In many industries, employers brush off injuries as just part of the job. Some workers, particularly those in the construction industry or warehousing, develop a habit of ignoring minor injuries so that they can move on with the day and take care of their job-related tasks without having to worry about filling out an injury report.
We hear stories about workplaces where workers use duct tape, paper towels, or even caulk to handle minor cuts and lacerations since pulling out a first aid kit on the job may result in the need to fill out workplace injury forms.
However, being tough does not mean working through injuries that require medical treatment. In many cases, ignoring injuries may mean that they grow more severe over time, which can result in more serious problems for the injured party. Being tough does not mean skipping workers’ comp. Using workers’ comp benefits can help improve overall outcomes for many injured workers.
Workers’ Comp Provides Time to Recover
In the case of many injuries, time off to recover can make a huge difference in the overall recovery process. Repetitive stress injuries, for example, may need time off to resolve—and a change in the worker’s approaches to certain types of work or certain work responsibilities when they come back. Other injuries may require the worker to spend time recovering rather than jumping straight back into work requirements.
Many workers in very physical jobs, including construction, warehouse work, or outdoor professions, will find that their daily job duties place them in potentially dangerous positions where they may have an increased risk of further injury. An additional injury on top of the ones already suffered can increase recovery time and decrease outcomes, leading to more serious issues for many patients.
Even working in a retail job, where workers have to spend most of the day on their feet, can cause some injuries to worsen, creating significant pain for the injured party and slowing the recovery process.
Workers’ comp gives many people the time they need to recover. Workers’ comp will generally provide around 2/3 of the injured worker’s salary during the recovery process. As a result, victims injured in the workplace can relax and focus on their recovery rather than rushing back to work too fast, which could result in further injury.
Workers’ Comp Coverage Helps Diagnose Injuries
Many people avoid going to the doctor because of the high cost of medical care. For many patients, that may mean ignoring even serious injuries to avoid the costs associated with them. They may choose to “tough it out” instead of going to the doctor, even though a visit to a medical care provider can make it much easier to determine the full extent of those injuries and get treatment.
On the other hand, workers’ comp will cover the cost of that critical diagnostic process.
Know What Injuries You Have
In some cases, you may think that you have sustained only minor injuries, only to discover later that you may have suffered more severe injuries than you initially thought. For example, you may discover that you suffered a broken bone when you initially thought you had suffered only a sprain or strain, or you might uncover serious internal bleeding rather than just extensive bruising.
Knowing what injuries you have can make it much easier to guide your future decisions. When you know what injuries you suffered at work, you can get the treatment you need and avoid activities that may worsen those injuries. Workers’ comp will generally cover the full cost of diagnosis associated with your injuries.
Understand Your Next Steps
When you suffer serious injuries in a workplace accident, having a diagnosis can make it much easier to lay out your next steps. For example, if you sustained severe injuries that will require a long recovery, you might need to have that information upfront, so you can use it to guide your decisions about getting back to work or what activities you may need to avoid while recovering.
A doctor can provide critical information about the medication you need, the treatments you will require, and how to best handle the recovery process.
Get the Medical Treatment You Need
Workers’ comp coverage makes it much easier for people injured in the workplace to get the medical treatment they need for those injuries. Workers’ comp generally covers the cost of medical treatment directly.
You will not have to worry about affording medical care for injuries you sustained at work. While you may have to have those treatments approved by your workers’ compensation insurance provider before you go through those treatments, often, you will find it much easier and more practical to pursue that treatment through workers’ comp than on your own.
Avoid Unnecessary Treatment Delays
With workers’ comp, you can avoid treatment delays that may occur because you cannot afford treatment. While care providers may provide emergency medical care for your injuries, you may have a long wait to get treatment if you cannot afford those procedures. On the other hand, workers’ comp will pay for those treatments for you, which may make them more affordable.
Make a Full Recovery
Thanks to workers’ comp, you do not have to worry about what your regular insurance will or will not cover, including, for example, a set number of physical therapy sessions you can get before your coverage runs out or specific types of durable medical equipment. While workers’ comp may have a specific procedure you must follow to get approval for some types of treatments, you will generally find that workers’ comp will approve doctor-recommended treatments and procedures.
