Dealing with a work injury can be overwhelming. You don’t have to solve everything all at once, but there are a few things you should do right away so that you are in a good position to get workers’ compensation benefits if you need them and to get back to work – and your life – as soon as possible.

One of the things that you should do right away is get medical treatment. If your work accident was serious, you likely had emergency care right away. If that wasn’t the case, then get to your doctor as soon as you realize that you have an injury that is related to your job. A delay here can impact many things down the road.

Seeing a doctor or receiving initial treatment for your injury is essential, but don’t stop there. Make sure your treatment continues. If it’s not working for you, or if there are delays, consider having a conversation with your doctor or even getting a second opinion.

There are two main reasons why it’s so important to be on top of your medical care. One is your health. Delays in treatment can cause an injury to worsen and even become permanent in cases where a full recovery could have been possible. The other reason is your workers’ compensation claim. If you are injured on the job, then workers’ compensation in Illinois pays you some of your lost wages while you recover. And all of your medical treatment should be covered 100%. These benefits are significant, and if you delay treatment, they could be at risk.

Workers’ compensation benefits are usually paid by your employer’s insurance company. The insurer’s ultimate goal is their own bottom line, not your health. So you have to look out for yourself. If they see an opportunity to deny your claim and refuse benefits, then they’ll take it. For example, if you wait six months to get treatment for a job injury, they can try to deny your claim by saying that your injury could have been caused by anything that happened in the last six months. If you had seen a doctor right away, there would have been documented evidence that you were hurt on a certain day and in a certain way.

After a work injury, you should notify your employer, see your doctor and file a claim for workers’ compensation benefits. Delaying these steps will work against you, and if your injury worsens, you’ll be in a particularly bad position. Talking to an Illinois workers’ compensation attorney can help, too. They should not charge you anything to go over your case and file a claim.

By Michael Helfand