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4 things you should know about workers' compensation claims

Suffering an injury or illness at work may create a ripple effect through your life. Depending on the severity of the incident, you may find yourself out of work for a lengthy time or unable to perform the same type of job.

Workers' compensation may seem like a daunting process, especially if you have never gone through it. Take a look at these four things you should know about the claims process to help things go smoother.

1. Report your injury in a timely manner

Perhaps the injury happens quickly and you seek medical treatment immediately. Or maybe you discover during a visit to the doctor that you have a repetitive injury caused by your work duties. Either way, you must report your injury to your employer as soon as feasible.

It is also important to seek treatment as soon as possible after an accident or if you experience pain after hours or on the weekend. Both of these are important to filing a claim for workers' compensation. Failing to report the accident or waiting to get treatment can cause your benefits to be denied or delayed.

2. Injured workers are entitled to medical care and income replacement

All medical care related to a work injury should be covered by your employer's workers' compensation insurance. You should not have to be any doctor bills yourself, or pay for therapy or medication. You are also entitled to wage benefits if your work injury forces you to miss work for 7 days or more.

Insurance companies sometimes miscalculate wage benefits or refuse to pay for specific medical treatments. A good lawyer can intervene to assert your rights or appeal a denial.

3. You can't sue your employer or co-workers

Workers' compensation covers you even if your own clumsiness or negligence contributed to your workplace injury. The flip side of these "no-fault" benefits is that you cannot sue your employer, supervisor or co-worker even if their actions directly caused your injury. But you can bring a lawsuit against a third party who is not in your chain of employment, such as subcontractor or property owner, if they caused or contributed to your work injury.

4. Common work-related injuries

Some industries have a higher rate of work injury simply because of the nature of the job and the working conditions. Various positions in the construction and medical fields are two of the top injury-related professions. Common injuries in these occupations include:

  • Fall injuries -- slip-and-falls or falls from ladders and roofs
  • Crush injuries -- toppled materials or caught in machinery
  • Head injuries -- falling objects from above or striking hard surfaces
  • Back strains and sprains -- lifting, bending or pulling

Knowing that you do not have to navigate the waters of the workers' compensation system alone may help alleviate stress. Find an attorney who can answer your questions and advocate for you.

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