The most important tips to remember when starting a worker’s compensation claim
When you are injured while on the job, it can be a stressful experience to understand what may happen next. Without being able to work, your mind may focus on the practical next steps after a work injury. You may wonder how your bills will get paid or how much work you might have to miss. The added financial stress associated with being hospitalized is often more concerning to victims than their own health.
Tip 1- IMMEDIATELY report your injury. Not tomorrow, not later, but now. The quicker you start a paper trail documenting the injury, the better chances you have of showing it as a serious injury worthy of serious medical attention. There are also strict filing deadlines to remember. Consult a legal professional for more information.
Tip 2 – Get Medical Attention. Again, the point here is to document your injury and the opinion of a qualified medical professional. This helps prove the scope of the injury with official medical records.
Tip 3 – Consider changing Doctors – In some states, you must be treated by a doctor chosen by the insurance company. This is fine, but, it’s important to seek a 2nd opinion from a neutral 3rd party (AKA – your own doctor). The basic fact that the doctor is working for the insurance company presents a conflict of interest and may hurt your chances of filing an acceptable claim.
Tip 4 – Understand your options – This is a great time to make your first contact with a legal professional. You want someone working for YOU, not your employer or your employer’s insurance company. Depending on your individual circumstances, you may have options, including temporary and permanent disability, medical treatment, vocational rehabilitation & mileage compensation for medical visit travel.
Tip 5 – Be prepared for Independent Medical Exams
Independent Medical Exams (IME) do not focus on treating your injury. These exams are often required by the insurance company using a doctor they hire to issue a report on your medical records, and the relationship between your injury and the type of work you do. Many times, IMEs are scheduled when the insurance company wants to reduce or terminate your benefits, so it’s important to prepare by reviewing your medical records.
Tip 6 – Beware of private investigators. Even in cases where the injury claim is relatively straightforward, the insurance company may hire a private investigator to make sure you are actually injured. For example, if a PI gains footage of you lifting a package off your porch when your doctor tells you not to lift anything over 5 pounds, it can be used against your claim. There is much to dispute there (how much did the package weigh? Did you double over in pain afterward?) If you think you are under surveillance, it is in your best interest to speak with an attorney immediately.
Tip 7 – Keep detailed records of everything. Every doctor visit, every phone call made, including letters from your employer, accident reports & work restriction slips.
Tip 8 – Consider appealing denied claims. Insurance companies are for-profit businesses, meaning their goal is to make a profit. Claim denial is the main way they keep their costs low enough to make money, and they do it effectively. However, it’s not always the end of the process, as an appeal can indicate the seriousness of the issue. Many times, denied claims that go through appeal end up receiving at least some worker’s comp benefits.
Tip 9 – Attend all scheduled proceedings. Absence from such a meeting means risking an immediate loss of your benefits. Your workers’ comp attorney can attend in your place in many cases, but for some legal proceedings, you will be required to be there in person (such as the deposition or IME).
Tip 10 – Consider hiring an experienced workers’ comp attorney. You may not need to seek out legal advice if your claim is relatively simple, but you may way if the insurance company reduces or denies your claim, makes a low settlement offer, or ignores your claim or requests for information.
For more information on our workers' compensation services, please call our office to schedule an appointment with one of our attorneys today!