No matter if you’re a new hire or an experienced employee, accidents happen. Some of which will lead to injury. In fact, it happens more often than you might think. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were 2.1 million non-fatal1 and 4,764 fatal workplace injuries2 in 2020.
Although an injury — no matter how severe and where it occurs — can be devastating, there is no need to despair. If you find yourself unfortunate enough to be injured at work, there are programs in place to provide the compensation that you need.
You are able to find comprehensive details on the entire process with a quick online search. If you need a place to start, here is everything you should know about your options as an injured worker in the U.S.
What Should You Do?
When you first started at your job, you were most likely briefed on the company’s procedure for workplace injuries. However, that information is easy to forget when you’re more concerned about self preservation.
While your company’s procedures may differ slightly, there are only a few things to remember in a general sense.
Report the Injury
The first step to take when you’re injured on the job is to report the injury to a supervisor. Depending on the state, notifying your supervisor of the injury may need to be done in writing.
From there, the supervisor can address what caused your injury. Doing so will help avoid anymore injuries or potential damage.3
Seek Medical Attention
After notifying your supervisor, make sure to seek immediate medical attention.
No matter the severity of the injury, do not try to take care of it yourself. Get a professional to look over the injury as their report will be crucial in how much compensation you receive.
File a Claim
Once you’ve done your due diligence, it is time to file your worker’s compensation claim. The filing process may include providing medical reports to support your claim and filling out any state-mandated paperwork.4
In order to get all the compensation you deserve, it is highly recommended that you seek out legal guidance from an attorney.5
If you’re injured on the job, the last thing you want to worry about is money. That’s why workers’ compensation, commonly shorten to “workers comp”, exists. This government-mandated program requires employers — except those in Texas — to have workers’ compensation insurance.
Through workers’ compensation insurance, employers provide monetary and health care benefits to employees that suffered job-related injuries and illnesses. In totality, they will cover:
- Medical expenses;
- Rehabilitation costs, and;
- A percentage — sometimes as high as two thirds — of the employee’s lost wages.
Applying for workers comp varies by state. However, most require employees to:
- Report the injury or illness to their employer, and;
- Write a detailed report on the injury, including photos and names of witnesses.
Be aware that by accepting workers comp, you waive the right to sue your employer for damages.6
In extreme cases, you may lose your job due to a workplace injury or illness. If that happens, you may be eligible for unemployment insurance.
Unemployment insurance provides temporary financial assistance to individuals that lost their job to no fault of their own on a weekly basis. How much an individual receives in benefits is based on a percentage of their earnings from the last 52 weeks of employment. Most states will provide unemployment insurance for a maximum of 26 weeks. However, that maximum may be extended in times of high unemployment.
Since unemployment insurance is provided by each state, the requirements needed for payment varies. In order to maintain eligibility, states will require that individuals do the following on a weekly or biweekly basis:
- File claims by mail or phone.
- Actively be looking for work.
- Report any earnings and job offers received.
- Report to the local claims office or American Job Center if requested.7