Since you can get the treatment you need paid for through workers’ comp, you often have much better odds of making a full recovery from your injuries.
What Happens if You Tough It out After a Workplace Injury?
Following a workplace injury, some people will try to “tough it out” instead of going through workers’ comp and getting the treatment they deserve. They might not want to have to mess with paperwork, or they might not want to admit that they got hurt at work. Many people fear that a workplace injury, even one not caused by their negligence, could interfere with their future employment opportunities.
Toughing it out after a workplace injury and ignoring requirements to report the accident and file with workers’ comp as needed, however, can have potentially devastating consequences:
- You may worsen your injuries. By choosing to forego medical treatment, you may, in many cases, inadvertently worsen your injuries. Many types of injuries may start mild but grow more serious if you do not pursue the treatment you need. Suppose, for example, that you suffer a strain or sprain while working. If you rest the injured limb and receive proper treatment, you will generally return to normal within a few days or weeks. On the other hand, if you do not get the needed treatment for those injuries, you may find that those injuries get worse. You may have a much longer road to recovery ahead of you. Sometimes, it may even mean that you have permanent limitations related to those injuries.
- You may struggle to get workers’ comp assistance. When you report an accident as soon as it happens, your employer can see that the accident occurred at work. You can easily show where the accident took place and any evidence related to it. In some cases, internal video footage of your workplace may also show the accident. On the other hand, if you do not report the accident when it occurs, it can prove much more difficult to establish that it occurred at work. Your employer may claim that you sustained those injuries at another place or time, meaning that workers’ comp would not bear liability for the incident, and you could not pursue compensation through your insurance provider.
- You may have to pay for your own medical care. Eventually, you may have to pursue medical care for worsening injuries related to your accident. That medical care will often prove highly expensive. Unfortunately, if you do not establish that your injuries occurred at work, you may have to pay those medical bills on your own without having workers’ comp insurance to fall back on. While your medical insurance will cover some of the cost of treatment, co-pays, and deductibles can quickly grow more expensive than anticipated.
- You may lose your job. In some cases, employers will fire employees who do not follow proper safety procedures, including reporting accidents to the employer and going through workers’ comp when needed. While your employer cannot fire you for a workplace injury, you can lose your job for failure to follow safety protocols.
- You may have to go back to work sooner. When you have workers’ comp protections after an accident, you can usually stay out of work until you can fully recover from your injuries. On the other hand, when you have to spend a long time out of work due to an accident that workers’ comp does not cover, you may find your employer putting a lot of pressure on you to get back to work as soon as possible. Worse, income challenges can make it even more necessary for you to get back on the job as soon as possible. The longer you spend out of work, the more it can interfere with your financial stability. Many people push themselves to get back to work sooner than they should after an accident.
Protecting Yourself After a Workplace Accident
Being “tough” does not necessarily have to mean skipping workers’ comp. To protect yourself, using workers’ comp offers the best option, both when it comes to keeping your body strong and when it comes to ensuring that you have all the protections you need after an accident. Your employer may have internal policies and procedures for reporting a workplace accident, including the paperwork you may have to fill out. If you suffered a devastating accident that took you out of the workplace before you could fill out that paperwork, you might have to file an accident report and answer questions later.
Always Get Medical Care
Your toughness has nothing to do with whether you seek medical care after a workplace accident. A medical care provider can ensure you receive the proper attention for your injuries. Do not ignore worrisome symptoms, including symptoms that may crop up at the end of the workday. If you have an accident at work and do not think you suffered an injury, but discover later that you may have injured yourself more than you thought, seek medical attention as soon as you note your symptoms.
Follow Your Care Providers’ Recommendations
Your doctor may have specific recommendations regarding your recovery. Follow those instructions carefully to maximize your recovery and increase the odds that you will get the compensation you deserve.
Know Your Rights
Look at what workers’ comp covers and what you should expect after your workplace accident. If you have any questions about your rights, get in touch with a lawyer to discuss what coverage you should have under workers’ comp law and how you can ensure you get that vital assistance.
Contact an Attorney
If you do not receive the support you need through workers’ comp, an attorney can help. An attorney can help establish that your accident occurred at work, what help you deserve for your injuries and other key facts about your claim.
If you have questions, do not wait. Get in touch with a workers’ comp attorney as soon after your accident as possible.