With hundreds of federal agencies and thousands of different jobs ranging from clerical to law enforcement, injured federal workers come in all types. Regardless of how a federal employee has become injured, almost all federal work injuries will fall under the Federal Employees Compensation Act or FECA. There are relatively few federal disability attorneys as compared to other areas of law and it is essential that an injured federal worker, whether they are a postal worker, air traffic controller, federal law enforcement agent or veteran’s administration nurse, properly document each injury that the injured federal worker suffers as soon as possible after it occurs.
It is vital that an injured federal worker obtain witness statements whenever possible. Though the FECA is designed to give great weight to the statement of an injured federal employee, it is nonetheless advisable to obtain a statement from a witness to corroborate that an event occurred as alleged as soon as possible. In claims for stress or depression that an federal worker brings on the basis of a specific event that occurred at work, without such corroborating evidence, a claim will be very difficult to establish. Even a competent federal disability attorney will have a difficult time obtaining approval of an emotional claim without corroborating witnesses to the triggering event. That is not to say it is impossible, but if a witness statement can be obtained, it is very valuable.
It is very important for injured federal workers to be examined by a physician (not a chiropractor or physician’s assistant as neither are considered physicians under FECA) as soon after the injury occurs as possible. Many injured federal workers wait weeks or even months before seeking treatment or even reporting the injury to his or her supervisor. A delay in reporting the injury or in seeking treatment can create doubt in the minds of the Office of Workers’ Compensation Programs (OWCP) as to whether an injury is related to work if treatment is not sought promptly.
In summary, after suffering an injury in the federal workplace, an injured worker should attempt to obtain witness statements, promptly notify his or her supervisor that the injury occurred, and seek treatment for the injury as soon as possible. Doing so will greatly increase an injured federal worker’s chances of success. As most FECA cases do not come to a federal disability attorney until after they have been denied at least once by OWCP, taking these steps will greatly assist your federal disability lawyer in helping you successfully receive the medical treatment and financial compensation you are entitled to as a result of your federal workplace injury. – DMG 4/19/2003