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7 Mistakes that can hurt your workers' compensation claim

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Not Properly Reporting Your Injury

You have 180 days to properly report your injury to your employer.  Reporting your injury as soon as possible certainly is the best thing you can do.  This will minimize skepticism that very often comes when an employee reports an injury that is not witnessed by several other employees, or is an injury that is very obvious based on the tasks that you perform.

Not Treating With the “Panel Doctor”

After you have suffered a work injury, you are required by law to treat with what is known as a “Panel Physician.” Employers must have a list of doctors posted at the work place, or one that is provided to you, and you are required to treat with one of those doctors for the first 90 days following your injury. 

Assuming Your Average Weekly Wage Is Correct

The amount of your checks, or your workers’ compensation rate, will be determined based on your “average weekly wage.”  The average weekly wage is calculated based on your actual earnings for the time period leading up to the date of your injury.  It is important to make sure that things such as overtime work and other factors are included when your wage calculations are made. 

Believing Your Injury Has Been Properly Described

Very often we will see the injury not properly described.  The insurance company has 21 days to either accept or deny your claim and they will do so before you have an MRI or other diagnostic test; consequently, your injury may be accepted as something that is not accurate.  For example, we will often see back injuries described as “strain/sprain” injury, when in fact there may be a herniated disc.  Although this may not appear significant at the time the injury is accepted, it can become very important as your case progresses and you may need to file a Review Petition to have your injury properly described.

Not Following Doctor’s Orders

This seems like a no brainer, but people can be proud, and stubborn.  No one likes being restricted in what they are able to do physically, especially when they were hurt performing their job.  Your life requires you to work around the house, take care of the kids and do your daily chores.  Despite these requirements, it is important to be compliant with the restrictions the doctor has placed on you because you may injured yourself further, or the insurance company may have you under surveillance in an attempt to show you are capable of doing more physical activity than you are claiming. Surveillance pictures and videos of you even trying to do more than you are limited to doing by your doctor can lead to your benefits being stopped if they even give the appearance that you are doing more than the doctor is limiting you to doing because it may appear that you are being untruthful, even if it is a one time attempt by you to see what you are capable of doing.   

Returning To Work Too Soon

Much like not following the doctor’s orders because you are feeling sad or depressed about not being your pre-injury self; returning to work before you are ready can have a very bad effect on your claim.  Once you return to work, with no wage loss, the employer most likely will suspend your benefits.  You will have 21 days to challenge this suspension (if your condition leads to you being unable to work because of the work injury) but if you work more than 21 days, you will need to prove that your benefits should be reinstated and you may not get paid during the time it takes to prove your benefits should be reinstated.

Settling Your Claim by Yourself

There may come a time when the adjuster asks if you are interested in “settling” your claim.  For many people, this can be the best way to resolve their claim.  Most likely, this is the first time that you have had a workers’ compensation claim, and you are uncertain what your claim is even worth.  This is only one of the reasons you should speak to an experienced workers’ compensation attorney if you are considering settling your claim.  Keep in mind, the adjuster handles cases all day, they have the insurance company’s interest at heart, not yours.  You will need someone to protect your rights and try to get you the best settlement possible.

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