1. Report the Work Injury As Soon As Possible
This is critical - you need to tell a supervisor or your boss that you got hurt on the job. It's not enough to tell a co-worker or just to say "my back hurts." You need to say "I hurt my back lifting a pipe." Don't assume that they know you got hurt at work - even if a supervisor was there at the time or you think someone else reported it. In D.C. workers comp, you have 30 days to give your employer notice of the injury - but don't wait that long. Waiting will just give the workers comp insurance adjuster more time to question your legitimate work injury.
2. Get Names of Witnesses
Did anyone witness your accident? Workers' comp cases can become difficult if the insurance company claims that you were not injured at work, or says your problems are due to an old injury or medical condition, or aging, etc. - it happens all the time to people who are legitimately injured at work. If you were injured at work, there's likely no better way to prove it than co-workers who witnessed the accident testifying for you on your behalf. So, it's important to write down who was there.
Many injuries don't have any witnesses - that's perfectly legitimate. Just remember to report the work injury as soon as possible.
3. Get the Medical Treatment You Need for Your Work Injury
In D.C. workers comp (and Maryland workers comp as well) you have a right to choose your own doctor for medical treatment. Don't let the insurance company tell you they have a doctor for you or you have to go to some company clinic or an approved specialist - none of that is true!
When you go to the doctor or hospital for the first time after the work injury, tell them everything you injured at work. If you hurt your shoulder and your knee on the job, tell the doctor that, even if he is just a shoulder specialist and won't touch the knee. It's important to make him aware of the extent of your injuries so the workers comp insurance can't later say you didn't hurt your knee at work or if it was really hurt you would have reported it to the doctor on that first visit...Remember, the workers comp insurance adjuster's job is to reduce the amount of money they pay you and your family - and that is just one way they do it.
In Virginia workers comp, you will get a panel of 3 doctors to choose from. But if you need immediate medical care, you're entitled to get it right away.
These are just 3 tips - there is much more action to take to have a successful DC workers comp case that takes care of you and your family after a serious injury at work. Call us to discuss your specific situation and how we can help you and your family