Workers Comp Whoopsies: Common Mistakes That Can Ruin Your Claim
When a worker gets injured on the job, it’s common for them to feel overwhelmed and confused about what to do next. In some cases, your instincts may actually lead you in the wrong direction. An experienced workers compensation lawyer can help guide you through the process and will fight on your behalf to get you the financial settlement you deserve. However, you’ll also want to avoid making the following five workers comp mistakes. Otherwise, there’s a chance your claim may not have the result you were hoping for.
- Waiting too long to give notice
You need to tell your employer about the incident and your injuries right away. In most states, there’s a fairly small window of time to file a workers compensation claim, and you want to make sure your employer has a record of the incident to file. It’s not enough to mention an injury offhandedly or confide in a coworker. You need to meet with your boss and tell them exactly when and how the incident occurred and what injuries you sustained. You cannot be fired due to filing this kind of claim, at least not legally, so don’t worry about any repercussions.
- Assuming others are on your side
Do not operate under the assumption that your employer, their insurance company, or the doctor they recommend are 100% on your side. While you may have a great rapport with your boss, keep in mind that workers compensation costs for employers reached $83.2 billion in 2012, and these numbers have only risen since then. Potentially, your employer could try to discourage you from filing a claim or may be slow to file in order to impact your case. In addition, the company’s insurance company and doctor are not always working in your best interests. They may try to downplay your injuries in order to minimize your payout. You are free to select a doctor of your choice or obtain a second opinion, and when dealing with the insurance company, be cooperative but guarded.
- Embellishing your injuries
Unfortunately, there are workers who end up making it harder for legitimately injured employees to have their claims taken seriously. Do not embellish your physical injuries or add new ones just so your claim will seem stronger. More than likely, you’re going to end up getting caught, which can totally derail any chance you had at getting compensation for the injuries you do have! Faking or exaggerating your injuries is a dangerous workers comp mistake; by doing so, you’ll actually be committing insurance fraud, so don’t take the risk. Be truthful about your injuries and have them documented properly.
- Disregarding your doctor’s advice
If you ignore the advice of your doctor, say, by going back to work before you should or doing non-recommended physical activities, you risk making your injuries worse. But this can also have an adverse effect on your claim itself. By returning to work too soon or too late, assumptions can be drawn about the legitimacy of your claim. And if you choose not to pursue recommended tests or treatment methods, the insurance company could argue your injuries may not have been as serious as you alleged. Do yourself a favor and follow all doctor’s orders to the letter.
- Agreeing to a settlement without your workers comp lawyer
In an effort to save on costs, your employer’s insurance company may offer a settlement. Although taking the settlement may seem tempting, it’s possible that you are actually entitled to a lot more than what they offer. In addition, the settlement legal papers can often be very complex, so you could be agreeing to terms you don’t fully understand. If you want to entertain a settlement offer, your workers compensation lawyer should be present to review it and make sure it’s a fair deal. If it’s not, your attorney can advise you to take your claim to court instead.
If you need help with a workers compensation claim, our Oklahoma City lawyers are here for you. To find out more information or to schedule a consultation, get in touch with us today.