Legal Checklist: 12 Key Steps Your Houston Work Accident Lawyer Would Want You to Take After Sustaining a Work-Related Injury
Sustaining an injury at work can be a life-altering experience. Between the physical pain, emotional trauma, and financial constraints, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed in the aftermath. However, there are important legal steps you need to take to protect your rights and access the benefits you deserve.
Here is a checklist of steps you should take to ensure you have the best chance of a favorable outcome.
1. Report the Injury Immediately
It’s critical to alert your employer about the injury as soon as possible. Under Texas law, you must provide written notice of a work injury within 30 days or risk losing certain rights and benefits. Verbally informing a supervisor or manager is a good start, but follow up with a formal written notice of the date, time, location, and circumstances of the incident. Keep copies for your records.
The quicker you report, the better positioned you’ll be when seeking workers’ compensation or negotiating a personal injury settlement later. It also helps to establish an official timeline from the very beginning.
2. Get Medical Attention Right Away
Your health and recovery should be the top priorities after an accident. See a doctor immediately, even if the injuries seem minor at first. Reporting and documenting conditions early can make a big difference if you need extensive treatment later.
Be sure to inform all medical providers that your injuries are work-related, and provide your employer’s insurance details whenever possible. Ask for copies of medical records and bills for your files as well.
3. Document the Incident Thoroughly
When it comes to proving a work injury claim later, documentation is key. In addition to medical records, collect information to recreate a clear picture of how the incident occurred. For example:
- Take photos at the scene showing unsafe conditions or equipment defects
- Obtain contact info for witnesses who can provide statements later
- Write down exact quotes from conversations with supervisors following the incident
- Keep a diary tracking symptoms and how injuries impact your daily functioning
Thorough documentation not only helps your Houston work accident lawyer prove your case, but also protects you if the facts are ever disputed later.
4. Avoid Giving Recorded Statements Prematurely
Insurance adjusters representing your employer will likely want to obtain a recorded statement from you soon after the incident. It’s important not to rush into this until you have legal representation. Anything you say can be used against you later.
Politely decline to give an official statement until you have discussed the case with a work injury attorney. You may provide basic medical updates to your employer, but avoid discussing fault or giving opinions about causation.
5. Don’t Post About the Incident on Social Media
It can be tempting to vent about a workplace injury on social media. However, doing so can pose legal risks or enable the opposition to use your words against you. Insurance companies are increasingly scouring platforms like Facebook and Twitter for evidence that could jeopardize claims.
Simply avoid posting anything about the incident or its aftermath online until your case is resolved. You don’t want careless posts undermining all your hard work documenting the claim properly. Tell friends and family to refrain from public postings as well.
6. Call an Experienced Houston Work Injury Lawyer
Filing claims and negotiating settlements is a complex legal process. It can be confusing and stressful, and going it alone may leave you susceptible to making mistakes. Therefore, for such claims, you need the right lawyer in your corner from day one if you want to maximize your chances of receiving the maximum possible compensation.
An experienced Houston work accident attorney should be one of your very first calls after seeking medical care. Look for a Houston lawyer with extensive experience specifically handling work injury cases. Find out about their track record fighting insurers and recovering maximum damages for clients. Most work accident lawyers offer free case evaluations and handle cases on a contingency fee basis.
7. File for Workers’ Compensation Benefits
Most employees are entitled to Texas workers’ compensation benefits if injured on the job. This no-fault system covers medical expenses and helps replace lost wages by paying a portion of your salary while recovering. There are also benefits for permanent impairment or death.
formal workers’ comp claim should be filed within one year of the injury, although prompt filing speeds up the process. An experienced lawyer guides you through collecting medical evidence, calculating lost wages, and submitting the appropriate paperwork.
8. Assess Third-Party Liability
While workers' compensation can provide basic coverage, damages may be capped. So it’s also important to assess whether a negligent third party could be liable for additional compensation. For example, if defective equipment caused the incident, the manufacturer could hold shared blame under product liability laws.
Likewise, if you were injured in a car accident while driving for work, the at-fault driver’s liability insurance could cover extra damages. An attorney investigates these possibilities. Taking legal action against companies directly often yields far higher settlements than workers' comp alone.
9. Compile Evidence Supporting Your Claim
Work accident laws put the burden of proof on the injured employee, so gathering strong evidence is paramount. In addition to the documentation collected immediately after the incident, build a robust file including:
- Personnel records verifying your compensation rate and employment status
- Medical opinions linking current impairment to the workplace injury
- Vocational assessments if the injury prevents you from returning to prior work
- Expert testimony from engineers, doctors, etc supporting your version of events
- Video surveillance or photographs capturing unsafe working conditions
Your lawyer utilizes evidence like this to prove accident cases involving complex legal standards. Having it ready streamlines the process.
10. Maintain Comprehensive Treatment Records
Thorough medical documentation not only helps substantiate initial and ongoing claims for benefits, but could also bolster future injury claims as well. Workers' compensation covers immediate care, but you retain the right to bring third-party liability claims years down the line if post-accident health problems emerge.
Follow prescribed treatment plans closely, keeping detailed records over time. Be transparent in discussing all conditions with your doctors too. Clear connections legally traced back to the original workplace injury strengthen your position. Don’t leave gaps that insurers can exploit to evade paying what you deserve.
11. Return to Work When Medically Able
Texas workers’ compensation laws encourage getting injured employees back to work promptly to promote better recoveries. There are also rules about what benefits you qualify for if you refuse reasonable accommodative or alternate work.
Talk to your doctor about any modified duty restrictions so your employer can make accommodations that allow you to return part or full-time without compromising your healing. These arrangements benefit both sides when done properly. Consider vocational retraining if injuries prevent resuming your prior position.
12. Explore Social Security Disability
For catastrophic injuries with permanent effects preventing you from gainful employment, Social Security Disability Insurance benefits provide critical ongoing income. Your experienced Houston work accident lawyer assists here as well.
Navigating Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) claims involves collecting medical determinations of “total disability”, verifying your eligibility status, understanding approved conditions under SSDI law, and more. Legal experts guide you through this complex process from start to finish as well.
Suffering any work-related injury can negatively impact multiple aspects of life in one blow. But you don’t have to handle the aftermath alone. With an experienced Houston work accident lawyer advising you, complicated legal and insurance processes become far less daunting. You can focus energy on healing while professionals fight to secure the disability aids, lost wage reimbursements, and just compensation you rightly deserve.
You provide the details unique to your case, and knowledgeable legal experts handle the rest – from strategic paperwork filing to negotiations with insurers seeking to lowball legitimate claims. Hire a good law firm with a proven track record of delivering favorable settlements, and trust that they can deliver on their promises. Doing so will help relieve stress, make the process less confusing, and allow you to recover more easily.