If you’ve been injured in the workplace, the first step to take — after seeking immediate medical attention — is to determine whether the incident was truly an accident, or whether it may have been caused by employer negligence. In the first case, you may be entitled to worker’s compensation, since this is a no-fault insurance system that can cover your medical costs regardless of who or what caused the accident. But a safe workplace is one of your rights as an employee, and if you are hurt because your employer neglects health and safety standards, you may need to hire a work injury attorney and file an accident injury claim.
Work-related injury is actually the second-most-common cause for personal injury lawsuits in the United States. If you find yourself in this situation, there are a few things you can do to make your accident injury attorney’s job a little easier — and your claim more likely to succeed.
- Go Through Proper Channels
Communicate with management at your job. Ideally, this will start before an accident ever occurs; if you notice unsafe working conditions, make an official request to your supervisor that the situation be rectified. (Remember that any threats to fire you for reporting safety violations constitutes wrongful dismissal, so don’t let your employer bully you into staying quiet.)
And once you’ve been injured, don’t jump to a lawsuit right away if your employer is willing to negotiate fairly. Beware, though, employers who offer you small sums of money to just keep your mouth shut. Not only will you not get the compensation you need to cover medical bills and lost wages, but conditions are unlikely to improve for you or other workers.
- Document Your Efforts
Keep records of all your interaction with your employer regarding safety concerns and injuries. If you make consistent requests that mold be removed, for example, and then fall ill later because management never followed up, it will help your claim if you can produce emails or copies of reports. This doesn’t need to be aggressive or confrontational. If you casually mention a problem when you see your manager in the breakroom, send a polite follow-up email the day after saying something along the lines of “I know you’re busy, so I just wanted to send in a written request duplicating that problem I mentioned to you the other day,” and then include all the necessary details.
- Keep Medical Records
Any settlement you receive as part of a personal injury lawsuit will be heavily based upon the severity of your illness or injury and the associated costs of medical treatment. Let your doctors know that you need them to be thorough in their notes, and keep copies of medical files, prescriptions and insurance bills.
- Collect Corroborating Evidence
If there are unsafe conditions in your workplace, encourage your colleagues to report them as well. Or if you are hurt in an accident while working, ask that anyone who witnessed the accident make official reports and write down any details they remember.
Only about 2% of all personal injury lawsuits ever make it to court, and that’s generally a good thing, since settlements are usually reached before that becomes necessary. But this kind of evidence will help your accident injury attorney present a more compelling case if necessary.
Have you ever worked with an accident injury attorney? How else can you strengthen a case? Share your helpful tips in the comments.