Getting hurt at work can be a nerve-wracking experience. First, there's the concern about the degree and severity of your injuries. You may need help from co-workers just to reach the nurse's station or medical facility at your job. Then, there's the concern about how long it will take to heal. Will you make a full recovery, or will your strength and flexibility remain limited after you recover?
You may even worry about whether you'll be able to keep your same job, particularly if it's a physically demanding position. Will you need to find a new job or even a new career path? All of that can be quite concerning, but the good news is that workers' compensation exists to protect you after a work injury.
What should you do after a work injury?
The first thing you should do after an injury is report it to your manager. That way, there are proper internal records of the accident and the injury that resulted. Failing to communicate to your employer about your work injury could result in not receiving workers' compensation or a very delayed claim. From there, seek treatment either on site, if your employer has medical facilities, or at a local office or hospital.
After having your injuries tended to, you'll be filing a claim for workers' compensation to cover your lost wages and medical expenses. After a waiting period of up to 14 days, if you are temporarily disabled, you will receive benefits that cover your lost wages. You can receive two-thirds of your average weekly wage for as long as you're classified as suffering from Temporary Total Disability. All medical expenses will be paid, typically without any co-insurance, deductible or co-pay from the injured worker.
Time off of work is critical to recovery
When you're seriously injured, your body needs time and rest to heal. Forcing yourself to pretend to feel better than you do could end up terminating your benefits and causing pain and even additional injury at a later time. You should adhere to your doctor's recommendations for rest, physical therapy, exercise and returning to work.
In some cases, you may get cleared to return to work for light duty purposes only. If your employer can accommodate your restrictions, you may be able to work while your recovery proceeds. For some injuries, however, returning to work ahead of time could make a recovery take even longer or result in a lowered chance of success. Don't let anyone pressure you into trying to return to work before your doctor agrees you are ready. Instead, follow your doctor's orders as closely as possible to minimize recovery time and improve your overall prognosis.