Any job carries a risk of injury. Of course, some jobs are more dangerous than others. In the course of carrying out the duties of a job, employees are sometimes injured. No one plans to get hurt and until they are injured, not many employees give much thought to what happens if they do get hurt. Therefore, most employees have no idea what responsibilities they have when an on-the-job injury happens.
Duty To Report
First, almost all employers have a policy somewhere in their standard operating procedures that requires an employee to report an injury when it happens. Second, the law requires an injured employee to report the injury to the employer as well. In order to be protected by the law and claim the appropriate benefits, an injured worker must follow this law. It seems obvious that you need to report an injury when it happens but an unfortunately large number of cases involve delayed reporting or even a failure to report the injury to the employer. This can complicate or even jeopardize a potential claim. The best advice is to report any injury as soon as possible to your employer no matter how minor. Countless cases involve an injury that was originally thought to be minor which then turns out to be a serious injury. Employers sometimes discourage reporting minor injuries but a responsible employer knows that filing a report is required if the employee is, in fact, injured on the job.
As an injured worker, you are obligated to follow the doctor’s orders. It is always in your best interest to listen to your doctor. If you have injured your back and you are told to lift no more than 10 pounds then you should not lift more than 10 pounds. It is tempting to exceed limitations like this but limits are put in place by medical professionals for a reason. Further, if you are instructed to receive treatment such as physical therapy, you should attend as instructed.
Limited or Modified Duty
Often, to save money in a claim, an employer will ask an employee to come back to work under modified duty rules. For example, if you work as a welder and you are injured to the point where you can no longer perform your duties, your employer may offer a position to answer phones until you recover. In most cases, your employer is allowed to do this and you are required to accept the modified duty. This depends on the specific situation and there are certainly cases where modified duties are not appropriate.
There are times during the course of a workers’ compensation claim where hearings may be necessary in front of a judge. Unless otherwise advised by your attorney, you should always attend. You know the specifics of your case better than anyone and you have an obligation to yourself to make sure that your rights and responsibilities are explained to you in person.
Injuries at work can be a stressful experience. Many employers contest benefits at every step of the way. This is unfortunate but it is how the system works. You need to make sure that the system works for you. Dan Pruitt has been defending the rights of workers in Upstate South Carolina for over 20 years. If you have been injured on the job, call the office at (864) 232-4273 to schedule your free initial consultation. He has the experience to defend your rights and ensure that you get the benefits that you deserve.