5 Tips to Help You Get the Most Out of Your Workers’ Compensation Claim
When you’re injured at work, your life quickly becomes a lot more complicated. Workers’ compensation benefits are designed to help you make ends meet while you recover, but if you’re not careful during the claims process, you may not get the funds you need or deserve.
Below are five tips to help you maximize your workers’ compensation claim.
1. Report Your Injury Immediately
Anytime you’re hurt at work, you should notify your boss as soon as possible. Every state requires that you do so within a certain amount of time, and if you miss that deadline, you may not be able to collect your benefits, so don’t wait.
Most employers will have a standard Report of Injury form you can fill out. If you are unable to do that right away, simply make a call or send an email so you have it on record that you reported the injury immediately.
If you’re afraid you may get into trouble or lose your job, remember that it is illegal for an employer to harass or fire you for reporting a work-related injury. If you face any retribution at all, contact a personal injury attorney.
2. Get Medical Treatment
If you’re seriously hurt, this step should come first of course, but otherwise, make sure you get to the doctor or hospital as soon as possible. Don’t wait to see if you may feel better in a few days. If you wait, you may give the company a reason to deny your claim, which you don’t want to do.
Even if you’re not sure if the injury is “that bad,” it’s better to be safe than sorry. Go see a doctor and get the injury on record.
If your company requires you to go to a certain doctor chosen by the insurance company, be careful. Don’t refuse the appointment, but consider changing doctors if you feel you’re not getting the best treatment. The insurance company’s doctor, being paid by the insurance company, may not have your best interests in mind.
Every state has its own rules for changing doctors—check with a workers’ compensation attorney for help.
3. File Your Claim ASAP
Notifying your employer is only the first step in processing a worker’s compensation claim. You must fill out the paperwork as soon as possible. You should have received this paperwork after informing your boss of the injury. If you didn’t, ask for it. If you still have trouble getting it or you’re feeling unwell after
the injury, ask a family member or trusted friend for help in filling out the claim.
Keep in mind that this form will be going to the insurance company and that they will use it to evaluate your injury and determine your compensation. Make sure you fill it out completely and carefully, then send it on time to the correct person in your company.
4. Proceed Cautiously with the Insurance Company
When interacting with the insurance company, be cautious. It’s important to describe your accident in detail, with specific facts included such as the time of the accident, what exactly you were doing when it happened, the physical symptoms you experienced, and any physical symptoms you continue to experience.
After your regular doctor’s appointment, you may have to go through an Independent Medical Examination (IME), in which the insurance company has a doctor review your medical records, perform an examination, and issue a report that the company then uses to determine its response. Prepare for this exam by reviewing your medical records and being as precise as possible.
Finally, be aware that the insurance company is watching you. Some even hire private investigators to follow you around to be sure you are being honest about your injuries. Be careful with social media posts, make sure you make all your doctor’s appointments, and follow all treatment recommendations.
If anyone with the insurance company asks you for a recorded statement, don’t allow it. Never give the company a general release for your medical records—they should request only a limited medical authorization for records associated with your work injury. Check with your attorney for clarification on anything you’re unsure of.
5. Consider Carefully the Insurance Company’s Offer
Hopefully, everything will go well with the insurance company and you will receive the compensation you deserve. If the first offer seems inadequate or if your claim is denied, that doesn’t mean you have to settle for what you get. Many initial claims are denied and insurance companies are known for offering less than they should.
An experienced workers’ compensation attorney can help in these situations whether you need to negotiate with the company or appeal a denied claim. Generally, you don’t have to pay anything upfront—your attorney charges a fee only if you win your case.