5 Mistakes to Avoid When Filing a Workers’ Compensation Claim
5 Mistakes to Avoid When Filing a Workers’ Compensation Claim
No matter how careful you are at work, accidents can happen. Just when you think a work injury can’t possibly happen to you, you fall victim to one and are rendered incapable of performing your former job duties. You turn to your employer and their medical team for a proper diagnosis of your injury or disease and hope to see compensation for your medical bills and lost wages.
Unfortunately, workers’ compensation claims must be filed carefully and submitted in a timely manner, or else they could be denied, and you could be left without money or hope when you need it most. It’s important to contact a workers’ comp lawyer who can help you navigate the process of filing your claim, but it’s also advisable to avoid making the following mistakes when filing your claim. After all, this is your money that you’re entitled to, so why not do everything in your power to ensure it ends up in your bank account?
Mistake #1: Failing to Report Your Work Injury or Occupational Disease
New Jersey’s statute of limitations for filing a workers’ comp claim is 90 days from the date of your workplace accident, or from the date you were informed by a doctor of the scope of your work-related disease and its relation to your job duties or occupational environment. If you don’t file your claim within this 90-day period, it will most likely be denied, which means you won’t see any benefits. Most workers hurt on the job are scared to notify their employer for fear of retaliation, demotion or termination, but it’s your responsibility and duty to inform them of your workplace accident as soon as possible after it happens.
When submitting your claim, make sure to list the exact date, time and location of your accident, a detailed description of your sustained injury or illness symptoms, and detailed accounts from any witnesses to your accident. It’s also crucial to inform your employer of your workplace accident before consulting with a medical professional or visiting your primary care doctor for treatment.
Mistake #2: Failing to Seek Medical Attention and Proper Coverage
Once you notify your employer of your work accident within 90 days of it occurring, the next step is to seek medical attention. Your employer will most likely refer you to a doctor within their insurance carrier’s network, so it’s wise to give them a visit after filing notice of your accident with your employer.
Don’t hesitate to visit your primary care provider for a second opinion if you feel that your employer’s doctor was biased or did not fully listen to your concerns or properly diagnose your condition. Not seeing any type of doctor could seriously cost you in your workers’ comp claim, as your employer’s insurance carrier will note in your file that since you did not seek medical attention, you must not be as injured as you claim.
It’s also advised not to attempt to cover your medical costs on your own private insurance plan. Your employer is responsible for covering all medical costs, treatment costs, and wages you’ve lost from being out of work, and your insurance provider will most likely not cover anything relating to an on-site accident at your workplace.
Mistake #3: Underreporting Or “Playing Down” Your Symptoms
If you suffer a work injury due to a specific accident, you have a responsibility to inform your employer and seek medical attention. However, failure to disclose all potential medical issues you’re experiencing could lead to a significant decrease in your total workers’ comp payout.
You should still report any symptoms you may be experiencing that seem out of the ordinary, even if you don’t think they’re a direct result of your workplace accident. You should also report symptoms even if you can’t trace their onset to one specific accident that happened at work.
For example, the pain in your wrists could be related to carpal tunnel syndrome that you developed from years of typing at a desk. Your sudden breathing problems could have been caused by exposure to hazardous chemicals while on the job. Your sore leg may be related to the work accident that led to your broken foot.
Report all potential symptoms to your primary care provider as well as your employer and their insurance carrier’s recommended medical professional, if you end up consulting with them. Otherwise, the doctor or insurance carrier will record in your file that you’re fine to go back to your regular job duties when in reality, you may still be in need of treatment or recovery time. Failure to report all symptoms in a timely manner will also impact your ability to keep receiving wage replacement or medical benefits.
Mistake #4: Not Filing a Claim Because You Don’t Think You’re Eligible
Those injured in the workplace will often refrain from filing a workers’ compensation claim if they feel that their injury or illness is not “serious enough” to warrant employer benefits or because they did not take any time off of work for treatment or recuperation. You’d be surprised at how many scenarios render you eligible for workers’ comp benefits, and why you should file your claim regardless of any personal reservations you may have.
You can still collect workers’ comp benefits to cover medical expenses even if you didn’t miss any workdays to seek treatment or testing for your injury. You can still collect even if your injury did not stem from one definite incident, or if your injury or disease developed over a period of days, weeks or months. A condition that doesn’t appear to be outwardly severe to the average onlooker can cause a number of serious problems for you in the future if you don’t tell your doctor exactly what you’re experiencing, and can grant you workers’ comp benefits.
Mistake #5: Not Following Up with Your Doctor if You’re Still Having Trouble
Let’s say several months have passed since you were hurt on the job, but you’re still having problems putting weight on your once-broken foot. Tell your doctor about it! The courts will consider you fully recovered from your injury and fit for full-time work again if you don’t regularly follow up with your doctor for your condition.
At the first sign of any continuing problem that could have possibly resulted from your work accident, talk to your doctor about further treatment and time off work, and consult with a qualified workers’ comp attorney about your next course of action for submitting a claim for continued benefits.
Avoid Costly Workers’ Comp Mistakes by Contacting a Qualified Lawyer
If you have been injured on the job, contact the Law Firm of Craig A. Altman. Our attorneys have been helping people, like you, in South Jersey and Philadelphia, file for workers’ comp benefits and will do everything to make sure you get every penny you deserve.