Workers’ compensation benefits are necessary for workers to make ends meet after suffering a job-related injury. However, many workers do not receive the help they deserve due to simple mistakes made while filing a claim. It is important that injured workers know both their rights and responsibilities in regards to the workers’ comp claims process. The following tips will help you get the most of your workers’ compensation claim.
Make An Immediate Report
You should make your immediate supervisor aware of your injury as soon as the event takes place. States vary on the length of time workers have to report their injuries. Injured workers that miss the deadline for reporting injuries may find they are no longer eligible to be compensated for a workplace accident.
There is also a deadline for starting the official claims process in many states. You should make yourself aware of any deadlines in the state you reside when injured on the job.
Seek Immediate Medical Treatment
It is important to receive treatment from qualified medical personnel immediately after suffering an injury in the workplace. Immediate medical attention can help you reach full recovery in as short a time period as possible. A prompt medical assessment of your injury is also powerful evidence for your workers’ comp claim.
A delay in treatment on your part will give an insurance company fighting against your claim the ammunition to say your injuries are not as severe as you claim. In some cases, they will deny you were ever injured in the first place.
Obtain Witness Statements
Whenever possible, obtain statements from witnesses that were present when your injury occurred. Witness accounts are extremely important to prove your injury was not a result of your own negligence. The memory of certain facts will fade with time so make sure witnesses provide a written account of your accident to be included with your claim.
Consider A Change Of Doctors
Some states require injured workers to make their initial consultation with a physician chosen by the insurance company. These doctors are employed by the insurance company which sets the stage for a conflict of interest. When in this position, a doctor may feel pressure to downplay the extent of the injuries you suffered to save money for the insurance company.
You should not hesitate to switch doctors if you are uncomfortable with the level of care you are receiving. Each state will have its own set of rules regarding changes of doctors so make sure you are in accordance with the rules of your state.
Understand Available Benefits
If injured on the job, you should take the time to gain an understanding of the workers’ compensation benefits available to you. The benefits will vary from state to state but the following is true across the board:
- Temporary disability – benefits received when you are not working and recovering from a workplace injury.
- Permanent benefits – benefits paid for permanent physical damage received in the workplace
- Medical care – reasonable medical treatment for injuries received in the workplace.
- job rehabilitation – retraining and job placement for jobs that fit any new restrictions you may have.
- Mileage – reimbursement for travel costs to receive medical attention and other travel expenses related to your claim.
You should keep all paperwork concerning your claim in a safe place. This includes letters from your place of employment, any work restrictions, all completed forms, and any correspondence with insurance companies.
Your doctor will maintain a record of treatment in your case but these records sometimes do not include work restrictions. All records are pertinent to a successful workers’ compensation claim.
Behave As If Being Watched
Insurance companies will sometimes hire private investigators to watch injured workers whose claims they do not trust. If this happens to you, the investigator will watch you both at home and when you are in public. If the investigator is able to obtain a photo or video evidence of you performing physical actions that contradict your documented injuries, it can spell trouble for your claim.
The Bottom Line
Workers compensation benefits are available to workers who are injured while on the job. The process of filing a claim to receive compensation claims can be complex and a number of rules must be followed. The seven tips above will give injured workers a better chance of success with their workers’ compensation cases.