Whiplash injuries most commonly happen in automobile accidents–especially rear-end collisions–and sports-related incidents. But, any force that causes the head to snap forcefully back and forth can cause whiplash. That includes work-related settings. And, of course, motor vehicle accidents often happen in the course of employment.
If you’ve suffered a whiplash injury on the job, the path to compensation is typically a workers’ compensation claim. But, pursuing workers’ compensation for whiplash can be tricky. That’s because it can be difficult to determine how serious a whiplash injury is, what limitations it may create, and how long those limitations are expected to last.
Unfortunately, for many people who suffer whiplash injuries, that means the workers’ compensation carrier will try to minimize the problem and the benefits associated with the injury. That’s especially problematic because whiplash injuries can limit the employee’s ability to return to work, and may require accommodations or even a change in responsibilities.
You can’t afford to take advice from your employer or the workers’ compensation carrier. Your employer likely doesn’t have the medical or legal expertise to provide complete and accurate information. And, both your employer and the insurance carrier have an incentive to keep costs down and get you back to work.
First, make sure you report the injury to your employer as soon as possible.
Once you’ve reported the injury, the ball is in your employer’s court–it’s the company’s responsibility to initiate the claim with the workers’ compensation carrier. Most of the time, that happens, but keep an eye on the process and follow up if your claim doesn’t seem to be moving forward. Some workers’ compensation claimants encounter unjustified delays. That’s obviously a serious problem when you’re waiting for benefits that will cover your medical care and help keep a roof over your head and food on the table while you recover from an injury.
What happens next depends in part on how seriously you were injured and your prospects for returning to work. Workers’ compensation provides a variety of types of compensation, depending on the specifics of your situation.
For instance, an injured worker who is currently unable to work but is expected to be able to return will typically receive medical care and temporary disability benefits.
If the worker is able to work in a less demanding role or work part-time, the employer may offer an alternative assignment or one with reduced hours or responsibilities. In that case, partial benefits are typically available to help make up the income lost due to the limitations.
But, permanent disability is handled differently. Of course, it’s unlikely that an employee would be faced with permanent total disability due to a whiplash injury. But, often injuries occur in combination. For example, a worker who has been hit in the head by a piece of equipment may well suffer a whiplash injury when his or her head snaps back. But, that same incident may have resulted in a traumatic brain injury or other serious injury.
Permanent disability claims are usually settled with a lump sum payment, but not until the treating physician says that the worker has reached the maximum level of recovery expected.
It’s generally a good idea to consult an experienced workers’ compensation attorney if your injury is serious or long-term. Since the workers’ compensation carrier has an incentive to pay out as little as possible, you can’t count on being treated fairly.
Here are some other situations you may encounter along the way that may signal the time is right to get some help:
Let Attorney Kevin Broderick answer your questions and evaluate your personal injury or vehicle accident case for free!
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