How to Prove That an Injury Happened at Work
Written by AskTheLawyers.com™ on behalf of Sarah E. Stottlemyer with Stottlemyer & Associates, LLC.
Injuries can happen at work in any industry and in a wide variety of ways. However, the problem with certain types of workplace injuries can be proving when, where, and how that injury occurred. If it is not possible to prove how an injury occurred, it can be difficult to identify a reliable means of recovery. For example, workers’ compensation is a form of workplace injury insurance designed to protect employers from liability while offering financial support to people injured on the job; however, to qualify for workers’ compensation, the injured party must be able to prove that their injury was sustained in the course of their job.
If the injury occurred at work due to the negligence of the employer or a third party, you may also be eligible to file a workplace or third-party injury claim, but will still be required to prove how that injury happened. Damages that can be sought in an injury claim tend to be more comprehensive than those of a workers’ compensation claim, if not as immediate, and may include medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and more.
The following steps can help prove that an injury was sustained at work:
- Call a supervisor. The first thing you need to do if you are injured at work is to tell someone in charge. Whether this is a supervisor, manager, or the employer themself, it’s important to begin creating a record right off the bat proving that the injury occurred while you were working, and that the necessary parties were informed as soon as possible.
- Take pictures at the scene of the accident. It’s also important to take pictures at the scene of the injury; these may include pictures of any other property damaged in the injury, the injury itself, as well as any environmental factors that might have contributed to the injury, such as another driver’s vehicle, a broken railing, or a defective piece of equipment. If you are too injured to do so, a friend, loved one, co-worker, or even an attorney can do so on your behalf.
- Collect witness information. If anyone was there to witness the accident, be it a bystander or a co-worker, it’s important to collect their name and contact information, and even record a testimony from them if they agree to it. Unfortunately, this can be harder to do after the fact, so it’s a good idea to collect this information as soon as possible. If you are too injured to do so, a friend, loved one, co-worker, or attorney can do so on your behalf.
- Seek immediate medical care. If you were not already whisked away for emergency medical treatment, it’s important to seek medical care as soon as possible. Waiting to see a doctor can actually have a negative impact on your claim further down the road, potentially allowing an employer to argue that you weren’t that injured if you were able to wait to seek care.
- Contact Human Resources (HR). It’s important to follow up regarding the incident with your employer’s HR department. If your employer does not have an HR department, you may have to follow up with your employer directly. Sending an email is a great way to do this, because it ensures that a written, digital copy of your exchange exists, proving that you took the initial necessary steps to begin filing a workers’ compensation claim. If there are any complications with your workers’ compensation claim, consider reaching out to a workers’ compensation attorney for assistance.
- Attend follow-up medical appointments. It’s important to follow the advice of your doctor as closely as possible; not only does this prioritize your health and recovery, but failing to follow your doctor’s orders can actually hurt your claim, and may even make you ineligible for continuing to receive workers’ compensation benefits.
- Talk to a workplace injury attorney. If you suspect that your injury could have been prevented by proper attention to safety on behalf of your employer or a co-worker, you may be eligible to file a workplace injury claim. In this scenario, the attorney will investigate the situation and attempt to hold the liable party accountable for the full extent of your damages.
To learn more about how to prove that an injury happened at work, or to investigate your own workplace injury claim, reach out to a workplace injury attorney in your area.