What Should I do If I am Injured at Work?
Following a workplace accident, you need to act quickly to preserve your right to benefits.
Almost every employer in Kansas is required to possess workers compensation insurance. Even some employers who are not required to carry workers compensation insurance will buy it anyway. For most people, workplace injuries happen suddenly and unexpectedly, and can leave the injured worker hurt, shocked, and unsure of what to do. Some workers may become injured as a result of repetitious overuse. All injuries caused while on-the-clock and while doing something you are supposed to be doing (even in some occasions while using the bathroom or on break time), should be assumed to be covered, regardless what an insurance adjuster or Human Resources staff might tell you. Following the steps listed below after being hurt at work can help to ensure that you receive compensation for your injuries. If you have more questions, call our Salina workers’ compensation attorneys directly.
Get Medical Care
One of the very first things that you should do if injured at work is to get prompt medical care. If you need emergency medical care, you can seek it at any emergency room. If the care is non-emergency, make sure you see a doctor to whom you are directed by a manager or supervisor or Human Resources staff, or the health care provider who is approved by the workers’ compensation insurer. Otherwise, you may have to pay for the care out of pocket. Still, the Workers Compensation Act requires the insurance company to pay up to $500 in medical care bills which were not approved by the employer or insurance carrier. But do not agree to allow the insurance adjuster to characterize true emergency medical care to be classified as unauthorized. The law understands that true medical emergencies do not allow time to be taken to obtain advance approval from the insurance company. The law will retroactively determine medical bills resulting from true medical emergencies to be authorized.
You are also entitled to be paid mileage for any trip the purpose of which is receiving medical care for your injuries (the current rate of reimbursement is .545 cents/mile). The only requirements are that the roundtrip distance must be at least 5.01 miles, and that you submit an itemized list of your trips and distances to the insurance company. Always keep a copy of the itemization for your records, along a note of the date it was submitted. No insurance adjuster should take longer than 30 days to issue a reimbursement check to you.
Report the Injury to Your Employer
Another thing you must do as soon as possible is to report the accident and injury to your employer. In some cases, the law only allows you 10 days within which to report the time, place and type of injury to the person designated by your employer to receive notices of work-related injuries. This is the shortest statute of limitations in Kansas law. If you do not report the injury within a certain amount of time, you will be barred from recovery. Because this is such an important rule to follow, we strongly suggest that you report your accidental injury in writing, and that you keep a copy of the written notice you submit. A written notice is always easier to prove in court if the employer decides to dispute the accident. It is also helpful to follow-up in 24 hours the delivery of your written notice by sending an email to the same person, which email (or a certified mail letter) repeats again the date, time, place and circumstances of your accidental injury, and the part of the body injured. Always send a copy of the email to yourself (so you can make a copy) and copy another foreman, supervisor or security officer.
Please also be aware of rules your employer has about reporting work-related accidents. Some employers demand notice of accident the same day. Some employers will fire you if you do not follow this rule. So even if you submit notice of accident within 10 days, you could still become unemployed, and being fired can make it much more difficult to collect weekly disability benefits. In some kinds of cases, the law may allow you more than 10 days to report your accident, such as with repetitious overuse injuries where the “date of accident” is not easy to identify. Never assume your claim is out of time, if you are beyond 10 days, as there are other ways to try to prove timely notice of accident, and our experienced workers compensation attorneys can help you try to find a way to keep your claim alive.
Follow Up on Your Workers’ Compensation Claim
Once you report your injury to your employer, and have begun receiving authorized medical care, it is very important to deliver in-person a copy of your Doctor’s work restrictions (or the Doctor’s statement that you are unable to work) to the person who is designated by your employer to receive medical information about your ability to work. Do this every time you see the authorized physician. Always keep a copy of what you are delivering to your employer (sometimes these documents disappear), and always deliver this paperwork to your employer on the same day as you see the Doctor, if possible. If you fail to do so, your employer might claim that you were a “No Call, No Show” and might tell the Judge that “We could have given him light duty work, if he had bothered to show up.” Don’t give the employer this chance to fire you and also to avoid paying weekly disability benefits. In addition, be careful about dealing with insurance company nurses who show up at your medical appointments, or who call you after these appointments. These nurses may ask about your family, may pretend to care about you, and behave like they are on your side. They aren’t your friend. Do not tell them what kinds of off-the-job activities you like to engage in. Don’t tell them about the big catfish you just caught, the harvest from your garden, and don’t tell them about your vacation. They work for the insurance company, and anything and everything you tell them will end up in the ear of the adjuster. If you don’t want to have to deal with these people, talk first to one of our attorneys to learn about your rights when dealing with case managers.
If a company-authorized physician has taken you off work, or if the same physician has given you temporary work restrictions which your employer cannot accommodate, then you are entitled to disability benefits. The first check is due on the 15th day of continuous disability (the first week off is a waiting period), and those checks are due to be paid with the same regularity as payroll (every week, every two-weeks, twice a month – whatever is the practice of your employer). If you are off work for 21 days in a row, then that waiting period has to be paid by the 22nd day of continuous disability. Your checks are supposed to equal 2/3rds of your average gross weekly wage, averaged over the 26 weeks before the date of accident. Any taxable earnings should be included in this calculation, such as bonuses, overtime, shift differential, vacation pay or sick leave. If you keep copies of your paychecks, then you can use those to doublecheck the accuracy of the calculation by the insurance adjuster. Or our workers compensation attorneys can help you doublecheck.
Hire an Experienced Salina Workers’ Compensation Attorney
Workers’ compensation claims can be complicated, and many workers are unsure of what they are entitled to, how to get their benefits, and what their rights are. If your claim is taking a long time to process, you have been denied workers’ compensation benefits, you have been offered less than you think you deserve, or your medical bills are being disputed, you need a workers’ compensation attorney.
At the law offices of Neustrom & Associates, our workers’ compensation attorneys have more than 80 years of combined legal experience serving clients like you in Kansas. If you are in a workplace accident, we know how to maximize your benefit amount and provide you with the representation you deserve. For a free consultation with our injury lawyers, please call us directly or send us a message – we work on a contingency fee basis, which means that you do not need to pay us a retainer fee in order to bring us to your side in this kind of litigation.