What Rights Do Employees Have After a Workplace Injury?

Personal Injury

Personal Injury

Despite most company’s efforts to ensure the safety of their staff, injuries in the workplace still happen. Whether a true accident or an instance of ignored safety protocols, work injuries are a common and concerning issue. These situations can often be confusing and bring uncertainty, especially when it comes to liability, getting paid time off, and the rights of the employee. In the aftermath of an on-the-job injury, keep in mind that employees are privy to certain rights.

Understanding Your Rights

Most employees in the United States have rights under state and federal law when it comes to work injuries. Every state except for Texas is required to carry workers’ compensation insurance for this purpose, and that insurance helps employees access the care they need. The following are some of the specific rights of injured employees.

Right to Medical Care

As mentioned, most employers have an obligation to cover their employees’ medical treatment in the case of work injuries. To access this medical coverage, injured workers need to report their injury to their employer within a specific amount of time, depending on their state.

Injured employees also have the right to choose their own doctor, as long as they are in the approved insurance network. As with most aspects of workers’ compensation, there are exceptions and intricacies that will be specific to your case.

In terms of the workers’ compensation coverage itself, there are some limitations. Coverage could be denied if the injury was caused by the employee acting recklessly or grossly negligent, such as being intoxicated.

Right to Compensation

Workers’ compensation is in place to provide financial support to injured workers during recovery. The types of compensation provided include wage replacement and disability benefits. In the case of a fatal workplace accident, the survivors of the deceased can receive death and dependency benefits, which can go towards funeral costs as well as wage replacement for dependents of the deceased.

Despite this, there can be challenges in obtaining fair compensation after an accident. There are lawyers who specialize in workers’ compensation claims and can help with denied claims and other issues.

Right to a Safe Work Environment

Regardless of whether an accident occurs, employees have the right to a safe work environment. This encompasses a whole variety of things, from physical safety to emotional safety. Employers need to provide a workplace free from hazards, harassment, and more.

Employers are responsible for implementing safety protocols and communicating them to their teams, as well as providing proper safety equipment. Additionally, if there are unsafe working conditions, employees have the right to report them without fear of retaliation.

OSHA is the government entity that oversees safety for workplaces in the United States. They can issue fines for safety violations, and concerned employees can report unsafe work environments to OSHA if their employer is not taking action. Although the existence of workers’ compensation prevents employees from filing injury lawsuits, that doesn’t mean that companies are completely in the clear. If an employee injury or death occurs due to recklessness or gross negligence by the employer, they could be held liable.

Right to Job Security

While taking time off to recover from an injury, employees are protected from losing their jobs. Employees cannot be fired for filing a workers’ compensation claim, because this would be a form of retaliation. Workers’ compensation retaliation is illegal, meaning that employers cannot treat injured employees differently. Once the injured worker is ready to return to work, they will be guaranteed the right to return to their previous position, or a similar position with comparable pay and benefits.

It’s important to stay in contact with your employer and document all communication.

Resources and Support

No one should face a workplace injury alone. Fortunately, a network of resources and support systems exists to guide you through every step of the journey. Here are some valuable tools to empower you:

Government Agencies:

Worker Advocacy Groups:

Online Resources:

Remember, seeking help is a sign of strength, not weakness. Utilize these resources, ask questions, and advocate for your needs. You deserve to receive the support and compensation you are entitled to after a workplace injury.

Moving Forward

Facing a workplace injury can be overwhelming, leaving you with physical pain, financial stress, and uncertainty about your future. But amidst the challenges, remember: you have rights. As an employee, you are entitled to medical care, compensation, a safe work environment, and job security after getting hurt on the job. To heal properly, make sure to take your time recovering and let a legal professional handle the logistics.