What Happens After a Work Injury?
After over twenty-two years of practicing law in the worker's compensation field, there are questions which I am frequently asked. One of those questions is: “What happens after I'm hurt at work?”
The first answer is obvious: Get medical attention! If the injury is relatively minor, the injured worker usually obtains medical care from a clinic or possibly a hospital emergency room, is treated and released. If the injury is serious, the injured worker is usually admitted to the hospital by way of the emergency room for testing and potential surgery.
While in the process of getting medical care, the injured worker also must notify the employer. In South Dakota, the law specifies that the injured worker must notify the employer within three days. That's seventy-two short hours. If the injured worker does not notify the employer within three days, the injured worker's claim for worker's compensation benefits may be denied.
Notice of a worker's injury takes a couple forms. The first is verbal notice. It is what is sounds like - talking to, calling or emailing the boss. The other more preferred form of notice is written. It's when the worker fills out a “First Report of Injury”. The injured worker is advised to keep a copy.
So, the short answer to the question of “What happens after a work injury?” is to get medical care and report the injury (preferably in writing) within three days.