What to Do After a Work Injury or Accident
The steps you take after an on-the-job accident can significantly affect the outcome of any workers’ compensation claim you need to file later. If you are an injured employee in Arizona, a workers’ compensation attorney can protect your rights and help you pursue the compensation you need for your injury.
At Matt Fendon Law Group, we protect the rights of injured and disabled workers. We can advise on what to do after a workplace accident and how to recover the full workers’ compensation benefits you are entitled to. Contact us today for a free consultation.
Immediate Steps to Take After a Workplace Injury
If you have been injured in the workplace, taking immediate steps to ensure your well-being and protect your rights is essential. Here’s what you need to do:
- Report the incident – Immediately notify your supervisor or employer with detailed information about the injury. Keep a copy of your written report for your records.
- Seek medical attention – Be sure to tell the healthcare provider you were injured in a work accident. If it is not an emergency injury, notify your employer and ask for guidance on where to seek medical treatment.
- Document the details – Take notes about the incident, including the date, time, location, and circumstances surrounding the injury. Get photos of the accident scene, your injuries, and any visible damage, if possible.
- Gather witnesses – If there were any witnesses to the accident, collect their names and contact information.
- Preserve evidence – Keep physical evidence related to the accident in a safe place, and do not tamper with it. Examples of evidence include damaged equipment, torn clothing, or any other objects that played a role in the incident.
- File a claim – You or your employer must file paperwork with the Industrial Commission of Arizona (ICA) to initiate the claims process. A workers’ compensation attorney can help you gather the necessary documentation and file the claim for you. You must file a workers’ compensation claim within one year of the date of the injury.
Understanding Workers’ Compensation in Arizona
The ICA is the state agency that oversees workers’ compensation. Under Arizona law, employers with one or more employees must carry workers’ compensation insurance, with few exceptions.
Workers’ compensation is no-fault coverage for employees hurt on the job. You are likely entitled to these benefits no matter who or what caused the accident, injury, or illness. In most instances, workers’ compensation should cover the following expenses:
- Medical bills, including hospital and emergency room visits, prescriptions, doctor’s visits, physical therapy, ongoing care, and reimbursement for travel to medical appointments
- Partial wage replacement for temporary, permanent, partial, or total disability
- Funeral costs and death benefits to the family of an employee who dies in a work-related accident
Insurance Companies and Workers’ Compensation Claims
When you’re hurt on the job, you must report the injury to your employer, who notifies the insurance company. Without the claim from your employer, the insurance company will not process your claim — and payment for any medical bills and other expenses will come out of your pocket.
Many injured workers consult a workers’ compensation attorney about their claims to ensure a smooth filing process and potentially avoid claim denials. It can also be challenging to concentrate on gathering medical records, receipts, and other documents while you’re injured or sick.
Document Your Injuries for the Claim
Workers’ compensation coverage is paid through an insurance company. Insurers will want detailed evidence of the accident, your injury, and the necessary medical treatment. You can help your case by:
- Documenting your injury with medical test results, hospital bills, doctor notes, and anything else that verifies injuries or illness
- Following all medical advice and treatment plans from your doctor
- Attending all appointments and keep records of your medical treatments, including prescriptions and rehabilitation sessions
- Keeping track of missed workdays due to the injury, or time missed for doctor’s appointments or therapy
Hiring an AZ Workers’ Compensation Attorney for Legal Representation
No rule says you must hire an attorney to assist you in your workers’ compensation case. However, the ICA cautions that claimants representing themselves will still be expected to follow procedural rules during hearings and that the insurance company may retain a workers’ compensation attorney to protect their interests. For that reason, you should seriously consider hiring your lawyer to fight for the benefits you deserve.
A qualified workers’ compensation attorney from Matt Fendon Law Group will:
- Provide an objective evaluation of your case and advise you on the types of benefits you could receive
- Discuss the potential outcomes of filing a workers’ compensation claim
- Gather the evidence needed to build a strong claim for maximum benefits
- Negotiate with the insurance company to secure a fair settlement that covers your medical expenses and lost wages
- Guide you through the appeals process (if necessary)
- Take action if an employer tries retaliating against you for filing a workers’ compensation claim
- Advise on whether you might have a third-party liability lawsuit against another party and connect you with experienced personal injury attorneys
Common Challenges in Workers’ Compensation Cases
A work accident or injury is devastating enough without the insurance company denying your claim or making a lowball settlement offer. Some insurance carriers look for any reason to challenge your claim.
Common challenges to a workers’ compensation claim include:
- The injury wasn’t reported promptly.
- There’s insufficient medical evidence to show that the injury or illness is work-related.
- The injury or illness is a pre-existing condition.
- The injured worker delayed or failed to seek medical treatment.
- The worker submitted incorrect or incomplete paperwork.
- No employer-employee relationship exists.
A workers’ compensation attorney can anticipate challenges from the insurance company and gather the appropriate evidence to combat their claims. They can also file an appeal, provide additional evidence, or take your case to court if necessary.
Moving Forward After a Workplace Injury
Keeping an open line of communication with your employer during your recuperation period can help ease the transition when you return to work. You should also:
- Inform your employer in advance if you need time off for doctor’s appointments, physical therapy, and other recommended medical care.
- Keep a written log of your appointments, receipts, medical records, and doctor’s notes.
- Talk to a workers’ compensation lawyer if you believe your employer treats you differently because you filed a claim.
Contact an Arizona Certified Specialist in Workers’ Compensation Law
Matt Fendon Law Group is nationally recognized for defending injured workers’ rights. Firm founder Matt Fendon is certified by the State Bar of Arizona as a specialist in workers’ compensation law, allowing us to provide top-quality legal representation to injured Arizonans. Let our hard-hitting legal team help you. Call or contact us today for a free consultation.