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5 Steps to Take if You’re Hurt on the Job

Whether it's a minor injury that requires short-term care or a significant one that could have long-lasting effects, knowing the right steps to take immediately after an incident at work can make a crucial difference in your overall recovery (physically, emotionally, and financially). 

But what exactly should you do if you're hurt on the job?

5 Steps You Need to Take

There are few things more frustrating than showing up to work with the intention of fulfilling your job and taking home a paycheck, only to find yourself hurt or injured because of something unsafe that your employer either did or exposed you to. And even if it wasn’t intentional or egregious on their part, there’s still some level of responsibility and a duty of care that your employer owes you while you’re on the job. 

Here are several steps you can take to make sure your health (and rights) are fully protected.

  • Report the Injury Right Away

First off, tell your boss or a supervisor right away that you've been hurt. Even if it seems small, it's important to let someone know. Some injuries might not seem like a big deal at first but can turn into something more serious later on.

Without getting too much into the weeds, the human body is designed in a way that it floods with endorphins when an injury occurs. These endorphins are your body’s natural painkillers, and they exist to prevent you from being overwhelmed with pain. 

However, they have an unintended consequence. If your injuries aren’t immediately visible – e.g. blood, broken bones, etc. – the endorphins can actually trick you into thinking you aren’t hurt as badly as you are. This is why you can’t always trust your body. 

If you suspect there’s even the slightest possibility of an injury, it’s best to get a professional opinion and some treatment. And don't just stop there. Make sure there's a written report. This way, there's no question later about what happened.

  • See a Doctor

As mentioned, it’s always a good idea to get checked out by a doctor. Now, things can get a bit complicated here, depending on the state you work in and the different rules that govern workplace injuries.

In some states, your employer has the right to choose your treating doctor if an injury was caused by a work-related accident. In other states, you can choose any doctor you’d like. It’s a good idea to research these state-specific rules ahead of time so that you know what your rights are in a workplace injury situation. (This is also a good reason to hire a workers’ compensation lawyer who specializes in these cases in your state.)

  • Understand Your Rights

Now that we’ve broached the subject, let’s talk about workers' compensation. It's essentially a safety net that's there to catch you if you get hurt on the job. It can help pay for your doctor's visits and even cover some of your paycheck if you can't work because of your injury.

But every state has different rules – and every employer has specific processes and steps that you’re required to go through in order to capitalize on workers’ compensation. You might need to talk to someone in human resources to get clear on how to proceed. 

  • Document Everything

This part is super important. Keep track of everything related to your injury. Save all the doctor's reports, take pictures of your injury, and write down how it happened and how it's affecting you. It's like keeping a diary, but for your injury. This can help a lot if there's any question about your injury later on, or if you end up in a workers’ compensation or personal injury lawsuit.

  • Be Careful What You Sign

Last but not least, be super careful about signing anything related to your injury, especially from insurance companies. Sometimes, these papers can have fine print that might not be in your best interest, like giving up your right to get more help if your injury worsens. If you're not sure about something, it's okay to ask for help. Again, this is where having an attorney on your side is valuable.

Adding it All Up

If you find yourself in a situation where you’re injured on the job, you can’t afford to take it lightly. It’s important that you respond with intentionality. Hopefully, this article has given you some clear direction on how to proceed. 

At the end of the day, it comes down to being thorough. The more proactive you are, the better your outcome will be.