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What to do after a work-related injury leaves you disabled

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Note: Carla’s story is a fictional scenario presented to illustrate the process of seeking compensation for a work-related injury that resulted in disability.


If you are disabled due to a work-related injury, you may be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits. You may even have enough evidence to sue a responsible party for personal injury. 

It is wise to consider enlisting the help of a lawyer to represent you in your workers’ compensation claim and/or represent you in a personal injury lawsuit. 

In this article, we will walk you through the process of what to do once injured.

Step One: Seek medical attention

Receiving proper medical care is essential. Before worrying about the cost or whether or not insurance will cover it, seeking treatment for an injury comes first, especially if it is severe enough to leave you disabled. 

The EMTALA law (Emergency Medical Treatment And Labor Act) is a federal statute that asserts that injured parties are entitled to medical treatment regardless of their ability to pay. 

If you walk into an emergency room, the triage nurse will assess the acuity of your injury and respond however necessary before registration to ask for your insurance information. This ensures that patients get proper care regardless of their financial situation.

Step Two: Report the injury to your employer

Notify your employer as soon as possible. Most companies have procedures to follow in case of a work-related injury. A Form 2 should be filled out to report the injury. There is a statute of limitations on reporting incidents and filing claims, so be sure to do so in a timely manner. 

For example, in some states, employees may be required to report the incident within 30 days of the injury and file a workers’ compensation claim within two years of the injury. 

Step Three: Understand your rights

Be aware of the workers’ compensation laws in your area. They may vary depending on the jurisdiction, but they typically provide benefits for disability. 

A lawyer, like the Law Offices of Craig L. Cook, can help you understand your rights.

Step Four: File a workers’ compensation claim

Work with your employer to file a workers’ compensation claim. This process typically involves completing paperwork, such as a Form 3, and providing documentation of the injury and treatment. 

Everyone’s claim looks different depending on the injury, medical bills incurred, and the impact it has on your job. Disability is considered a severe work-related injury, so filing a workers’ compensation claim is advisable. 

Step Five: Consider getting a lawyer

A lawyer can help you complete all requirements for filing a workers’ compensation claim within the allowed window of time. 

It is also good to speak with an attorney if:

  • you have questions about your claim
  • the case is complicated
  • you need help assessing your evidence to prove the disability is work-related
  • your claim is denied by your employer
  • your benefits aren’t paid on time or in full
  • your job performance is affected by your work-related injury
  • your case involves Social Security benefits (a legal counsel can write the settlement agreement in a way that ensures your workers’ compensation benefits don’t lower your Social Security disability payments)
  • your employer takes unfair action against you for filing a claim, such as reducing your hours/pay rate/the position you hold at the company
  • you want to sue outside of workers’ compensation because your employer or a third party contributed to your injury/illness, doesn’t hold the insurance (if required), or there was negligent behavior that harmed you

If you pursue a personal injury case, you will need a lawyer to represent you, draft a demand letter, and file a lawsuit.

Step Six: Explore disability benefit

Types of disabilities include temporary total disability (TTD), permanent total disability (PTD), and permanent partial disability (PPD). 

The following are types of workers’ compensation benefits you could receive for an injury that resulted in disability:

  • Lost wages
  • Medical expenses
  • TTD benefits
  • PTD benefits
  • PPD benefits

Employees may also choose to sue for personal injury, which includes a type of compensation workers’ compensation claims do not: 

  • pain and suffering

In a personal injury lawsuit, the person who suffered an injury to the body, mind, or emotions is suing the responsible party for the abuse or neglect that caused their injury. 

This is a civil lawsuit where the victim seeks compensation for physical or psychological damages. A workers’ compensation claim can be filed regardless of fault, whereas personal injury is a civil case intended to seek compensation from the responsible party. 

Not every injured employee may file a third-party civil law suit against their employer, this is specific to exceptions made out in the law. A lawyer, like the ones at the Law Offices of Craig L. Cook can help you make the determination of whether or not you are eligible to sue in circuit court

Both a personal injury lawsuit and workers’ compensation claim can be pursued for the same injury. A lawyer can help you determine if both are applicable and if not, which to pursue. You can learn more here about the difference between the two.

Step Seven: Seek rehabilitation services

Medical professionals, combined with rehabilitation specialists, can help you manage your disability and improve your daily life. They may recommend physical therapy, occupational therapy, or vocational training. 

Vocational training is a vocational rehabilitation service intended to teach people the knowledge, skills, and competencies needed for a certain profession. 

If your disability prevents you from returning to your previous job, vocational rehab services can help you re-evaluate career options and find accommodating employment. 

Step Eight: Focus on self-care

Self-care can come in many forms. Finding friends, family, and support groups to assist you in the emotional challenges of navigating a disability can be helpful. 

It is also important to prioritize activities that promote your well-being and make you feel hopeful about the future. The best coping strategy for any limitation is to focus on what you do have and what you can do.

Carla’s Story

Carla worked at a power plant where she suffered a blast injury, leaving her with a permanent partial disability. Because she is an employee at the power plant, she filed a workers’ compensation claim to receive benefits for lost wages, medical attention, and PPD. 

She is also suing the person responsible for safety inspections because the blast injury was caused by faulty equipment. Carla is now living with a traumatic brain injury, which will partially disable her for the rest of her life. 

She obtains a lawyer to represent her in the personal injury case and navigate the workers’ compensation claim.


If you suffered a job-related injury, The Law Offices of Craig L. Cook is here to help. Our attorneys help clients in both personal injury and workers’ compensation cases get the disability benefits they deserve. 

Even if you are unsure whether or not you need a lawyer, you can book a free consultation with us to determine your next best course of action. We are here for you every step of the way!