For most people, their employment is what makes it so that they can keep food on the table and provide for their family. So, what happens when a person gets injured at work and they are unable to work as a result of the injury? The good news is any company in New Hampshire that hires employees is required to have workers’ compensation insurance designed to assist injured employees. This article will discuss what to do when you’re injured at work and the type of benefits that may be available to you.
First, let’s discuss the steps you should take when you get hurt at work. Let’s say you’re a server at a busy restaurant and, in the process of getting food for a table, you slip on a water puddle in the kitchen injuring your left wrist. The first thing you need to do when you get hurt is find your supervisor and tell them what happened. They’re required to fill out a First Report of Injury form that contains all of the details regarding your injury (i.e. date, time, location, etc.). This is important because not only does it specifically set the date and time for the injury, it also puts your employer on notice that you’ve been injured while working. To make sure your rights as an injured employee are protected, you have to make sure you tell your supervisor every time you’re hurt on the job, no matter how small you might believe the injury to initially be.
The next step after getting injured is to make sure you notify any treating provider that it is a work-related injury and how that injury occurred. Going back to the example of the server, let’s say he decides to go to Elliot Hospital to get his wrist checked out after the fall. It would be in his best interest to make sure he tells the doctor/nurse that he was injured at work when he slipped on water. The workers’ compensation insurance adjusters and attorneys will be parsing through every page of your medical record after you are injured in determining whether to accept or deny your claim for benefits, so it’s important to make sure you explain to any doctor or nurse how the injury happened and that it’s work related as the treating doctor or nurse will write that into the narrative section of your medical record.
Lastly, if you do end up going to the hospital or doctor for the work injury, make sure you have them fill out a Workers Compensation Medical Form for every single visit. These are forms provided by the Department of Labor and the treating provider should have the forms readily available on site. These forms specifically ask such questions as to whether the injury is related to employment, whether the employee can return to work at this time, and whether the employee has any restrictions. These forms are extremely important should there ever be any question on whether you’re entitled to benefits.
Taking these three steps will greatly increase your likelihood of receiving the types of benefits available from your employer’s workers’ compensation carrier. The first type of benefits are indemnity benefits. Basically, if awarded indemnity benefits, the insurance company send you weekly checks that total 60% of your total take home weekly salary. So, if the server was unable to go to back to work for a period of time and was taking home $500.00 per week at the time of the injury, he would receive weekly checks from the insurance company in the amount of $300.00 while he cannot work. While it’s a significant amount less than what the server was making at the time of injury, some income is better than no income.
The other available benefit after injury is for payment of any medical bills related to care of the injury. This means that, if the injury is found to be work related, the insurance carrier for the employer shall be required to pay any medical bills associated with the claim. Keep in mind that the insurance company will try to fight you on whether certain doctors’ appointments are necessary or related, so many sure, as discussed above, you always have the provider fill out those Workers Compensation Medical Forms. Hospital bills, especially surgeries and overnight stays, are extremely expensive, so making sure the insurance carrier is covering these bills is imperative to your case.
While not an immediately available benefit after injury, you may also later be entitled to a permanency award for the injury. So, let’s say that after the injury, the server had a permanency evaluation done and it was determined that he lost 10% use of his left wrist. He would be entitled to a “permanency award” based on a formula provided by the workers’ compensation statute. You also may later be entitled to vocational rehabilitation which pays for job training if you are no longer available to return to your previous type of employment.
For injured employees, there are many remedies available to you, but you need to be proactive in protecting your rights should you be hurt. If you do get injured at work and your employer is refusing to provide you with benefits, give our office a call at 603-232-5220 and let us put our years of workers compensation experience to work for you.