The Top Workers’ Compensation Claim Mistakes – And How to Avoid Them
Accidents on the job happen, and it’s important to be prepared if one happens to you. Some jobs are more dangerous than others— whether you’re an air traffic controller, a paramedic, or a construction worker, you’ll almost always need to fill out a workers’ compensation claim after you’ve been injured on the job.
Because many workplace injuries can cause chronic complications throughout one’s life, it’s vital to ensure that you receive adequate compensation from your workers’ compensation claim. Many accident victims make several common mistakes after being injured on the job, so let’s review some of the most prominent examples to get the most out of your workers’ comp claim.
Failing to Document the Details of Your Accident
A workplace accident can be extremely upsetting, and you may find it challenging to know what steps to take immediately following one. The most important thing to remember is to collect as much evidence as possible. This includes recording or writing down your version of the events as soon as possible. Details can fade over time, so documenting your memories and those of anyone else involved immediately after the accident will keep you from missing any important information.
Filing a formal accident report as soon after the accident as possible is also imperative to your case. This report should always be written down by your employer, as verbal descriptions can easily be disputed. Be sure to communicate any additional updates about your condition with your employer, ideally through a written notice like email or text message that can be documented if necessary.
Not Seeking Medical Treatment
Of course, seeking medical attention, if necessary, is the first and foremost priority. Regardless of the extent of your injury, it’s crucial to seek medical treatment for any wounds you sustained and to carefully collect any medical documents throughout your treatments.
Additionally, you should also document any lost wages from work because of your injury, along with travel costs to doctor’s appointments and any follow-up care you paid for after your initial visit.
Not Disclosing Prior Medical Conditions to your Doctor
Being honest with your doctor about any past medical ailments or chronic conditions is vital to the success of your claim. Be sure to detail your workplace injury and explain any past injuries or ailments. The more detailed and accurate your description of your current injury is to your doctor, the less likely the defense is to question the validity of your medical claims.
Exaggerating Your Injuries
No matter the strength of your workers’ compensation claim, falsifying or exaggerating your injuries will always work against your case. Doctors will perform several tests on you and carefully document your injuries, so fully expect any conflicting self-reported symptoms to be noted in your medical paperwork.
Many doctors will even make a note in your file with the term “malingerer,” which means they believe you are faking or falsifying the extent of your injuries. This will affect your overall case, or worse yet, get it completely dismissed.
Not Following Your Doctor’s Advice
It’s incredibly important to listen and abide by your doctor’s instructions. Any actions you take in opposition to your doctor’s advice, especially activities that may worsen your injuries, will diminish the strength of your claim. Even though your injuries may feel better, and you may feel capable of returning to work, doing so against your doctor’s instructions may make you susceptible to interrupting your body’s healing process. If these actions result in further or chronic injury, then it’s implausible that your workers’ compensation claim will cover the costs of future medical treatments caused by your actions.
Not Hiring a Workers’ Compensation Lawyer Early Enough
Everything you say and do from the time of your accident to when you file your claim matters. Negotiating with insurance adjusters can also prove tricky, as many seek to protect their agency’s bottom line by offering you as little as possible for your claim. That’s why seeking a legal expert with experience handling workers’ compensation claims is essential.
A skilled lawyer will ensure that your interests are protected throughout your case and that you don’t say or do anything to jeopardize your settlement amount. Furthermore, a good lawyer will fight for your case so that you receive the maximum settlement you deserve.
Being Dishonest with Your Attorney
Hiding information or being dishonest with your attorney can increase the odds that your case will not receive a fair settlement. It’s your attorney’s job to understand the full extent of the facts surrounding your claim, and many adverse facts can be successfully managed by your lawyer, even if you feel embarrassed or ashamed to admit to some of them. Don’t withhold information from the one person who has your back, regardless.
Refusing to Receive Vocational Rehabilitation Benefits
If your injury leads to impairment, you can benefit from a vocational rehabilitation program. These programs are designed to help those with disabilities to find suitable work options. However, if you do not accept viable job opportunities, the vocational rehabilitation program can revoke any benefits they provide. Regardless of your situation, always remember to consult with your attorney before accepting any work disability programs, as they can evaluate what options are best for the course of your claim.
Workers’ compensation programs are designed to provide compensation for employees who have been injured on the job, including benefits such as medical treatment, compensation for lost wages, and vocational rehabilitation opportunities. However, these programs are not always designed to provide workers with a fair compensation rate, so it’s in your best interest to hire an attorney to ensure you reap the maximum compensation possible for your injuries.
Without a skilled attorney to represent your case, it’s easy to make simple mistakes that can reduce your compensation or, even worse, result in the flat-out denial of your claim. By avoiding the above mistakes and seeking proper legal counsel, you can ensure your case gets the best chance it deserves.