Workers' comp law is much more complicated than people think, as a workers compensation attorney would certainly tell you. It is not uncommon to misunderstand or minsconstrue how the workers' compensation laws work. Here are some misconceptions about what this law says, what the law really says and how the process works.
Workers' Compensation Is NOT for Random and/or Minor Injuries
Scraping your knee on a pallet, catching and tearing a hangnail on your work clothes and stubbing your toe as you trip forward do not count as valid workers' compensation claims. In fact, attempting to file a claim for these "injuries" can raise the costs of this type of insurance for your employer and everyone else that works for the company or business. This is due in part to the lengthy investigation process to determine if the claim is valid and if the "injury" impacts the employee's ability to work. Workers' compensation claims should only be filed for major injuries such as:
- Missing or injured limbs as a result of normal operation of machinery
- Loss of vision, smell, taste, hearing or sense of touch because of a work-related accident
- Disease or disorder that arises as a result of working with dangerous materials
Psychological and emotional damages may be part of your workers' compensation claim, but only if it can be proved with medical records.
You Can Seek out Medical Attention Right Away
In fact, you should seek out medical attention right away. The law says that you need medical documentation to back your claim for workers' compensation benefits. Delaying or abstaining from seeking medical attention makes your claim look false, which could deny your benefits. If you have a really good reason for not going to a doctor or emergency room right away, you will need to provide proof of that reason in the event that you involve a workers' compensation attorney.
Claims Must Be Filed and OSHA May Investigate
OSHA, the organization that creates and enforces safety regulations in various industries, will undoubtedly receive copies of the injury claims and possibly investigate, especially if there are numerous claims in a short time. If you think your employer is not filing injury claims in order to avoid an investigation, you CAN go over your employer's head to file a report with OSHA directly. (Your employer cannot retaliate against you, and has to comply with the investigation. You are protected when there is enough evidence to support that people are getting hurt and your company is not stopping it or preventing it from happening.) A workers' compensation lawyer can help you file the report.