All workplace injuries are covered financially by insurance when the employer has been compliant with state employment law. Federal law mandates that all states establish a workers’ compensation administrative board that will oversee and authorize valid injury claims, but each state has the authority to structure the program to suit state needs.
Employers have a proper protocol to follow when injuries are reported, and the system works relatively well when the employers are agreeable. But, this is not always the case when a workplace injury is serious or when the injury was caused directly by another employee. Accidents are common, but all injuries are not necessarily accidental when tensions arise at work between employees. The material case factors of the injury claim can be serious matters, depending on the situation.
Report the Injury Immediately
The first step should always be reporting the injury to an immediate supervisor as soon as possible, even if it must be done by someone else. Sometimes a work injury can be very serious and could lead to long-term medical problems or a fatality.
The employer should then call for medical help if necessary, including calling an ambulance if no nurse is on duty, and then proceed with filing a report. If no immediate supervisor is available and the injury is serious, it may be necessary to seek medical treatment first or call 911. This action will generate a report when protocol cannot be followed at work.
It is very important to keep copies of any medical bills from the very beginning, even when the employer has accepted responsibility. Injuries that occur at the hands of another employee are covered regardless of accidental or intentional nature as long as the injured party was performing job-related duties at the time, but the employer will want to learn as much information as possible.
This also means that there may be competing versions of what happened. Pictures of the injuries can also be solid evidence and help your lawyer in deciding the extent of damage done, including potential damage compensation available. Keeping a journal of pain level can be very effective as well when the pain from the injury is significant. Recording difficulties functioning during your daily routine are important as well.
One of the most important determinations for workers’ compensation coverage is how the injury occurred and whether it is the result of an intentional act or altercation at work. Horseplay is generally not covered by workers’ comp and could result in termination of all involved parties, depending on the occupation. The contribution and actions of the injured employee can matter also, but workers’ compensation is essentially a “no fault” coverage. Workers can be covered even when they injure themselves.
If the issue that resulted in the injury was work-related, the injury is more than likely protected. This does not mean the employer will not defend against the claim, but ultimately the state workers’ compensation board will rule in favor of the injured employee when they have not provoked the attack. Innocent bystanders hurt by others who are exhibiting horseplay are covered, and even criminal charges can be filed when some co-workers purposely physically attack and injure another worker.
Always Call a Workers’ Compensation Lawyer
It is never a good decision to file a work injury claim without at least discussing your case with an workers’ comp attorney because cases can become very complicated when multiple parties are involved. The insurance company will also conduct their own investigation and could be the most difficult party in negotiation proceedings.
The claim could be much more valuable than realized, and could even include a potential civil suit against the co-worker when your legal counsel can prove the injury was an unprovoked intentional act. Both the co-worker and the employer could be liable, and punitive damages that are normally not available could be a result of the case. Just because someone is injured at work does not mean that laws of behavior do not apply as well. Always discuss your injury case with an experienced work injury lawyer.