What if I Get Hurt on the Job?
If you get hurt on the job you have the right, whether you are documented or not, to claim an insurance benefit called "Worker's Compensation." It pays your medical bills, compensates you for permanent disability, and pays up to 2/3 of wages lost because of the injury (with some exceptions). A doctor must determine that you were injured while at your job. All employers in Oregon must have worker's compensation insurance available for all employees.
What Should I Do to Get Help if I am Injured on the Job?
If you get injured on the job, you should tell your employer as soon as possible. The employer must then give you a form, called "form 801." S/he must send it in to the insurance company and you should keep a copy for yourself.
Go immediately to the doctor. IMPORTANT: Tell the doctor the injury happened at work, and give the name of your employer. By law the doctor must report the injury to the employer's insurance company.
The insurance has 30 days to accept or reject the claim. If they reject it and you want to appeal, contact a lawyer as soon as possible. In our offices we can give you the names of private lawyers who do these cases. By law a lawyer cannot charge you in these cases unless you win your case. The lawyer's fee is paid by the insurance company.
What if My Boss Pays the Medical Bill Immediately?
You should still report the injury to the employer's insurance company (on the form mentioned above). Your injury may keep bothering you for a long time, or get worse. That is why you should keep official documentation that you were injured at work. Sometimes your boss says s/he will pay your medical bills, but then doesn't, or pays for emergency services but not the rest of the necessary treatment. An official claim to the insurance company makes it much more likely that a worker will get all the benefits s/he qualifies for, in some cases for life.
The Important Role of the Doctor
Obviously the doctor is key in treating your injury, but in Worker's Compensation cases s/he is even more important than normal, because the insurance company will not cover you without a written report from the doctor. Also, if the doctor says that you are injured and need to rest for a few days or do easier jobs at work, the employer has to obey those instructions without discriminating against you. If it turns out that a worker is undocumented, s/he is not allowed to go back to work after becoming well again, BUT all workers have the right to receive payment for all medical bills related to an injury at work.
Worker's Compensation law is very complicated. For more information, or if your employer does not have or does not want to give you an "801 form," call the State Workers Compensation "Ombudsman" office in Spanish or English at 1-800-927-1271. You can also talk to a lawyer. The consultation is free in Workers Compensation cases.