If you have been hurt on the job, it’s important that you understand your rights, as well as those of your employer. Many people don’t fully understand how the law works with regard to on-the-job injuries or workers’ compensation, and this can hurt them in the long run. Here are some of the more common misconceptions people have about getting hurt at work.
MY EMPLOYER IS LOOKING OUT FOR MY BEST INTERESTS
Don’t make this assumption. When an injury occurs, most employers ultimately are looking out for their own interests, not yours. It’s unfortunate, but it’s true. Many employers will do the right thing by their workers without being forced, but the number one concern of businesses in general is to look out for their own bottom line. Assume that it’s your job to look out for your own best interests—not your employer’s. This is why you should consult an attorney for your own protection, to make sure the employer abides by the law.
WORKERS’ COMPENSATION ALLOWS ME TO BE SEEN BY MY OWN DOCTOR
Wrong. When you are hurt on the job, you are the employer’s legal responsibility; therefore, the employer chooses the physician and facility for treatment. If the employer permits you to see your own doctor, that’s fine, but if your employer has a protocol for treatment of work-related injuries and you go to your own doctor instead, don’t assume you will be covered. It might not be what you’d prefer, but you could be forfeiting your right to compensation.
WORKERS’ COMPENSATION DOES NOT APPLY IF I AM NOT AT THE WORKPLACE WHEN I GET HURT
This is an understandable misconception, but it is not necessarily true. Workers’ compensation applies if you are on the job, whether or not you happen to be at the workplace. It may be more difficult to prove if contested (another reason you should have an attorney), but even if you are working in your own home, if you are on company time when you get hurt, you are the company’s responsibility, and workers’ comp may apply based on the situation.
I DO NOT NEED AN ATTORNEY WHEN DEALING WITH WORK-RELATED INSURANCE
Many employees make the tragic assumption that workers’ comp automatically protects them, or that the employer’s insurance company won’t try to find a way around it. Do not make this mistake. Insurers make a practice of paying as little as they can, and they are not above using tricky techniques to get around the complexities of workers’ compensation law. When you get hurt at work, at some point an adjuster from the employer’s insurance company is going to want to get a recorded statement from you. You need to consult an attorney before having this conversation. Saying the wrong thing to the adjuster could be used to jeopardize your benefits; your attorney will know how to help you navigate this interview so that does not happen.The laws are there to protect employees who get hurt at work, but that does not automatically mean the employer will do the right thing. Being properly informed will help you navigate these potentially tricky waters and help you get the benefits you deserve.