8 Common Mistakes That Can Ruin Your Workers’ Compensation Claim
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The worker’s compensation program is a state-mandated insurance program, which provides wage replacement benefits, medical treatment, vocational rehabilitation and other benefits to eligible workers who were injured on the job. The federal government has its own worker’s compensation program for federal employees. However, the private sector worker’s compensation program is monitored on a state-by-state basis. Click here for the contact details of state workers’ compensation officials in your state.
Negotiating worker’s compensation claims can be complicated. In quite a few cases, you may have to fight for the compensation you deserve. Unfortunately, plenty of people make common mistakes that can ruin their claim. By recognizing and avoiding the eight rookie mistakes given below, you will be in a better position to get the compensation you deserve.
Not Getting Immediate Medical Treatment
Being serious about getting immediate medical treatment is the backbone of your worker’s comp claim. Generally, insurance companies assume that if you didn’t get medical attention immediately, you weren’t that hurt. In the case of emergency, ask your colleagues to take you to the emergency room or a walk-in clinic. In quite a few cases, instead of getting better your injuries may get worse. So, make sure not to miss follow-up appointments.
Not Documenting the Accident Details
Documenting the details of your accident is crucial for a successful claim. As more time passes after the accident, it gets harder to remember the exact details. It is important to remember what you were doing before the accident, at the time of the accident, and immediately after it occurred. If there were any witnesses, make sure to note down their names and contact information. You should also note down how the witnesses reacted and what they said after the accident. In short, you should note down any conversation and action that took place before, during and after the accident. All this information is vital for filing a worker’s compensation claim.
Failing to Keep Record of Injuries and Treatment
If possible, collect copies of every medical record including bills, prescriptions, MRI scans, test reports, X-rays and CT scans. Plus, you should maintain a record of all costs related to your injuries including lost wages, medical bills, and special services. Although you can ask your lawyer to collect and document all of this at a later date, doing it yourself will save time, money and energy. Besides, it will also reduce the chances of error.
Not Reporting the Accident to Your Employer
Reporting the accident to your employer as soon as possible is imperative to your claim. However, you shouldn’t report it verbally. Your boss can easily dispute any verbal communication. So, make sure to communicate with your employer via email, text or a recorded phone call. Keep your boss informed about the latest developments in your treatment and recovery. Don’t wait to file a report until it’s too late as it will make you look suspicious.
Not Hiring a Competent Worker’s Compensation Lawyer
You don’t need to hire a lawyer to settle most workers’ compensation claims involving minor injuries. However, complex injury claims require the expertise of an attorney. For the success of your claim, you should hire a competent lawyer specializing in worker’s compensation law. The state legislation monitors the worker’s compensation program in your state. Therefore, you should hire a lawyer who is familiar with the worker’s compensation laws in your state. For example, you will need to hire the best worker’s compensation lawyer in Chicago if you are filing a claim in Illinois. Make sure to hire a lawyer who has a proven track record of winning cases similar to yours.
Hiding Facts from Your Attorney
It’s your lawyer’s job to ensure that you get a fair settlement for your injury. For a successful settlement, you need to inform your lawyer of all the facts related to your case. It may sound surprising, but most adverse facts can be successfully handled. So, don’t hide any facts, whether good or bad, from your attorney. Don’t omit even the most trivial facts.
Not Consulting with Doctor of Your Choice
Contrary to popular belief, you are entitled to see a doctor of your choice. You can also consult any other doctor referred by your primary physician. In fact, you can get a second opinion if you are not satisfied with the independent medical examiner’s diagnosis. However, if you fail to follow your doctor’s treatment plan, your claim can be denied.
Chances are, your employer will refer you to an independent medical examiner (IME). However, in reality, the so-called independent examiner may not be that independent. He/she may deprecate your injuries to save your employer’s money. You should certainly speak with your lawyer before consulting an independent medical examiner. Discuss your injuries and the details of your accident with your doctor at length.
Not Cooperating with Vocational Rehabilitation Program
You are entitled to receive vocational rehabilitation benefits if your workplace injury leads to impairment. The vocational rehabilitation program will find a suitable job for you if your permanent disabilities restrict you from returning to your previous work. However, you shouldn’t consult the vocational rehabilitation counselor without consulting your attorney first.
It is in your best interest to accept a suitable job as early as possible. Remember, the worker’s compensation law doesn’t allow you to collect compensation benefits if you can work. If you keep rejecting suitable employment opportunities, the rehabilitation counselor can terminate your benefits. Therefore, it is in your best interest to cooperate with all reasonable vocational rehabilitation efforts.
The worker’s compensation program provides certain benefits to workers injured as a direct result of their job. These benefits include medical treatment, lost wages, and vocational rehabilitation program. The complexity of the worker’s compensation law leaves you at the risk of making simple mistakes, which may result in the denial of your claim. Avoiding these common mistakes will certainly help you to get the compensation you deserve.
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