First Steps After a North Carolina Workers' Compensation Injury
When a person is injured in an accident, whether work-related or otherwise, the last things they think about are claims, lawsuits, or receiving money. However, there are a few things an injured worker in North Carolina should do as soon as possible after an on-the-job injury. The failure to take these precautions could make it difficult for the employee to collect North Carolina workers’ compensation.
The most important thing to do after you’ve been injured is to seek proper medical care. See the discussion of this subject in our workers' compensation book, free for all North Carolina injured workers.
Seeing a doctor early is a precaution you should take in order to protect your health. An additional benefit of seeing the doctor early is that it will help to establish your NC workers’ compensation claim. If you wait several weeks after you’ve been injured to see a doctor, the delay raises questions about whether you were actually injured on-the-job. The insurance company will try to claim you were injured in some other activity outside of work.
When you first see the doctor or other health care professional, be sure to tell them you were injured while at work. Give them as many details as possible about how the accident happened, what the accident did to your body, what you experienced at the time of and immediately after the acciden,t and all other details necessary for a doctor to understand what happened and how it affected you physically.
Try to recall and write down the names of all coworkers who may have witnessed your accident. These witnesses could be important if there is any dispute about whether you were in an accident or how the accident occurred.
Report the accident in writing and give the written report to the appropriate person at your job. The proper person would be your supervisor or the human resources department or someone else in management. The safest course is to make several copies of your written report and give it to more than one person. Also, it is a good idea to mail the written report to the appropriate address of your employer within 30 days. Do not panic if it has been more than 30 days after your accident, failure to do so will usually not prevent you from collecting.
In an emergency situation, you should seek treatment from the first doctor available. However, once the emergency has subsided, you should give your employer a chance to choose your doctors and other health care providers. If your employer accepts responsibility for your claim, your employer has the right to direct your medical care and to decide what doctors you should see. Outside of an emergency situation, if you choose your own doctor, without allowing your employer to be involved in the decision, it may be difficult to require your employer to pay for that doctor.
From the first opportunity immediately after the accident and throughout the entire claims process, you should keep a written diary of all important information relative to your accident and your claim. You should make a written account to yourself of how the accident happened, your trips to the doctor, your conversations with your employer’s management and with representatives from the insurance company.