A carelessly prepared workers’ compensation claim sabotages a streamlined system designed to concurrently compensate employees for medical expenses and lost wages in the wake of an on-the-job injury and defend employers against crippling damage awards and liability. A governing body thoroughly reviews every claim submitted, and most are swiftly approved and executed with few hang-ups. However, countless rejected claims bar ailing workers from vital assistance each year.
One all-important decision could nip these common claim mistakes in the bud before any of them has a chance to hold back the aid you need: seek out not one but several qualified, experienced workers’ compensation lawyers before signing or otherwise committing to any course of action. The right legal professional will explain your rights, key steps to protect them and what you can expect from the litigation process in language any working adult can easily understand. On the other hand, acting on your own may cost you the case and either limit or negate the benefits and medical care to which you would otherwise be entitled.
Report any injury immediately and share the experience with co-workers and supervisors, no matter how superficially embarrassing. Meanwhile, take ample notes to ensure a murky memory or stressful moments immediately following an injury won’t swallow vital details. After all, standard procedure will likely have you recounting the incident repeatedly, and when it comes to a calamity without eyewitnesses, no injured employee wants to find out that a tree falling in the forest with no one around to hear it doesn’t make as much of a memorable sound as expected.
Time is not on your side. Every state abides by a limited window for filing a workers’ compensation claim. If you wait longer than 30 to 45 days after the injury or illness to begin the process, you could forfeit your right to any aid whatsoever. Making matters even more challenging, employees who file after being terminated from or voluntarily leaving a job often come across delays in receiving approved benefits. If your capacity to work is compromised to any degree, contact a trusted workers’ compensation lawyer to initiate a claim before the calendar works against your circumstances.
Medical Record Discrepancies
Medical care providers grant insurers broad access to medical records in the exact interest of heading off fraudulent claims. If you seek compensation after an on-the-job injury or illness, expect your workers’ compensation claim to meet the teeth of a fine-toothed comb. In order to receive assistance, your injuries must match your employer’s account of the incident. Any uncomfortable differences between your story and theirs will likely raise suspicions and increase the odds of your claim being denied. As opposed to settling for a verbal incident report, settle for nothing less than written documentation your compromised health. Think of integrity in recordkeeping as one more reason to seek treatment as soon as feasibly possible.
Delayed Medical Care
Let’s repeat that: in the interest of your workers’ compensation claim, do not postpone medical care. The longer you wait, the more likely an insurance company tasked with paying your benefits will regard your injuries with skepticism. That is often all the leeway an insurer needs to either mitigate or deny a claim’s value. Remember, keeping abreast of adequate medical care includes attending all physical therapy and follow-up exam appointments.
An Inconsistent Story
Finally, the most damning error with which any workers’ compensation claim can be saddled: unreliable narration. Insurers will often look for any inconsistency they can find to challenge a claim’s veracity. Be as honest and specific as humanly possible at every turn. It might sound extreme at first, but insurance companies often retain private investigators to keep an eye on claimants and quietly collect evidence that employees may have exaggerated their injuries. Internalize every detail and leave dismiss nothing as insignificant.
Inability to earn a living can quickly become indescribably stressful. Strangely, that’s why many employees hesitate to file workers’ compensation claims: fear of either employer reprisal or rejection. Face that fear. You have rights in place to protect your future interests in the event of a work-related injury or illness, but the process hinge’s significantly on your own timely cooperation, due diligence and attention to excruciating detail.