When an accident at work is serious enough to require medical attention and time home to recuperate, it’s comforting to know that you can obtain the medical care that you need and be reimbursed for lost wages through workers’ compensation. But it was not always like that.
Before workers’ compensation laws were passed in states throughout the country, a worker who was injured or suffered an illness because of accidents or conditions on the job had to rely on the generosity of their employer. When an employer refused to cover an injured worker’s medical bills and lost wages, the only option available for the worker was to file a lawsuit. But lawsuits took time, and there was no assurance of a favorable outcome for the injured worker.
Workers’ compensation laws in Oregon and other states now provide a way to protect workers and employers from the cost of lawsuits. That said, there are a few specific steps that you must take when you are injured at work to avoid jeopardizing your right to benefits. You also may have rights outside of the workers’ compensation system to recover damages from other parties when their negligence causes or contributes to a job-related injury.
Steps to take when injured at work
Employers with as few as one employee must provide workers’ compensation benefits by purchasing a workers’ comp insurance policy or being self-insured. You are entitled to workers’ compensation benefits for a work-related illness or injury whether you work full time or part time.
If you get hurt at work, you must do the following to start the claim process:
- Immediately notify your employer of the accident and the fact that you are injured. Get form 801 — which is the Report of Job Injury or Illness form — from your employer, fill it out, and give it to your employer or to the workers’ compensation insurance carrier.
- If you have serious injuries requiring immediate medical attention, get the medical care that you need, and provide your doctor with the name and contact information for your employer. Your doctor can take care of the notification requirement by completing a Worker’s and Physician’s Report for Workers’ Compensation, which is form 827.
- Go through the formal notification process, even if your employer immediately pays for your medical care and reimburses you for time lost from work. Failure to do so could jeopardize your right to future benefits should you continue having medical issues related to the injuries.
The law in Oregon is clear about prohibiting an employer from refusing to allow you to file a claim for workers’ compensation benefits or taking punitive action against you for filing one. If you have any questions about the claim process or need help with a claim, arrange for a consultation with a Bend workers’ compensation attorney.
Work-related accidents caused by third parties
Workers’ compensation laws protect employers from personal injury lawsuits by making a claim for compensation benefits a worker’s primary source for getting medical bills paid and recovering wages lost from being out of work while healing. Sometimes, however, an injury results from an accident caused by someone other than your employer or one of your co-workers.
For example, if you are hit by a delivery truck dropping supplies or materials at your workplace, you may have a claim against the driver and owner of the delivery truck. Another example of a third-party claim may occur when you are injured at work by defective machinery or equipment. The manufacturer and supplier of the equipment that caused you to be injured could be held responsible in a third-party claim.
In both examples, you would have a workers’ compensation claim for being injured at work and a claim against the third party whose negligent conduct caused the accident. You cannot “double dip” by collecting workers’ compensation benefits and recovering damages for your injuries through a third-party lawsuit, but there is a way to pursue a personal injury claim with the permission of the workers’ compensation insurer.
A Bend personal injury attorney can review your third-party claim to determine whether the damages awarded to you will be enough to reimburse the compensation carrier for the benefits that it paid to you with enough left over to make pursuing the claim worthwhile for you. If you pursue the negligence claim, your attorney will obtain approval from your workers’ comp carrier to settle the case and reach an agreement for the amount to be paid to the insurance company.
Get help from a Bend workers’ comp attorney
If you suffer an injury at work, get advice and representation from a Bend workers’ compensation and personal injury. A consultation and case review can determine whether you have rights against third parties in addition to a claim for workers’ compensation benefits.