Millions of workers suffer on-the-job injuries every year. Although Virginia, Washington, D.C. and Maryland all mandate workers compensation benefits, many employees also benefit from the protection offered by labor unions.
Although unions offer invaluable resources to workers, it is essential that you know how to use these resources to protect your legal rights when claiming an injury.
To use your union benefits to the best of their ability, there are several important steps to take after suffering a workplace injury.
The first and foremost step is to seek immediate medical attention if necessary. This must take priority over anything the employer may require of you after the accident, including taking a drug test.
Some employers may try to force an injured worker to fill out paperwork, see a company physician or undergo complex procedures before treating any injuries. When they hear of a union member sustaining injuries, the union rep or steward will most likely have intervened on behalf of the employee to prevent these obstacles from occurring.
Your steward should also work with you to ensure that you file an accident report with your employer as soon as possible. Injured workers should do this regardless of whether or not any serious injuries occurred. This report will be essential in the event that you file for workers compensation benefits. It is possible that your workers comp claim will receive a denial unless you provide a written notification of your injuries to your employer or supervisor.
After receiving medical treatment for your injuries, contact your union representative or steward to begin the grievance process. There may be a very specific procedure to begin after suffering a workplace injury, and it is essential that it is performed correctly.
Although some unions may have their own legal counsel, it may be necessary to speak with an attorney who is experienced in handling workers compensation claims in your particular city or state. It is also possible that the union’s attorney will not have the resources, experience or time necessary to handle your claim quickly and diligently.
Legal representation is essential when you are attempting to claim workers compensation benefits. Our firm has a long history of supporting workers and unions, including the Metropolitan Washington Council AFL-CIO. For a free consultation with a Washington, D.C., Virginia and Maryland injury attorney, call our local District of Columbia office at (202) 659-5500 or contact us online.