Were You Hurt at Work? Report Your Injury
Every day, workers suffer injuries in a wide range of occupations in Charleston, West Virginia and across the country. Most of these workers must immediately file a claim for workers' compensation benefits in order to ensure they get the medical care they need and - quite frankly - to pay their everyday expenses.
Based on data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, every day in our country:
- 12 workers die from occupational injuries
- 134 workers die from work-related illnesses
- 10,410 workers suffer non-fatal occupational injury or illnesses
- 7,945 workers get emergency treatment for work injuries and illnesses
- 411 workers are hospitalized
Getting seriously injured on the job can be a scary, traumatic experience. This is especially true if the injury requires you to get emergency medical treatment.
However, once the shock subsides, and you are getting the medical care you need, you need to think about taking steps to protect your legal rights, including the right to workers' compensation medical and disability benefits.
Reporting Your Injury Is Required by Law
West Virginia law makes it clear that the responsibility of pursuing a workers' compensation claim rests with you, the injured worker. Your responsibility starts at actually the moment you are injured.
If you are hurt at work in an accident or for another reason, then you or your "representative" must report your injury to your employer as soon as practicable. The failure to do so can ultimately cost you the benefits you need and deserve.
If you can report the injury on the same day as an accident, or within 24 hours, it will be in your best interests. However, just make sure to report it within a reasonable amount of time. Don't delay taking action.
The notice of your injury must be in writing. You can give the notice to your employer or one of its "agents" such as a foreman, supervisor, manager or HR director. You can personally submit the notice or, if it is more convenient, you can send the notice by certified mail. You must also send the notice or a copy by mail to the West Virginia Workers' Compensation Commission (WCC).
It is important to know: You cannot establish a workers' compensation benefits claim with the WCC until you give this written notice of injury. To protect your right to benefits, you must file a claim within six months after the date of your injury or the death of a loved one.
How Do Report Your Work Injury in West Virginia?
The West Virginia workers' compensation statutes, or laws, provide a list of what must be included in a written notice of injury. The required elements are:
- Employer's name and address
- Employee's name and address
- Time, place, nature and cause of the injury
- Whether the injury has resulted in temporary total disability
The best thing to do may be to simply use the WCC's online "Employees' and Physicians' Report of Injury" form. Simply download it and fill it out.
As you will see, the form has two sections:
You complete the first section. In that section, you will need to make sure you describe the body parts injured in your work accident, what you were doing when it happened and whether any objects or equipment were involved.
The doctor who provides initial treatment to you completes the second section. The form asks the doctor to include information such as the date that he or she was first consulted about your injury, your diagnosis and how long the doctor believes your disability period will last.
If you have questions about the form, you can call the WCC at (800) 628-4265.
Contact an Experienced West Virginia Work Injury Attorney
The next stage in your case is for your employer to report your injury to the WCC and to decide whether it deems your injury to be "compensable."
If an employer denies your claim or delays making a decision, you should contact an attorney right away. In fact, you should get legal help if you get no decision on your claim within 14 days after you submit your notice of injury.
If you or a loved one has been hurt at work, the skilled and experienced attorneys and staff of Mani Ellis & Layne, PLLC, will make sure the rights of you and your family are protected.
We can make sure your claim for benefits is properly pursued. We can also assist you in exploring your options for a recovery that goes beyond what workers' compensation provides.
Contact us today to learn more. Our legal team, which includes members of the Million Dollar Advocates Forum® and the Multi-Million Dollar Advocates Forum,® would be glad to speak with you in a free and confidential consultation.