In private industries alone, more than 2.7 million nonfatal injuries occured in the workplace in 2020. From trips and falls to crashes and collisions, all work environments — even desk jobs — can put you at risk for illness or injury.
If it happens to you, it’s best to know what to do ahead of time, because the stress of the injury feels much worse when you’re trying to navigate your company’s protocols.
Every state has its own set of regulations regarding the sequence of events required when a workplace injury happens. If you work in the state of Iowa, keep reading to find out which rules apply to you so you can be prepared in case you ever have an unfortunate accident on the job.
During the process, you may be required to visit an independent medical examiner, like Dr. Stanley Mathew at the American Rehabilitation Center in Dubuque and Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Here, he explains what that means and what you should do immediately following an on-the-job injury.
The first thing to do if you get injured at work is assess your pain and the extent of your injury, and seek emergency care if necessary. Alert your supervisor or a nearby coworker and have them call 911 if you’re bleeding profusely or are in intense pain.
If your injuries are minor or nonurgent, the first order of business is to contact your supervisor. Don’t ignore this step. Your future medical bills and patient’s rights hinge on this formality.
In many cases, a verbal report of an injury may suffice, but don’t rely on it. Ask your employer for an injury report form. If they don;t have one, type up a report of your own, citing the date and time of the injury, how it happened, the injuries you sustained, and any witnesses that may have been nearby.
The next step is to seek a medical evaluation of your injury, but don’t assume you can go to your family doctor first. If you do, you may get excellent care, but you may have to pay the bill on your own.
Because this is a worker compensation situation, you need to ask your employer to contact their worker compensation insurance carrier, and they, in turn, will tell you which doctor to go see.
Often, they give you a list of qualified independent medical examiners in your area. If you live in or around Dubuque or Cedar Rapids, you may see Dr. Mathew’s name on that list.
While he is contracted by your employer and your employer’s insurance company, he’s also known for his integrity, compassion, and patient-focused care. You can trust him to complete your medical assessment fairly and report his findings accurately.
Make sure you disclose any preexisting conditions you may have had prior to your accident, as failure to do so may cause problems down the road if your case becomes a legal issue.
Iowa employers have the right to modify the job description or workload for injured employees, so if it’s offered to you, don’t turn it down. It may feel demeaning, but if you refuse it, you won’t be entitled to your regular wages.
If you’ve been given medical restrictions to follow, don’t ignore them — and don’t let your employer ignore them either. If your boss tells you to do something that your doctor told you not to, stand up for yourself and respectfully refuse. If you injure yourself again, it complicates your case.
Your initial accident report should be thorough and honest. Resist the urge to exaggerate, and always disclose full information about your prior health and outside activities.
Also, make sure to document any secondary conditions that arise from the primary injury. For instance, if you twisted your ankle at work, and later, the limp triggered hip or back pain, let your supervisor and your doctor know.
Above all, focus on healing. No amount of legal proceedings outweigh the importance of your long-term health.
If your company has designated an independent medical examiner other than Dr. Mathew, and you’re searching for a caring, expert physician to see you through non-work-related illnesses and injuries, we invite you to schedule an appointment with Dr. Mathew and find out if his patient-centered approach may be the right fit for you in the future.