If you have been injured on the job, the first thing on your to-do list is to report your injury followed by have your injury treated. The last thing on that list, and probably not even a thought to be put on your list at all, is ensuring you avoid the common pitfalls a fair percentage of workers’ compensation claims fall prey to. The world of accessing workers’ compensation benefits is not as straight forward as one would hope. There are deadlines, rules, and procedures that cannot be avoided or worked around in order to have a successful claim. While this article is by no means an exhaustive list, it is the injured employee’s guiding light to cast the spotlight on the four ways to avoid the most common mistakes incurred when beginning to file a workers’ compensation claim.
- Report your injury as soon as possible to your employer.
To even have a chance of obtaining benefits from a workers’ compensation claim, the most important thing you must do as an employee is to report the incident to your employer. In Alabama, you have five days after the incident occurs to report the accident to your employer. You also have 90 days from the accident to report but it must be in writing if after 5 days. It is best to give notice as soon as possible.
Be truthful and fully disclose the events that led up to the accident and the extent of your injuries immediately following. By completely disclosing the truthful events of the incident, you will make your claims process easier because a representative of the employer’s workers’ compensation insurance company will not be able to deny your claim based on inconsistent facts if further investigation is conducted regarding the accident. The most efficient way to safeguard this disclosure of the accident is to submit the incident report in writing to your immediate supervisor and employer.
- Seek the treatment of approved healthcare providers.
Workers’ compensation was created to treat injuries incurred while on the job. While this is important for your own recovery, it is critical to the success of your claim. If you do not seek treatment from a doctor, you are dismissing your own claim. Further, while it is acceptable to see your own doctor, it is imperative to see a healthcare provider approved by your employer. It is the report of this employer-approved healthcare provider that will be used to support your claim for compensation. So, treat with a doctor-approved by your employer or the workers’ compensation carrier.
- Follow the instructions of your approved healthcare provider.
Following the instructions given to you by your approved healthcare provider includes attending the appointments to meet with your doctor, attending rehabilitation sessions, and adhering to the recovery plan created for your injury. Be on time and attend all appointments. Your doctor’s reports are included as supplemental records in your workers’ compensation claim. Failure to follow through with the recovery process created will be noted in your claims process and could result in the discontinuation of your benefits or dismissal of your claim.
- Reach out to/hire an experienced workers’ compensation lawyer.
While this might seem an obvious mistake to avoid, it is important to consider the timing in which you contact a lawyer. Seeking the advice of legal counsel soon after your injury, and before filing a claim, could mean the difference between having your claim approved and having to appeal a denial of your claim. Workers’ compensation can seem murky ground to tread for an employee that has never been injured on the job and is only now beginning to make his way through the maze of requirements to have a successful claim.
A workers’ compensation attorney is well-practiced in the art of guiding claims through the nuances required to get your benefits. An attorney is available to offer advice on what to say to investigators sent by the employer who wants to reduce the benefits the employer’s insurance policy will have to pay you, and the attorney will know how to obtain the most favorable outcome for your specific case, which may include a claim for compensation against a third party as well. The earlier you get an attorney involved, the earlier you will be able to have the help and advice of someone that knows the law and is looking out for you.
If you are hurt on the job due to unsafe working conditions, seek legal counsel, as you may be entitled to workers’ compensation or other benefits. As we have since 1967, we will continue to protect the legal rights of our clients – those who are hurt on the job while working for Alabama employers. If you have been injured on the job and want to learn your rights, please consider contacting the Nomberg Law Firm. Our office number is 205-930-6900.
Bernard D. Nomberg has been a lawyer for more than 20 years. Bernard has earned an AV rating from Martindale-Hubbell’s peer-review rating. In 2019, Bernard was named a Super Lawyer for the 7th year in a row.