What Do I Do If I’ve Been Injured at Work?
If you are involved in an accident with injuries while at your workplace, you must follow several basic steps. First, if you are physically able, you should report the injuries or illness to your employer. Next, seek medical attention for your injuries. (If your injuries are severe, seek medical attention first, then report your injuries to your employer). Next, you will file a claim for Ohio Workers’ Compensation.
For each of these steps, you must make careful notes of everything you can remember about the accident, as well as saving all records of your medical treatments, medical expenses, and other expenses related to your workplace accident. Most workplaces have specific policies and procedures in place for reporting an accident that results in injury. OSHA also requires employers to keep a comprehensive record of injuries and illnesses as a means of helping employers identify potential hazards and prevent future injuries and illnesses.
If your company has an HR department, you should determine the policies and procedures for reporting a workplace accident. Your HR department could also ask you to complete forms or answer questions. It is crucial you provide the most accurate information possible when you describe how your workplace accident occurred. In some instances, your employer may recommend a specific doctor, although you are allowed to see any BWC certified medical provider. You do not have to be treated by the doctor your employer recommends.
After your initial visit to your doctor, you must seek ongoing care from a Bureau of Workers’ Compensation certified medical provider. While you can see the BWC-certified provider of your choice, he or she must have that certification. You must always follow any orders from your doctor, including showing up for all appointments and undergoing any recommended treatment. If you disagree with your BWC-certified provider as far as your treatment goes, you have the right to see a different provider.
What is the Process for Filing an Ohio Workers’ Compensation Claim?
You may wonder about the process used to file your Ohio workers’ compensation claim. The following steps are the usual order of events when you have been injured at work and need to file a workers’ compensation claim:
- Complete and submit the First Report of Injury, Occupational Disease or Death (a single page form with several pages of instructions). This form will require you to detail your accident and resulting injuries, as well as stating your medical diagnosis. You will need to obtain a signature from your health care provider for this form and information regarding your medical diagnosis, and the International Classification of Diseases coding number.
- You will submit a signed authorization form that allows the BWC or the self-insured employer to obtain and review your medical records related to the injury.
- You will sign an authorization to allow your BWC claims service specialist to obtain and review records about what your employer paid you over the past 52 weeks.
Do You Need a Workers’ Compensation Attorney Following Your Workplace Injury?
One of your first steps following a workplace accident should be to speak to an experienced Ohio workplace injury lawyer before filing your FROI and seeking benefits from workers’ compensation. Your attorney will review your FROI—as well as other claims package documents—ensuring they are filled out correctly and completely. Your attorney will also check the documents to ensure they reflect what the BWC generally expects to see in a workers’ compensation claim.
Your Ohio workers’ compensation attorney will thoroughly investigate your workplace accident to determine whether a third party can potentially be held liable for your accident. If so, you will file a third-party liability claim in addition to your workers’ compensation claim. Your attorney will help determine the amount of lost wages, as well as the extent of your injuries, and what it will take to get you back to the level of health you enjoyed before the accident.
What Should You Avoid During Your Workers’ Compensation Claim?
Since many people injured in the workplace are unfamiliar with the Ohio workers’ compensation system, it is easy to make mistakes—mistakes that can hurt the claim down the line. The most common mistakes made during the workers’ compensation process include the following:
- Failing to report your injury immediately. Under Ohio law, you have up to a year to file your claim for workers’ compensation benefit—or two years for an Occupational Disease claim. That being said, as time passes, it becomes more difficult to obtain workers’ compensation benefits, so the sooner you report a workplace injury to your manager or HR, the better. In many cases, workers who wait too long to report their injuries may face disbelief on the part of the employer and the BWC regarding how severe the injuries really are or whether they even received the injuries at work. Once you report the accident, your employer may ask you to complete an incident report or provide additional information regarding the accident. Even if your employer does not require this additional information, it is a good idea for you to write down every detail you can remember regarding your workplace accident and the aftermath.
- Failing to seek immediate medical care or failing to follow doctor’s orders. If you do not seek medical attention immediately, you may have difficulty convincing others that your injury is real. If you ignore your doctor’s recommendations, workers’ compensation may be reluctant to pay your claim.
- Speaking to a Third-party Administrator. It is essential to know that a Third-party Administrator has your employer’s interests in mind rather than your own. Most employers want to reduce financial responsibility whenever possible. A TPA representative may seem kind and friendly but be aware he or she will use anything you might inadvertently say against you to deny benefits.
- Signing documents without letting your attorney take a look at them. You should never, ever, sign your name to a document until your attorney has given you the go-ahead. Once you agree to something in writing, it will be virtually impossible to change the results, even if you did not fully understand what you were signing.
- Failing to hire an experienced Ohio workers’ compensation attorney. Many people injured at work may feel they don’t need a workers’ compensation attorney or cannot afford one. Having a knowledgeable attorney in your corner ensures you will receive maximum workers’ compensation benefits.
As soon as the BWC receives the First Report of Injury, they will begin gathering information and investigating your claim. A decision will be made regarding whether your claim is allowed or denied within 28 days. You have the right to appeal that decision. If your employer is self-insured, they will make the initial decision on the allowance of the claim. If they deny the claim or any compensation or medical benefits you have the right to a hearing before the Industrial Commission of Ohio.
The Importance of Having a Schaffer & Associates Workers’ Compensation Attorney
If you have been injured at work, an attorney from Schaffer & Associates can help! We can walk you through the process, answering any questions you may have, and ensuring you receive the maximum level of workers’ compensation benefits. At Schaffer & Associates, we genuinely care about your recovery and want to make the system work for you. Our attorneys have more than 50 years of combined experience and will use that experience on your behalf. We fully understand what you are going through regarding your recovery from a serious work injury and will help you through this difficult time. Contact Schaffer & Associates today for a comprehensive review of your Ohio workers’ compensation claim.