If you’ve been injured on the job, you will quickly learn that filing a claim is a complex process. Workers’ compensation insurers are not on your side, and they will find ways to deny your claim or to keep it in limbo as long as possible. For example, one way they can deny a claim is by proving that the injured party wasn’t following safety regulations when the injury occurred, from not wearing protective gear to disregarding OSHA rules and policies. Here are a few other ways that workplace safety regulations can affect your personal injury claim.
Safety Regulations and Your Employer
Your employer is responsible for creating and enforcing the workplace safety regulations that keep employees protected from injury. These rules can be reasonably expected to provide protections, but they aren’t foolproof and injuries can still occur even if they are followed. There are certain lapses in training and regulatory oversight that can contribute to an on-the-job injury.
Your employer did not follow OSHA standards
An employer’s negligence in following OSHA standards will not affect your ability to file a workers’ compensation claim following an injury. Your employer will be facing fines and violations if an OSHA standard was not followed, and in some states this negligence may allow you to file an additional personal injury suit outside of your workers’ compensation claim.
You were not provided adequate training
Any time a new piece of equipment is introduced, a mandatory training session is required. This training session should be documented in your employee files. If you never received adequate training covering the use of a piece of equipment, your employer can be held liable for your injury.
You were not provided proper safety equipment
Safety equipment covers everything from work gloves to steel-toed work boots, safety goggles, and proper clothing. If you were not provided safety equipment and become injured, your employer will be held responsible for your injury. If, however, you were provided safety equipment but were not using it, your workers’ compensation claim can be denied.
Your employer didn’t follow simple safety standards
Employees expect safety measures to be enforced, whether it’s “wet floor signs” or safety treads on steps. If your injury is the result of the absence of reasonably expected safeguards, your employer can be held responsible for your injury. If the safeguards were in place but you neglected to use them properly, your claim may be denied.
Your employer has no annual safety training program in place
Safety regulations are only effective if employees know about them. Annual OSHA safety training sessions are required to make sure all employees are aware of the steps an employer has taken to maintain a safe work environment. These training sessions will be documented and placed in an employee’s file. If employees haven’t received safety training, the employer is violating OSHA standards.
Reasons Your Personal Injury Claim May be Denied
There are certain situations where a workman’s comp claim will be denied, including:
- Employees using bad judgment
- Employees not following safety regulations
- Employees not using protective gear
- Injuries cannot be proven to be work-related
- The deadline for filing the claim was missed
- The injury occurred during an unsanctioned activity
- Incomplete or inaccurate documentation
If your claim is initially denied, your attorney will ask for an appeal.
Injured on the Job?
There are a few steps you can take to make sure your injury claim is received and processed in a timely fashion. Failure to report a workplace injury within the acceptable time limit will result in an immediate denial of your claim. If you’re injured on the job, it’s important to gather and submit documentation as quickly as possible.
1. Medical attention
If you’re injured on the job, your first priority is to seek medical attention. This ensures that the full extent of your injuries is understood while also getting you on the road to recovery as soon as possible. Remember that you may not immediately feel the symptoms of an injury, such as when you are involved in a car accident. It’s important to seek a medical evaluation immediately following an incident so you have the required documentation.
Your employer or the workers’ compensation insurer may suggest a physician for an initial evaluation, but it’s important to remember that you have the right to choose your own physician for a second opinion.
2. Make the report
Your next step will be to file an incident report. It’s helpful to find witnesses, if possible, who can provide confirmation of the circumstances surrounding your injury. Photographs of the scene of the incident will be helpful as well. Avoid taking any blame in your own statement, such as “I knew the pavement was wet” or “I suspected the machine was having problems when I used it.” Stick to the facts: who, what, when, where, and why.
Keep your immediate supervisor apprised of any additional injuries resulting from the incident if they are uncovered after the initial report.
3. Get a copy of the incident report
Make sure to get a physical copy of the incident report filed by your supervisor. You will need this to present to your lawyers when filing your claim. Get copies of the supervisor’s observations and recommendations as well as your own written statement and those of any witnesses involved in the incident. These reports keep the details fresh in your mind as you move forward with your claim.
4. Hire an attorney
Even if your claim seems straightforward, remember that workers’ compensation is not on your side. An experienced personal injury attorney ensures that you are treated fairly and receive everything that you are entitled to following an injury.