An injured employee is responsible for reporting a job-related injury to his or her employer and for filing to obtain workers’ compensation. It is often a complicated process, and several things can go wrong and leave an injured worker with benefits that are either too low or denied outright.
Here are nine common mistakes to avoid if you have a workers’ compensation claim:
1. Not hiring an experienced workers’ compensation lawyer.
You will benefit from the help of a workers’ compensation lawyer, even if it’s just that obtaining benefits will be so much easier on you. In many cases, you’ll receive a better benefit settlement if you are represented.
There’s no charge for an initial consultation with a Ginarte Law Firm attorney. We offer free legal advice about your workers’ comp case. Even if you hire us, we won’t charge anything until you obtain a settlement, and that’s after we take care of the headaches of the benefits application process for you and represent you in any appeals that may be necessary.
2. Not reporting your accident.
Reporting your injury to your employer in writing as soon as possible is crucial in a workers’ compensation claim. Make sure you follow your employer’s policies for reporting and responding to worksite accidents. If there is no policy, write a factual report about your injury and how it happened. Give it to your supervisor, your company’s human resources department and the company nurse or healthcare provider.
3. Failing to submit an accurate and timely claim.
Workers’ compensation claims begin by filing a form that must be complete and accurate. It must also be submitted within a prescribed amount of time after the injury occurs. A late form may keep you from receiving benefits. An incomplete or inaccurate form may lead to a denial that delays benefits, even if an appeal is ultimately successful.
One of the services the Ginarte Law Firm can provide is working to make sure your benefits claim is complete and on time.
4. Not fully explaining your injury to healthcare providers.
Workers’ compensation benefits will be based on your medical records, as well as the accident report made at your jobsite. If a dispute arises, medical providers will be considered impartial, and their records will carry important weight.
Let any doctor you see – particularly the insurance company’s doctor – know everything about your accident and injury and how it has affected your life. This is not the time to appear tough.
5. Not following doctor’s orders.
Workers’ compensation benefits are meant to assist injured workers as they recover. If you are seen as standing in the way of your own recovery, your benefits may be denied or discontinued.
It is very important to keep all doctors’ appointments and follow your doctor’s recommendations for medical treatment and therapy. If you disagree with the doctor’s orders (or your own physician disagrees), there are steps that an attorney from the Ginarte Law Firm can help you take. In the meantime, do what the doctor of record on your claim tells you to do.
6. Failing to request a second opinion.
Injured workers must see the doctors their employers direct them to, but you should also see your own doctor if you have one.
Your doctor knows you and your medical background. If your employer’s doctor says you can return to work before you have fully recovered, your doctor may believe otherwise. If your doctor’s opinion is part of the record, you have a better chance of success with an appeal to have your benefits continued.
7. Returning to work too soon.
Paying workers’ comp benefits costs the insurance company money. As a way to cut their costs, insurers may pressure employers to find some type of work that an injured employee can do. Even the take-home pay from a lesser position can defray a portion of the insurer’s costs.
You should request a job description and have your doctors (the one assigned by the employer and your own) review it to ensure that you are capable of performing the work at this stage of your recovery. You don’t have to accept any job duties the doctor of record on your case does not approve. And you may file an appeal if your doctor disagrees with the insurance company’s doctor.
8. Not seeking work.
On the other hand, if have recovered to the point that you are capable of working, you should seek appropriate work. If you have a partial disability, you are obligated to look for and accept work you can do.
As your recovery progresses, you should contact your employer to see whether you can return to work. Let your employer know if you need any changes or accommodations to do your job. Ask if there is a temporary assignment available if you are not ready to assume your normal job duties.
If your wages are reduced because your disability forces you into a lower-paying position, you may be eligible for a reduced-earnings benefit.
9. Settling for the wrong disability rating.
When the doctor assigned to your case decides you have recovered as well as can be expected, you’ll be assigned a permanent partial disability rating. This rating determines the amount of your final workers’ compensation settlement.
You should not agree to this rating unless you have returned to work at the same level of pay as you earned before you were injured. This is a decision you can appeal. Having an experienced workers’ compensation attorney by your side may greatly improve the odds that such an appeal will be successful.
Contact a Ginarte Law Firm Workers’ Compensation Lawyer
Don’t give up the benefits you deserve. Call us now or contact us through our online form for a free consultation.