Aug 17th, 2018
It’s understandable- You’ve had an accident and think you can take care of it on your own. But when it comes to sustaining a work-related injury, you shouldn’t take care of it on your own. Around every corner your employer’s insurance company is handling your case and ready to stop treatment or even drop your claim if you make a wrong move. If you have a work injury and are trying to get compensation, avoid these eight common mistakes.
In your state of shock following your work-related injury, you might feel you’re okay and shrug off a trip to the hospital, or you think it’s a minor injury and you don’t go see a doctor. If you’ve sustained any injury, you need to be seen by a physician ASAP. Your doctor can document your injury, symptoms and treatment plan, which will make it easier to be awarded just compensation. Establishing care for your work-related injury lies the foundation of your workers’ comp case. The law says you have to have an accident and that accident has to lead to injury. Determining if there is actual injury to your body is the job of the doctors.
You don’t think the extent of your injury will warrant more than your health insurance will give you, and you do not think you have a right to any compensation, so you don’t inform your employer of the injury at all. BE CAREFUL treating on your own. If you walk into your primary care doctor’s office and say you got hurt at work, your private health insurance company likely won’t cover it. You cannot get workers’ comp benefits without reporting your injury to your employer. You need to inform your employer of injury and symptoms in writing as soon as possible. You must report it within 30 days, but immediately afterward is best.
You might forget a small detail about how you got hurt, who witnessed it, when it happened, what time of day. The insurance company may try to construe this as deceitful. Falsifying the extent of your work injury will discredit your whole worker’s comp case. Every last detail from your statements to your physician and employer needs to be as accurate as possible. Insurance companies will find any minor discrepancy and use it against you.
No matter how long you’ve worked for your company or how much you’re a treasured employee, your employer does NOT want to spend money on you. Your employer’s insurance company, like all insurance companies, want to pay as little as possible for the claim. Every scan, day of missed work and hospital visit means your employer loses money. Neither your employer, nor its insurance company are looking out for your best interest.
After your work-related injury, you may be sore and tired. Don’t let your fatigue and pain get in the way of staying on top of things. Document every detail you can remember what was happening right before your accident, during the accident, and immediately following the accident. Document what your employer and first responders said to you. Keep a list of all your symptoms, the nature of them, and how long they persist. Request copies from each of your doctor’s appointments and results from each scan you take, such as X-rays and MRIs. When it comes time to provide documentation to your attorney, doctor, employer and the insurance company, the details will still be fresh in your memory. Having an experienced workers’ compensation attorney will allow you to leave the organizing to her.
This is an old insurance company trick. It’s likely a representative of the insurance company will say that they cannot proceed with the case until you supply a recorded statement or sign a medical authorization. The problem with this is that they may try to collect all of your past medical records, even those having nothing to do with the body part you injured. The adjuster may use your release to get all records from your PCP, or even from a mental health provider. Your attorney can protect your privacy and guide you through releasing only pertinent records.
As best you can, follow your doctor’s orders verbatim. Working beyond your doctor’s restrictions and treatment plan not only puts your healing in jeopardy, but the insurance company can also invalidate your claim if you do. Insurance companies might also hire an investigator to conduct surveillance or search through your social media profiles for photos and whereabouts looking for anything that can discredit your claim. If you fail to make your appointments or return to work when your doctor clears you to do so, the insurance company will claim you are healthy but just don’t want to work.
Hiring a qualified, experienced workers’ comp attorney is imperative in making sure you get the medical help and appropriate compensation for your injury. Insurance companies will have a team of insurance adjusters, private investigators and nurse case managers who will work to discard your claim.
You need an attorney who will advocate for you and guide you through the tumultuous process of dealing with insurance companies and your employer. I have been practicing workers compensation law for 12 years and have successfully settled or won at trial hundreds of workers’ comp cases similar to yours. I will not let you make the aforementioned mistakes and discredit your claim. Above all, I will always keep your best interest in mind and your health my top priority.
– Christine Kiefer, lawyer, Kiefer Law Office LLC.