Broken bones are among the most common workplace injuries. While they are more common in industries like construction, they can happen in any setting. All it takes is a slip and fall, equipment malfunction or falling object. Sometimes the injury may be due to negligence on someone’s part but other times, it can simply be a freak accident. If you’ve been unfortunate enough to suffer a broken bone at work, you may wonder what happens next.
Typically, you will have to draw on your company’s workers’ compensation insurance. Most employers in Nebraska are required to carry this insurance for full-time, seasonal, part-time, temporary, and minor employees. Nebraska’s Workers’ Compensation Act applies to almost every employee excluding domestic and agricultural workers, federal employees, and some other categories of workers. If you are covered, here are four things which are likely to happen.
1. You can see a doctor of your choice
You don’t have to seek your employer’s permission to see the doctor. Instead, you can go once it is clear that you’ve been injured. Your employer and their insurer will still be required to pay your medical expenses. Moreover, you can choose to see your family doctor or any doctor or who has treated you or an immediate relative in the past. That doctor can freely refer you to specialists as necessary. If you don’t have a doctor, your employer may have the right to choose one.
2. You have to fill out a claim form
You should notify your employer about your injury as soon as it’s practical. However, they need to offer you a workers’ compensation claim form regardless of how they become aware of your injury. These forms are also available at doctors’ offices and emergency rooms. Until you fill out this form, your employer is not obligated to pay you any benefits. If your employer refuses to give you a form, you need to contact the Nebraska Workers’ Compensation Court or an attorney.
3. Your employer has to send the form to their insurer
After you’ve completed the part of the form for employees, a representative of the company needs to fill out the employer section. They should give you a copy and forward the original to their workers’ compensation insurance company. Within 14 days, the insurance company is required to send you a letter outlining the status of your claim.
4. You can recover a wide range of damages
Depending on the bone you broke and how serious the injury is, you may be able to get significant damages. You will get medical benefits which can cover hospitalization, drugs, surgery, prosthetics and other medical costs. You may also get wage compensation after a seven-day waiting period. This is the equivalent of two-thirds of your average income over the 26 weeks prior to the injury. If you will be unable to return to your previous post, you may be covered for vocational rehabilitation which helps you to get placed in another job.
The above happens if everything goes smoothly. However, sometimes the employer’s insurance company refuses to pay damages or only wants to pay a portion. Your employer may also try to get you to return to work earlier than your doctor recommends. When this happens, you need to contact an attorney for advice. Workers’ compensation is intended to support you when a workplace injury renders you unable to perform your duties. Sometimes, it’s easy to get benefits but when challenges appear, don’t be afraid to seek legal help.