A construction accident usually results in an injured worker needing time away from the job or a restricted workload. Of the 4,200 injury cases in the industry in 2018, just under half led to days away from work, while about 900 led to job restrictions or a transfer.

The choices made in the aftermath of a construction site accident are crucial. An injured worker often has the opportunity to secure workers’ compensation benefits, helping them stay afloat during this difficult time. But the process is not automatic. One mistake, even a small one, could result in lost benefits. Here are four steps to follow after a construction worksite injury.

1. Get medical treatment

Your health and safety are the priorities. If you suffered a serious injury that needs urgent attention, get emergency medical care immediately. In these situations, there are generally no restrictions on which doctors may provide initial treatment.

If it is not an emergency situation, your employer should provide a list of at least three physicians. You can select any doctor from this list, and they will be your physician for medical treatment related to the work injury.

2. Tell your employer

Notify your employer about the incident and your injury as soon as realistically possible. You have up to 30 days from the date of the injury to do so, but the sooner you alert your employer, the better. Failing to tell them within this 30-day period can result in lost workers’ compensation benefits.

3. Gather evidence and record the facts

Some employers and their insurance may try to limit their financial obligations by disputing a workers’ compensation claim. It is important to have facts and information on-hand to ensure the truth remains clear. This means:

  • Getting the contact information of people who saw what happened
  • Taking photos of the scene
  • Requesting and saving all related medical and job records
  • Writing a detailed account of what happened

You will want to highlight any potential issues in the lead-up to the accident. For example, had your employer brushed off certain training requirements? Had you or a colleague notified the employer of issues with equipment? Were there clear safety risks being ignored that day? This type of evidence can be invaluable in a workers’ compensation case.

4. Follow the directed medical treatment

When seeking care for a work injury, it’s important you follow through. Show up to all of your appointments and do the recommended treatments. If you are cleared to do lighter, restricted work, try to do so. If you believe the treating physician is insufficient or you have a problem with the recommendations, you cannot switch doctors independently. You must get approval from your employer or carrier, or go through a hearing process.