If you are injured on the job, you likely are entitled to financial benefits via workers’ compensation. But don’t think for a minute that your employer, the insurance company, the supposedly independent medical workers examining your condition or anyone else involved in the customary process will make it easy for you to claim those benefits. Workers’ compensation can be complicated and even the simplest mistake or oversight on your part can tank your claim. To help ensure your rights are protected, Jacksonville’s Harrell and Harrell urge you to avoid these six common mistakes:
- Waiting to tell your employer: You should report your work related accident as soon as possible, but no later than 30 days from the date the accident occurs, or within 30 days from the date the doctor says you are suffering from a work related illness or injury. Failure to report your injury or illness within 30 days may result in your claim being denied. The longer you wait, the more likely you are to forget key information and the more suspicion you invite. For instance, your employer may argue that your injury could have happened off the job and waiting months to report an injury leaves lots of room for doubt. Report the incident immediately.
- Not putting it in writing: A written report of the accident and injury is best. Anything less leaves room for dispute. File a written report that includes all details including the precise time, location, how the incident happened and the names and contact information of any witnesses.
- Opting out of medical care: Even if you think your injury is minor, insist on seeing a doctor authorized by the worker’s compensation carrier. Be sure to follow your doctor’s recommendations, keep all follow up appointments and retain all records including medical bills, prescriptions, receipts, mileage counts for doctors’ visits, etc. Otherwise, your employer or the insurance company may argue that your injury is less severe than claimed. Also, don’t discount potential mental health issues that may result from your injury, including depression and PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder). They may require treatment.
- Downplaying your injury for the company’s good: You may love your job and your employer. But don’t allow yourself to be pressured into downplaying or hiding your injury for the company’s good. Your right to fair compensation is far more important than your company’s stated safety record. Also, know that any attempt by your employer to threaten or bribe you into not reporting your injury or taking an under-the-table settlement is illegal.
- Pushing yourself too far: Once you’re feeling better, it’s tempting to push your injury’s limits in an effort to return to your regular routine. But this can backfire in multiple ways. First, it can exacerbate your injury. Plus, many workers’ compensation insurance providers hire private investigators to keep tabs on claimants. If you’re spotted lifting a heavy item, working out, playing with your children, etc., it can be considered evidence against your claim.
- Failing to seek legal help: As previously stated, workers’ compensation can be complicated. There are many rules and deadlines that most outside the legal and insurance fields are unaware of. Your best bet for securing the compensation you deserve is to have an experienced attorney on your side. After all, you can bet that your employer does, too.
If you suffer an injury at work, don’t delay. Report it, get medical attention and call an attorney right away. Call 800-251-1111 to speak with a dedicated workers’ compensation attorney with Jacksonville’s Harrell and Harrell.