Top Five Mistakes Made After a Job Injury
Worker’s compensation can be a difficult area to navigate, whether you’ve incurred a serious injury directly related to your duties or you’re pursuing a case based upon temporarily hazardous circumstances such as the COVID-19 pandemic. Work-related injuries are extremely common, especially in industries that require physical labor on a regular basis such as construction. This is why worker’s compensation is such a significant area of personal injury law.
After sustaining an injury on the job, it’s important to act quickly to ensure you’ll receive the compensation you deserve. However, it may be difficult to know what to do and what not to do immediately following an accident on the job, especially if you’ve never sustained an injury at work before.
Any mistakes made during the claims process for obtaining worker’s compensation can potentially reduce the settlement or benefits you should be entitled to. Therefore, having a clear course of action is crucial for optimum success.
The Top Five Mistakes Made After an Injury on the Job
While you’re gathering your materials to make your worker’s compensation case, it’s also important to know what mistakes to avoid. Here are the top five mistakes to keep your eye out for during the legal process.
1. Incorrectly reporting injuries.
In order to put together an airtight worker’s compensation claim, you need to be as thorough as possible. That means indicating exactly what injuries were sustained, how they happened, and how they’ve affected you. This could include physical repercussions, medical bills, income lost through the inability to work while recovering, and any other significant damage your work-related injury has caused.
When taking stock of your injuries, it’s important not to leave anything out or downplay your symptoms. Plus, if you’re experiencing pain in a part of your body that wasn’t technically injured in your accident, that doesn’t mean it’s irrelevant to your case. In fact, many injuries can often cause unexpected symptoms.
Talk openly with your doctor about every physical abnormality you’re experiencing in order to get a clearer picture of exactly what injuries you sustained on the job and how they may be affecting you now.
2. Failing to report injuries in a timely manner.
If you become injured while at work but neglect to file a worker’s compensation claim promptly, you may be unable to file your claim at all. This is one of the most common mistakes made after a job-related injury and one of the most problematic. The time limit on worker’s compensation claims varies from state to state, but employees generally have around 30 days to file a claim after an injury.
Certain exemptions to this rule exist, but having to fight for an exemption while also trying to file a worker’s compensation claim will actually make being awarded compensation a more difficult and drawn-out process. No matter the injury, if you plan on filing for worker’s compensation, it’s always best to get started sooner rather than later.
As a general rule of thumb, you should notify your employer as soon as you discover that you’ve been hurt.
3. Missing work without being excused by a doctor.
Different injuries require different recovery periods in order to heal fully. However, a common mistake employees make after suffering from a work-related injury is failing to return to work once they are able to.
As long as you have proof from a medical professional that you’re unable to work, your employer can’t use your time away from work against you during worker’s compensation proceedings. However, if you no longer have a doctor’s excuse and still fail to show up to work or choose not to reaccept a furloughed position, your choice could be considered as voluntary loss of income, therefore weakening your claim.
If you recover but feel you’re still unable to fulfill your duties at work, it’s important in the claims process to make some attempt as opposed to not showing up at all. Once you’ve made it clear to your superiors that you’re unable to perform your assigned tasks, you can include this information in your claim for worker’s compensation.
4. Being untruthful about injuries and claims both past and present.
Oftentimes, those filing for worker’s compensation can be their own downfall by inventing or playing up injuries in order to receive a greater settlement or better benefits. If a reputable medical professional is unable to stand behind every single injury claim you’re making, your case will lose a great deal of believability.
Additionally, some employees seeking worker’s compensation fail to report previous injuries or claims they’ve made in the past that could have some bearing on their current claim. If you are found to be omitting medical or claim history, your current claim will most likely be thrown out. If not, your employer will likely be able to use this omission against you by claiming that the injuries you sustained were caused by a pre-existing condition, weakening your claim and likely causing you to lose your case.
5. Taking on your worker’s compensation case without legal counsel.
Worker’s compensation law is a complex discipline that can be easy to get lost in if you don’t have the expertise. Navigating medical documents, insurance policies, and employer policies in addition to state regulations surrounding job-related injuries could overwhelm anyone without the help of an experienced attorney.
A personal injury lawyer can help identify any loopholes in your claim and help you build the best case to receive the fairest settlement possible. Plus, an attorney’s added professionalism on your side can automatically strengthen your claim in the eyes of a judge.
Hiring an Attorney Can Help You Avoid Costly Mistakes
Seeking compensation for job-related injuries can be complex and confusing at times. However, there are many benefits to be gained from the process, depending on the injuries sustained and their circumstances. In order to put together a strong worker’s compensation claim, it’s important to accurately report all injuries in a timely manner, return to work once your recovery period is up even if you’re unsure, be completely forthcoming about your medical history, and hire a high-quality attorney to tie it all together.