Know your legal rights and responsibilities when injured on the job
Getting hurt on the job can be painful, upsetting, and even life-changing. If you get injured at work and don't think you can continue at your job, it's essential to know your rights. That's especially true if it's a job you don't want to lose, but your injury prevents you from fulfilling your duties. In this case, having someone in your corner who understands the law and your options can be immensely helpful in navigating this difficult situation.
When accidents happen, it's natural to wonder what happens next for you. Depending on your injuries and how you were hurt, you may be entitled to workers' compensation.
A workers' compensation claim can cover up to two-thirds of your wages as well as medical care. And if a severe injury occurred that impacts your ability to use your body, you may be entitled to additional compensation. In some cases, when another person, company, or entity causes your injury, you may be able to file a claim to determine whether they were negligent. If you intentionally inflicted the injury or broke the law, your claim may not be covered. Whatever the case, it's important to have legal representation to help you understand your rights and ensure you receive all the benefits you're entitled to.
But what happens if you're injured at work and too hurt to continue working? What if you want to keep your job?
In some cases, injured workers want to continue to work to minimize the risk of losing their job. Some workers will even delay reporting an injury — but that can lead to further complications, including worsening injury or illness and complicating any potential benefits for which you may be eligible.
Working with an injury is generally risky, but staying home to get well can create a financial burden. Workers often need to make a difficult choice of whether to pay their bills or take time to heal from their injury — and potentially lose their job altogether. Overall, continuing to work while injured probably isn't wise. In addition to potentially causing further injury, working while hurt can lead to mistakes on the job and can make it difficult to prove a workers' compensation claim. If you continue to work while injured and don't report the incident or injury, it can also become difficult to prove that the injury happened at work.
As workers' compensation attorneys in La Crosse and Holmen, Wisconsin, we generally advise clients to immediately follow the appropriate steps for filing a report about their work-related illness or injury. Here are the steps typically taken and the possible compensation or coverage for your work-related injury or illness.
1. Report your injury or illness to your boss or workplace immediately or as soon as possible. Filing an honest report of the situation lays the groundwork for your workers' compensation claim. This may include information about the medical treatment you have received, rehabilitation needed, and the medical provider's diagnosis of your illness or injury. Don’t do any physical activity outside of your doctor’s restrictions.
2. Your workplace may accept or deny your claim.
3. If your employer denies your claim, you may file a claim with the Department of Workforce Development’s Workers' Compensation Division, which may result in a hearing before a workers' compensation judge.
4. If you're disabled and unable to return to work, you may qualify for benefits for loss of wages. In some cases, workers may lose limbs or their ability to see or hear. In these cases and cases of permanent disfigurement, there may be additional compensation for your loss. Total disability benefits may apply depending on your percentage of total disability and if you really are unable to work at all for the rest of your life. In addition, an accident caused by a nonemployer's negligence may also make you eligible for damages to help cover medical costs and lost wages, along with pain and suffering. These cases can be complicated so be sure to consult with an attorney as soon as possible to investigate the liability issues.
Need a workers' compensation attorney in the Greater La Crosse area?
Having a trusted attorney who looks out for your rights is vital to ensuring your financial, emotional, and physical needs are met when you get injured on the job. Continuing to work while injured can compromise your ability to receive the compensation you deserve and lead to further injury. If you're looking for a workers' compensation attorney in La Crosse and surrounding areas, contact us. We can help you understand your rights and pursue a claim when you're hurt on the job.
Article by Joe Veenstra, Workers' Compensation Lawyer in La Crosse. For help with a workers' compensation claim, contact him at 608-784-5678.