Despite increased safety standards and better oversight, over 10,000 employees in the United States suffer workplace injuries every day. Workers compensation attorneys are often asked what a worker should do after an injury to make sure the evidence is preserved. Contacting an attorney is an important step, but there are things you can do even before speaking to an attorney to make it easier on yourself and the law firm that may ultimately represent you.
Take photos that show where and how you were injured. Write down an account of what happened immediately and text or email it to yourself. If any of your colleagues witnessed the incident, get their names and phone numbers and ask them to send you a brief description of what they saw.
You should try to collect photos and evidence that show the extent of your injuries as well as anything that caused them. Ordinarily, workers compensation cases proceed without regard to fault, but in certain situations there can be another party who is also responsible for your injuries. If this is the case, you’ll want to be able to show that you didn’t contribute, so you can bring a separate personal injury claim in parallel with your workers compensation claim. This is particularly common if your injuries take place away from your ordinary place of employment.
Examples of photo evidence could include:
- Oil or other liquid on the floor that caused you to slip
- Improperly-stacked boxes or products that collapsed
- Machinery that malfunctioned and injured you
- Tire marks or vehicle damage if you were in a car accident on the clock
By carefully cataloguing all the evidence, you can preserve your case if you end up making a claim against a responsible third party. Not only will you have proof of your injuries, but you’ll be able to show more convincingly that a third party’s negligence caused your damages. You cannot make a claim for pain and suffering against your employer, but you can make such a claim against an outside entity.
Depending on your specific jurisdiction, there may be strict time limits for when a workplace injury can be reported. If you don’t let your supervisor know right away, it could hurt your case. Even if you are within the required timeline, a delay in reporting could lead to the destruction of evidence, including documents and video footage, which could provide critical in proving your case later on.
You should document your reporting as carefully as you documented your injuries. Write down who you spoke to and when you made your report. If you have specific evidence, make sure you provide copies, not originals. You should insist on a written incident report and request a signed copy for your own files. Take a photograph of the incident report and email it to yourself in case you lose the physical copy.
Contact an attorney
Even if you believe your employer will cooperate with the workers compensation claim, you should always speak to a workers compensation attorney in order to make sure you have the necessary documentation to prove your injuries. Long Island work injury attorneys who handle workers compensation cases will be able to help you document your injuries and let you know if you have a separate personal injury case you can also pursue.
Thanks to Polsky, Shouldice & Rosen, P.C. for their insight into workers compensation and proving an injury happened at work.