Texas is one of the most dangerous states for workers, with a fatal workplace injury taking place every 16 hours in 2018. Every day, families in Texas are forced to confront the stress and uncertainty of a work accident.
If you or a loved one has been injured at work, it can be difficult to know what to do, or what’s most important. And it isn’t easy to tell when you need to contact an Austin work accident lawyer to help you recover your damages. Here is a brief guide for what to do in the event of a workplace injury, and when you need to contact an Austin work accident attorney.
What To Do If You Are Injured On The Job
While every workplace is a little different, and every accident is different, here are the general steps to follow if you have been injured at work:
- Seek appropriate medical treatment. Some injuries may require treatment with a first aid kit, while some may require an ambulance and emergency care. Sometimes you may need to just sit down for a while until you feel more calm and stable. Seek whatever care feels reasonable and appropriate to you. Do not allow others to persuade you to delay or avoid medical treatment
- Report your injury quickly. As soon as possible after an incident, report the injury to your direct supervisor. This may be easier to do in person, or by phone or text.
- Document your injury. As soon as it is safe or convenient to do so, document your injury. This may mean taking photographs of the accident scene or any property damage or having someone take pictures of your injuries.
- Report your injury in full. As soon as it is convenient to do so, while it is still fresh in your memory, create a written document that describes the accident in detail. Remember to include all the relevant information that may have contributed to the accident.
- Complete two accident reports. Your company will probably request that you complete some type of accident report form. Complete the form and, if possible, attach or include your own written record with the form. Then report the accident directly to the Texas Department of Insurance Workers’ Comp Division, completing their form and including your written description.
Something to note, though: Reporting your injury to Workers’ Comp is your employer’s responsibility, and they will probably do it for you. However, reporting it yourself ensures that it is done in a timely manner, and includes all the information you think is relevant.
If your employer does not have Workers’ Compensation insurance, contact an Austin work accident lawyer immediately. Workers’ Comp covers your medical bills, lost wages, and other expenses after an injury. For Texas employers who opt out of Workers’ Comp, you have no choice but to sue them for your damages, and the sooner you contact an attorney, the sooner you can begin to protect your rights.
What To Do If You Witness A Workplace Injury
If you witness an accident or injury in the workplace, here are the most important things you should do:
- Take care of yourself. If possible, make sure that you and other people are not also at risk for injury. Shut down any dangerous machinery or equipment, pull a fire alarm, etc. If you can, make the immediate environment less hazardous, and do not put yourself at unnecessary risk to help the injured person.
- Render assistance. Try to help the injured person. Without moving the person, administer first aid or other assistance.
- Call someone. In the case of severe injury, or if there is any doubt about the level of care required, call 911. If the injured person is a coworker, after you call 911, call your supervisor and notify them of the injury.
- Give your contact information. Make sure that the injured person, any first responders, and any representatives of the employer, have your contact information.
- Write down your observations. When you have time, while the incident is still fresh in your memory, write down everything you remember about the accident. If the case goes to court, someone may contact you months later, and having a document of what you remember at the time will be helpful.
What To Do If Your Family Member Has Been Injured at Work
If your family member has been injured at work, it can be a difficult and stressful experience. You may be facing uncertainty about lost wages and finances, or find yourself having to take time to provide extra care and support. Here are the most important things to do if your loved one has been in a workplace accident:
- Look after yourself. In the stress and anxiety of these situations, it’s easy to lose sight of basic self-care, but if you are strong and healthy, you are best able to help others. Try to get good sleep and good nutrition, and take care of your physical and emotional needs even as you shoulder new challenges and responsibilities.
- Keep records. If a loved one is sick or in recovery, they may not be in a mental state to document all their damages. You can help by keeping records and receipts, documenting medical expenses, lost wages, and other effects of the injury.
- Contact an Austin work accident lawyer. Workplace accidents can be complex and have unexpected consequences, and it is difficult to know your rights. If you have experienced pain and distress due to the injury or illness of a loved one, or if you have also experienced lost wages and additional expenses due to caring for an injured person, you need expert legal guidance to help you understand your rights. Family members and loved ones are often overlooked victims in workplace accidents, and it’s important to stand up for your own rights.
What To Do If Your Job Has Made You Sick
Remember that not all workplace injuries are due to sudden accidents on specific days. Some workplace injuries are the result of cumulative effects over time. You may be injured due to repetitive strain, repeated impacts, or ongoing exposure, and may not even know it at the time. Here is what to do if you suspect that your job has made you sick:
- Seek a credible diagnosis. You cannot know for sure what your illness is, or what caused it, without medical care and advice. Visit a physician and describe your symptoms. Find out if they think that your symptoms may be work-related.
- Contact an Austin work accident attorney. If you have been experiencing symptoms for a long time, without a specific inciting incident, it can be difficult to prove your case and recover your damages. It is important to consult with a work accident lawyer as soon as possible to evaluate your case and conduct a professional investigation.
When To Call An Austin Work Accident Lawyer
If you think you may need an attorney, it is always best to consult one as soon as possible. If your work accident lawyer needs to conduct an investigation, it is best done when evidence or witness statements are fresh in the mind and easy to recover. An attorney may also remind you of information you need, or records to keep track of, early in the process, to save time later. Specifically, here are the times you need to contact an Austin work accident lawyer after an injury:
- When the injured person dies. When a personal injury becomes wrongful death, there are more accident victims and different types of recoverable damages. In the case of fatal workplace accidents, it is always best to consult an attorney.
- When the employer or insurance plays hardball. It is normal for employers, agents, or insurance companies to seek to minimize damages and avoid liability. If you accept a settlement, you waive your rights to pursue legal action in the future, so do not accept low settlement offers. If you aren’t getting everything you are entitled to, or if they persist in offering low amounts, consult an attorney.
- When there are additional damages. Workers’ compensation insurance covers medical expenses, lost wages, and other costs related to a workplace injury. However, these may not be the only types of damages experienced in a workplace accident; a spouse or loved one may have their own lost wages, or there may be additional transport or childcare expenses. Lost income or delayed settlements may have caused debts, interest, and late fees. There may be a number of other expenses, in other words, that are not traditionally included in damages for a workplace injury. Talk to an Austin work accident lawyer to determine if you can recover those costs in your case.
The Law Offices of Aaron Allison has over 40 years of experience dealing with workplace injuries in Austin, and we offer free consultations. Contact us today for expert advice on your own case.