No one ever plans on getting hurt. When we do get hurt, most of us hope that it will be something minor that just gets better on its own.
Unfortunately, sometimes injuries that seem minor end up causing major problems if not treated properly. Because of that, you need to handle a workers compensation injury the right way from the very beginning.
Here are four important things you should do if you are injured at work:
Report the Work Injury to your Employer
Reporting an injury is a requirement of receiving workers compensation benefits. I have spoken with many people through the years who have not reported their injuries to their employers.
These people have good reasons they have given me for not reporting their injuries. Some of them did not report an injury because they did not think it would be a serious injury. They thought they would just get better quickly.
Other people did not report an injury because they had concerns that their employer would get upset with them. They thought they might lose their job or be treated differently if their employer knew they got hurt.
Both of these reasons make good sense. But, Georgia workers compensation laws require you to notify your employer of your injury in order to be covered by workers compensation.
If you don’t give your employer notice of your injury soon enough, you may be barred from receiving workers compensation benefits. So, be sure to let your employer know about your injury as soon as possible.
Get Seen by a Doctor
One of the benefits of notifying your employer of your injury is that it will allow you to see a workers compensation doctor. When you are injured at work, your employer has a duty to provide you with medical treatment. Even if your injury is minor, it is better to be safe and get it checked out by a doctor.
I cannot count the number of times that I what someone thought would be a minor injury turn into something much more serious. Sometimes, what you think may just be a pulled muscle may be a more serious injury like a torn ligament. It is important to get evaluated by a medical professional as soon as possible so you have the best recovery possible.
Get a Copy of the Workers Compensation Doctor List
Georgia’s workers compensation laws give you some choice in the doctor who will treat your work injury. Usually, your employer will have a “posted panel of physicians“.
This is a list with at least six doctors on it. This list determines what doctors you can choose to treat your injury.
Also, if your employer does not have a proper doctor list, you will have greater choice in what doctor treats your injury. You may even be able to choose any doctor you want. It is very important that you get a copy of this list so that you can know your rights about medical treatment.
Follow your Doctor’s Orders
The doctor that treats your injury should give you some important advice about at least two things:
- Medical treatment
- Returning to work
It is important to get the medical treatment the doctor recommends. Often, people have trouble getting the medical treatment they need because their employer or the workers compensation insurance company do not approve the treatment recommended by the doctor.
Unfortunately, delay and denial of medical treatment is a big problem in Georgia’s workers compensation system. Do no be surprised if you need an attorney to fight to get your medical treatment approved.
Your doctor should also tell you whether you should go back to work or stay out of work for some time. When the doctor does say that you can go back to work, they will often give you some work restrictions.
One of the main reasons the doctor gives you work restrictions is so that you do not get reinjured. Be sure to follow the doctor’s instructions. If you go back to work on light duty, be sure to stay within the restrictions the doctor assigns you.