Whenever a worker is injured on the job, consulting an injury lawyer is a good idea. However, keep in mind that there are several things that a person can do that can seriously damage their workers’ compensation case before the attorney even has a chance to offer his advice. An employee has to understand that although the employer has a responsibility to keep the work environment safe, so does the employee. In addition, there are several things an employee can do to cause the claim to be questioned.
Health and Safety at Work Act
Not only does each of the 50 states have their own workers’ compensation laws, but also the Health and Safety at Work Act has ensured that all employees will be offered a minimum amount of protection. This protection includes some level of tax-free wage compensation and coverage of medical bills. While employers are charged with taking reasonable precautions to ensure the safety of their employees, keep in mind that employees have a responsibility to take precautions as well.
Workplace Safety Plan
When an employer implements a workplace safety plan he or she has the responsibility of avoiding all known risks and of enforcing compliance with the plan. This includes a variety of safety issues such as proper training and wearing the proper clothing. The first thing an injury lawyer is going to ask is if you were compliant at the time of the injury. Failure to follow guidelines may significantly influence the outcome of your case.
Working under the Influence
An injury lawyer will also have a harder time fighting for you if alcohol or drugs were involved at the time of the accident. The reality is that alcohol and drugs impair the ability to think and react in a reasonable manner. That makes it extremely tough to make a case that the employer failed to exercise reasonable precautions. In addition, keep in mind that the odds are high that you will be tested when medical assistance is sought.
Timely Reporting of the Injury
One of the biggest mistakes to avoid is not reporting the injury in a timely manner. First, there are generally statues of limitations for reporting. Also, remember; if you go home, an injury lawyer may have a difficult time proving that the injury occurred at work. Getting eyewitness reports is easier if the incident is reported immediately. Finally, keep in mind that going to the doctor does not constitute reporting the incident. The accident must be reported to the employer so that the proper forms can be filled out. The bottom-line is that if you are injured at work, then you need to let somebody know right then.
Getting and Taking Medical Advice
Finally, medical treatment can either significantly help or hurt a workers’ compensation case. Make sure to be completely honest with the doctor. Accurately describe the symptoms and do not leave out any pre-existing conditions. If these are discovered by the insurance company at a later date, it becomes very difficult for an injury lawyer to defend the case. Furthermore, it is also a good idea to follow through with any prescribed treatments or else the validity of the injury will be questioned.
Safety in the workplace is ultimately everyone’s responsibility. However, there are times when an employee must file a workers’ compensation claim. Just keep in mind that there are several mistakes that can severely damage the case. These include not exercising reasonable precautions, working under the influence, not reporting in a timely manner, and not being honest with medical personnel and following through on treatment. Any of these can severely limit an injury lawyer’s ability to defend the case.