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What to Do When You Are Injured at Work

After you have been injured at work, you may feel worried or uncertain about next steps. Your employment is your livelihood. It is important to seek the right advice and know when to ask for help any time an injury prevents you from earning your usual income — or worse, puts your health and wellness in jeopardy.

You are entitled to receive Workers’ Compensation benefits if you are injured at work, no matter how the injury happened and regardless of fault. This includes construction site accidents, exposure to harmful materials, falls, negligent coworkers, and several other types of workplace injuries. Below is a brief outline of steps to take after an injury at work.

Know Your Rights Before an Injury Occurs

The best way to be prepared for an injury is to know your rights within your place of employment. During onboarding or new hire orientation, you should be provided with some type of employee handbook. Read your handbook and ask your supervisor or union leader if you have any questions or concerns.

Make sure you have a clear understanding of your employer’s process for reporting injuries. This is especially important if your occupation involves working on different job sites and/or involves manual labor. However, a workplace injury can happen to any employee in any industry.

Knowing your rights and responsibilities as an employee can help guide your decisions and reduce feelings of panic or uncertainty when an injury occurs.

5 Steps to Take after a Workplace Injury:

1. Report an injury immediately.

If you are hurt at work, you should report your injury to your employer immediately and in writing. In order to be eligible to receive Workers’ Compensation benefits, you must report an injury within 30 days in the state of Missouri, or 45 days in the state of Illinois.

  • Note: Report your injury as soon as possible, no matter how minor the incident may seem. An injury can cause a sharp or fleeting sensation of pain and it is easy to write this off as “no big deal.” However, this pain could worsen over time or contribute to a future, more serious injury.

Keep a copy of the completed injury report for your records, along with a record of the date the form was completed. If the form is hand delivered, record the date and time of delivery along with the full name and title of the person your notice was delivered to.

To verify your injury was reported by your employer, call the Missouri Division of Workers’ Compensation at 1 (800) 775-2667 or the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission at 1 (866) 352-3033.

2. Get medical care.

Seek emergency medical care for an illness or injury requiring immediate attention. Otherwise, the employer and/or insurer is required to provide medical treatment, which includes their ability to choose the healthcare provider.

In the state of Missouri, you have the right to pursue medical care from the physician of your choice at your own expense. Your employer may authorize you to see your own doctor — but you should always check with the employer and/or their insurance company regarding any medical treatment you pursue beforehand.

3. Keep track of important documentation.

Find a safe place to store all documentation regarding your work injury, such as:

  • Medical bills or paperwork
  • Emails or written messages exchanged with your employer
  • Photographs of the injury
  • Paycheck stubs for 13 weeks prior to the injury

4. Write a basic logbook or journal.

It can be helpful to maintain a written record of any interactions with your employer and their health insurance company regarding your work injury. Include the date and time of your conversations, the name and title of person you spoke with, the length of the conversation, and a brief summary of what was said.

It can also be helpful to include a log of interactions with the employer-provided physician. Read these tips to advocate for yourself as a medical patient.

5. Speak with an attorney.

If your employer denies coverage or provides insufficient medical care for your work injury, you may decide to proceed with filing a Workers’ Compensation claim. An attorney can help you submit this claim with the appropriate information.

An attorney who specializes in Workman’s Comp can:

  • Help injured workers navigate interviews with insurers and/or auditors;
  • Provide assistance with filing a Workers’ Compensation claim;
  • Recover fair compensation and long-term benefits for injuries; and,
  • Investigate the possibility of pursuing a separate lawsuit, for injuries involving third party negligence, exposure to a hazardous material and/or a mechanical defect.

In the state of Missouri, a Workers’ Compensation claim needs to be filed within two years from the date of injury, and in the state of Illinois, within three years from the date of injury.

Hiring a Workers’ Compensation Attorney

The law office of Padberg, Corrigan & Appelbaum in St. Louis has decades of experience advocating for employees who have suffered from a workplace injury. Our firm has represented clients in Missouri and Illinois who were treated unfairly by their employer after reporting an injury, and clients who were receiving insufficient medical treatment. Workers’ Compensation benefits can be complex, and our attorneys are always available to help.

Our firm recently won a case wherein a sheet metal worker had severe arthritis in the base of his thumb joints. His employer fought providing treatment, saying it wasn’t related. We took the employer to hearing and the judge ordered the employer to provide treatment, which included surgery to both hands. Read more about our practice in Workers’ Compensation cases.

Were you injured at work? Contact the legal office of Padberg, Corrigan & Appelbaum to schedule a free, confidential consultation to discuss your concerns. Submit a contact form online, or call (314) 621-2900.