I’ve been hurt at work — now what do I do?

A: 1.   For gosh sakes, tell someone — a supervisor or your boss is best.  There are two good reasons for this:

a.  If you don’t report your injury it is almost sure to be denied by your employer.

You may know you were hurt, and if you don’t let too much time go by, you may actually remember the date and time you were hurt.  But an employer can’t check out an unreported injury.  And the co-worker you are so sure will back you up is never paying as much attention to you as you think.

For example, if your neighbor stopped by one day to tell you for the very first time that he’d been hurt on your property a few weeks before, and he asked you for a lot of money to pay for his medical bills and time out of work, would you just reach in your pocket and start paying?  No?  Neither will your employer when you don’t report the injury and show up asking for compensation benefits.

b.  You will want a doctor to examine you, but if you’re not on the way to the hospital, you may have to start with your employer’s doctor.

Many employers now use “managed care” programs for workers’ compensation — like an HMO plan only for workers hurt on the job.  As with many HMO plans, your employer’s workers’ compensation medical plan may require you to see a particular doctor before you can be seen by a specialist.  And though you should have a choice of treating doctors, your list of approved choices may be limited (unless you’re not on the way to the hospital for an emergency).  Sometimes, even your family doctor is not part of your employer’s workers’ compensation plan, even though you can see him through your health insurance plan.

By reporting your injury, you can know where to go for your first examination and not have to find out later that your bill won’t be paid, or that your employer will not pay attention to the opinion of the doctor you decided to see.

2.   And get to a doctor at his office, a clinic or the emergency room.  Only a doctor can examine you, order treatment, or prescribe medication to help you get better as quickly as possible.  And only a doctor can tell you and your employer whether you should stay out of work, return with restrictions, or go back to full duty.

For the reasons given in #1, you should always try to tell someone you’ve been hurt.  But if you can’t, never ignore your medical needs!!

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