Break your finger at work or otherwise injure yourself and your employer's workers' compensation insurance will provide you with medical and other benefits. Workers' compensation will also pay you a percentage of your weekly salary if your injury forces you to miss more than seven days of work. If you die, workers' compensation will provide death benefits to your dependents. To receive benefits, you have to follow certain steps before and after filing your claim.
Federal laws require employers in every state except for Texas to carry workers’ compensation insurance. Workers’ compensation covers you even if you are at fault for hurting yourself. Along with covering medical expenses, workers’ compensation will cover lost wages as a result of missing work. Most states require you to miss a certain number of days before you are eligible for this benefit. Workers' compensation will also provide you with benefits if your injury results in a permanent disability. The amount of your benefit depends on the disability. For example, if breaking your finger leads to its amputation, then workers' compensation will pay you a weekly benefit, even if you return to work. If your injury makes returning to work impossible, then workers' compensation will pay you a weekly benefit for an initial 450 weeks. Benefits continue if you remain unable to return to work after this time period. By accepting workers’ compensation benefits, you agree not to sue your employer for pain, suffering and other damages. Even if you accept workers’ compensation, you do not waive your right to sue if your employer intentionally harmed you.
Report the Injury
Before you can file a claim for workers’ compensation benefits, you must tell your supervisor, employer or other person who holds a position of authority where you work about your broken finger. If you go to the emergency room or other health care provider immediately after the accident, let your supervisor or employer know about the injury as soon as you can. You will not receive workers’ compensation benefits if you don’t report the injury.
Let Your Doctors Know
Tell every doctor and other health care provider who treats you that you broke your finger while at work. These health care providers will document your story and the injury. If you don’t disclose the how, where, and what of the event, you may deemed ineligible for workers’ compensation benefits or have your benefits initially denied.
Document Medical Treatment and Injury
You should keep a written record of everything that occurred to cause your injury and the resulting steps you took. This documentation should include dates, people involved and resulting action you took. For example, when describing what you were doing when you broke your finger, include the names of any people who were there and the date of the accident. When describing advice that your doctor gave you, include the name of the doctor, the date of treatment and location of treatment. You should also take pictures of your broken injury and continue to photograph it as it heals.
File a Claim
Laws about where to file your workers' compensation claim vary by state. For example, Washington lets you file a workers' compensation claim in the treating hospital, while California requires you to submit a claim through your employer. Be honest when filling out your portion of the claim. If you lie, you may invalidate your claim.
Exercise Extreme Caution
Your employer or insurance company may offer you advice about treating your broken finger or returning to work. Certain states even let your employer or insurance company decide where you can get treatment. Keep in mind that your employer and insurance company want to minimize their debt as a result of your injury. You may want to talk to a workers’ compensation attorney to find out how to maximize your benefits.
- Worker’s Compensation Law Offices Milwaukee, South Carolina: First Steps After an Injury
- USWorkersComp.com: Five Steps to Take in Your Workers Compensation Claim
- U.S. Department of Labor: Division of Federal Employees’ Compensation
- Washington State Department of Labor and Industries: Injured? What You Need To Know
- California Department of Industrial Relations: How to File a Workers’ Compensation Claim Form
- State of California Department of Industrial Relations: Workers' Compensation Benefits
William Henderson has been writing for newspapers, magazines and journals for more than 15 years. He served as editor of the "New England Blade" and is a former contributor to "The Advocate." His work has also appeared on The Good Men Project, Life By Me and The Huffington Post.