Hurt at Work? Steps To Take If You’ve Been Injured On The Job

By Joseph M. Wilson, Jr., Attorney at Law

If you have injured on the job in North Carolina, there are some steps you must take in order to protect your rights under the Workers’ Compensation Statutes. It is important to understand that on-the-job injuries are not always due to bad accidents. Workers can also be injured through a slip and fall accident, receive a repetitive motion injury (for example, carpal tunnel syndrome) or be diagnosed with an occupational disease from long-term exposure to chemicals or dangerous materials like asbestos.

The US Department of Labor provides statistics on work injuries. For the latest year available (2010), they report:

  • The median number of days away from work was eight. In over 27% of all days away from work cases, injured workers missed more than 31 days.
  • Laborers and freight, stock and material movers show the highest number of missed days to injury.
  • Sprains, strains and tears were the most commonly reported type of injury and accounted for 40% of all days away from work.
  • Workers ages 45-54 had the highest incidence rate of non-fatal injury and illness, while those 65 and older had the lowest rates.

So what steps must you take if you have a work-related injury?

  1. Report your injury to your employer and seek medical treatment. If your employer has a designated health care provider for work injuries, they will send you to this facility. If your injury is severe, seek treatment at an emergency room immediately and let your employer know of your injury as soon as possible thereafter.
  2. Tell the doctor and/or hospital that your claim is work-related. There is different paperwork required for billing workers’ comp claims.
  3. Inform the manager or owner of the company of your injury. If you are not able to do this in person due to your injury, ask a family member to do so. Follow this up with written notice of your injury, including the time and date and a description of the injury and how it happened. This written notice should be provided as soon as possible after the injury, and definitely within 30 days.  Except in emergencies, written notice should be given before seeking medical treatment.
  4. File a Form 18 with the NC Industrial Commission (use Form 18B if you are reporting a lung condition). This documents your injury with the Commission.  You should also keep one copy of the Form 18 for your records and give another copy to your employer as soon as possible after the injury.
  5. Follow the doctor’s instructions for medical treatment. The goal of workers’ compensation program is to ensure you receive appropriate medical treatment and pay a portion of your wages during your recovery so that you may return to work.

While the majority of injured workers recover and return to work, there are cases where injuries are disputed or the worker is permanently disabled. If this describes your situation, you may wish to consult with a Raleigh-Durham workers compensation attorney.

1 US Department of Labor, www.bls.gov/iif/oshcdnew.htm

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