How do I File a Claim for an Injury at Work?

K. Testa
K. Testa
Workers who receive work-related injuries must fill out a work injury claim form to receive reimbursement for lost wages.
Workers who receive work-related injuries must fill out a work injury claim form to receive reimbursement for lost wages.

Although often dependent on the location and the type of business, the process for filing a claim for an injury at work is usually the same in many areas. In all cases, it is usually best to fill out an accident report as soon as possible after the incident, in order to retain one’s legal right to workers’ compensation or other damages. You should also hold onto any documentation for your records, including all medical notes and bills. Many people see a physician after an injury to document problems, and some people include photos of visible injuries in their claims. Once they have gathered the relevant evidence, many people seek legal advice regarding their claim options. They often have various choices available to them, depending on the exact type of workplace injury.

Minor injuries are common in the workplace.
Minor injuries are common in the workplace.

Several types of actions can cause an injury at work. Your claim will probably fall into one of three categories: a workers’ compensation claim, a lawsuit against the employer when workers’ compensation is unavailable or does not apply, or a personal injury claim against a third party. Laws may vary by location and depend on the situation. Many people consult an accident attorney to help them decide which course of action would be most effective.

An attorney may be consulted to determine the best course of action for a claim.
An attorney may be consulted to determine the best course of action for a claim.

In most cases, an important component of a personal injury claim is the accident report. An official document describing the incident can assist the injured employee with filing a claim, and it is usually required in order to be awarded workers’ compensation. If an official accident report cannot be created right away, then the injured employee should at least record some notes about the incident, including the names of any witnesses, in case some details are forgotten later on.

An injured employee is not required to retain the services of a federal workers' compensation attorney in order to file a claim, but may do so if he or she chooses.
An injured employee is not required to retain the services of a federal workers' compensation attorney in order to file a claim, but may do so if he or she chooses.

The next step after an injury at work is usually to contact one’s direct supervisor or human resources department to determine eligibility for workers’ compensation. Most employers must carry workers’ compensation insurance to cover an employee who experiences an injury at work. Assuming that the injury resulted from actions directly related to job duties, the employee should receive some form of payment, along with instructions for returning to work safely, if at all.

In some cases, the injured employee is not eligible for workers’ compensation, yet a worker can sometimes sue his or her employer for liability. Examples include working with a defective product or the employer’s intentional conduct, both of which could lead directly to an injury at work. The employee may also be able to sue if the employer does not carry workers’ compensation insurance, or to sue for additional expenses or damages not covered by workers’ compensation. He or she might also file a claim for dangerous working conditions, with the appropriate health and safety agency.

Someone who suffers an injury at work might also be able to bring a lawsuit against a third party, instead of against the employer directly. A common example is when a supervisor or another employee physically injures an employee. Workers’ compensation does not typically cover this type of claim, and the injured party can often sue for damages. Given the complexities of experiencing an injury at work, a number of workers consult a personal injury attorney to determine their legal rights. A straightforward case usually does not require such effort, however, and many people can file claims with the appropriate authorities on their own behalf.

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    • Workers who receive work-related injuries must fill out a work injury claim form to receive reimbursement for lost wages.
      Workers who receive work-related injuries must fill out a work injury claim form to receive reimbursement for lost wages.
    • Minor injuries are common in the workplace.
      Minor injuries are common in the workplace.
    • An attorney may be consulted to determine the best course of action for a claim.
      An attorney may be consulted to determine the best course of action for a claim.
    • An injured employee is not required to retain the services of a federal workers' compensation attorney in order to file a claim, but may do so if he or she chooses.
      An injured employee is not required to retain the services of a federal workers' compensation attorney in order to file a claim, but may do so if he or she chooses.