No matter how careful you try to be on your job, accidents happen. Workplace injuries can leave you in dire need of medical care and keep you off the clock for weeks, months or longer.
With that in mind, it’s smart to know what to do to protect your right to workers’ compensation — before you get injured. That way, you’re prepared and ready to act.
Here’s how to protect your interest in a workers’ comp claim
Let’s assume that you’re the victim of a sudden injury (instead of something that creeps up on you over time, like carpal tunnel syndrome). As soon as possible, you should:
- Get medical attention. Although your employer can select your regular treating physician for workers’ comp in this state, you are entitled to seek emergency medical care whenever you need to go without prior authorization.
- Tell your doctor. Do not try to hide the fact that you were injured while working. What you say to the doctor will go into your medical chart, and that could be important later if there are questions about the veracity of your claim.
- Report the injury. Generally, you only have 14 days to report the injury to your employer. Although there are situations where you can have up to 90 days to make the report, don’t assume that you fall into any of those narrow exceptions. Put your notice in writing and keep a copy. Ask for any assistance you need to file your claim.
Your employer has a legal obligation to let the New Jersey Division of Workers’ Compensation know about your claim. If they fail to do so or your claim is denied (or unreasonably delayed), it may be time to speak to an attorney about your rights. Even though workers’ comp is supposed to be a simple process, there are no guarantees that you’ll get what you are due without legal intervention.