- Always report your Injury. This sounds basic but it does not always happen and can create big problems down the road. Report your injury to your foreman, steward, business agent, general contractor, supervisor or H.R. professional immediately, regardless of whether or not you think it is only a minor injury and you can continue working. Often times injured workers do not report their injuries immediately, because they think that it is not a serious injury and they should “be fine by tomorrow.” If your injury turns out to be more serious than initially thought, the failure to immediately report is likely to lead to the worker’s compensation insurer denying the claim.
- Take photographs of the dangerous condition or defective equipment that caused your injury. Use your cellphone to take photographs that can later help prove you were injured on the job and may also be evidence for a third-party negligence claim. It is important to document that dangerous condition that caused the injury.
- Tell your medical providers that this is a workers’ compensation claim and have them submit treatment bills to the workers’ compensation insurer. If you put your medical treatment through health insurance, your health insurer may permissibly retract payments previously made to medical providers (because they are not responsible for paying for work-related injury treatment) and you could get stuck with the bills.
- Give an accurate history of the work injury to your medical providers. This may be very useful evidence in the future if the workers’ compensation insurer challenges whether or not your injury was caused in the course of your employment.
- Get a referral to a doctor from your primary care doctor, family or friend. You need treatment from an honest medical provider, not a doctor who accepts referrals from employers or insurance companies.
- Use your health insurance only if your medical provider has submitted a request for treatment to the workers’ comp insurer and the workers’ comp insurer has denied authorization for that treatment. Again, you don’t want to get stuck with medical bills because the medical provider didn’t bill the appropriate insurance company.
- When in doubt, call an experienced workers’ comp attorney. Consultations are free and claims are handled on a contingent fee basis.
- Do not wait until you can no longer work before reporting injury. Delays in reporting the injury are likely the #1 cause of claims being denied by a claims adjuster.
- Do not report your injury as non-work related out of fear of repercussions by your employer or to appease your employer. Most employers will continue to pay wages for a limited period of time if you go along with them and do not report your injury was occurring on the job. However, when disability lasts longer than expected, your employer will likely lay you off at some point. You can still file for workers’ comp, but with no injury report and medical records not indicating the injury occurred on the job, it is a tough case to prove.
- Do not go to a medical provider that was referred to you by your employer, the general contractor, the workers’ comp insurer or a nurse case manager. These people are not looking out for your best interests. They want you to see one of “their doctors” who will not support your workers’ compensation claim.
- Do not put your medical treatment through health insurance. Often times the employer will tell you that they will “take care of you” if you do not report the injury as work-related and use your health insurance. This will likely lead to a denied workers’ comp claim when your employer changes their mind and lays you off and you need to rely on workers’ comp benefits.
- Do not give any statements to the workers’ comp insurer or sign any documents without consulting with an attorney. This includes the Form 105 – Agreement to Extend 180 Day Payment Without Prejudice Period. If you receive this, not only should you not sign it, but you should contact an attorney immediately.