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A Personal Injury, Workers' Compensation and Defense Base Act Law Firm Fighting for the Injured.

How do you get medical care if you have an accident at work? (Part One)

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Instead of just creating "commercials" in our blog, we would rather create an informational resource for you. We understand that our clients (past, present, and future) need information because an on the job injury can have a devastating medical and financial impact on the injured worker and their family. Ignorance of the law and the related areas of medicine that affect injured workers can leave you in danger, but information can empower you.

O.K., Florida Statutes, Section 440.13, provides that if you are injured while in the course and scope of employment, "on the job," then you are entitled to medical care. Great! Now, as a practical matter, how do you get it? First of all, you must promptly advise your employer about the accident. Telling a co-worker who is at your same level in the company does not count. It is useful if your co-worker is a witness to the accident or even heard about it shortly after it happened. You still need to report it to someone who is in a superior position to you at work. If there is a Human Resources Department (HR), then telling them works as well.

Generally, you have to let a supervisor or HR person know about the accident within hours of the accident. If you don't do that, let them know as soon as you can. Even if it is weeks or months late, you can still report it. The closer in time to the accident, the better. You may jeopardize your right to benefits if you don't report it promptly. You may be asked to fill out an accident report. Do it, and get a copy. Your supervisor may be the one to complete the report. Try as well to get a copy. You are entitled to a copy. Make sure that the information on it is correct. Make sure that all of your injuries are listed on it. Don't be reluctant to list your injuries. You are not the doctor and you haven't even seen a doctor yet. Therefore, shortly after the accident when it is being first reported, how can you know which injuries will be important? Serious? Long lasting? It is safer and smarter to list everything and then you are likely to be covered.

You then have to ask your supervisor for medical care and treatment. Of course, if an ambulance is taking you to the nearest hospital, then you really do not have to ask for medical care! Normally, however, you have to ask to see a doctor. Supervisors are often called in to testify in workers' compensation cases and they occasionally say something like, "He never asked for a doctor, so I thought he wasn't injured." Avoid that problem; ask to see a doctor!

The supervisor (or their supervisor) has to call the case in to the workers' compensation insurance company. The employer or the insurance company authorizes your medical care. Unfortunately, they get to pick the doctor and you don't! There are some exceptions that we can help with, but generally they pick the doctors.

It is vitally important that you, again, tell the doctor about any and all symptoms that you may have. It is funny, some people are more accurate in describing their car problems to their mechanic than they are in telling a doctor what hurts them. The mechanic has to hear about that funny knocking sound in your car to diagnose it. And, the doctor has to hear about all of your symptoms to diagnose your injuries.

When you fill out the paperwork at the first doctor's office, be sure to write down everything! If the doctor misses something or "forgets" to document a symptom, then the insurance company may later deny you treatment. So, be sure to put "on the record" all of your injuries or symptoms. You do not want to run the risk of the insurance adjuster denying your case, or even some of your injuries on the basis that they were not documented. More details later - - -