You deserve every bit of what you’re owed! Here’s how to ensure you get the maximum amount from your workers’ compensation claim and settlement.

A workplace injury can be one of the most serious, life-changing events one can experience. If you’ve been hurt on the job, you should learn all you can about your worker’s compensation rights. Because the more you understand the playing field, the better prepared you’ll be when it comes time to make that worker’s comp claim.

You deserve every bit of what you’re owed! Here’s how to ensure you get the maximum amount from your workers’ compensation claim and settlement.

What a Worker’s Compensation Claim Covers

Worker’s compensation is a type of insurance your employer carries for workers who get injured while on the job. Worker’s comp insurance covers medical bills, but it can cover lost wages as well. In the most extreme workplace injury cases, this specialized type of insurance can compensate lost wages for life!

In an ideal world, barring any dispute, worker’s compensation insurance kicks in the moment you’re injured. The incident does not even have to be your employer’s fault. Accidents happen, and some workplaces tend to be more injury-prone than others.

As you might imagine, most worker’s comp claims come from physical jobs, such as:

  • Manufacturing and Industry
  • Nursing
  • Farming and Ranching
  • Law Enforcement
  • Mining

Common workplace injuries include muscle strains, contusions, lacerations, inflammation, and fractures. Popular mechanisms of injury include slips-and-falls and repetitive stress. However, some especially dangerous jobs might put you at risk of being hit by a falling object or exposed to toxic fumes.

It’s important to understand the landscape of what worker’s comp insurance covers. Having realistic and appropriate expectations is a foundation for success when it comes to worker’s compensation collections.

Worker’s comp insurance can replace wages for temporary or permanent disability. It can also cover vocational rehab and expenses incurred throughout one’s treatment, such as mileage, for example.

Keep in mind that worker’s comp does not cover you if you sustained a workplace injury while violating company policy or acting negligently. Nor does it cover you if you’ve been injured on the job while under the influence of drugs or intoxicated.

How to Handle Your Claim

Technically, a worker’s comp claim is a type of personal injury claim. The steps you take to pursue your worker’s comp case bear some similarity to any other type of personal injury, like a car accident, for example.

That said, there are some things you should prioritize to succeed in your claim. A worker’s compensation settlement doesn’t come easy, but if your case is legit, you can receive the compensation entitled to you by the law.

Here are the most important steps to follow for your claim to be complete.

1) Seek Immediate Medical Care

Not only do you need to see a doctor after an accident for your own health and well being, but doing so will bolster your worker’s comp case. The last thing you want to do is give the insurance company any room to deny your claim.

Waiting weeks–or even days–after a work-related accident to seek medical care can send signals that your claim is bogus. “After all, if you were really injured, you would have gone to the hospital, right?” Such is the logic the insurance company will use to squeeze you out of what is otherwise a legitimate claim.

So, seek medical help, even if you don’t “feel” injured. Why? The main reason is that, often, the body responds to physical trauma via a slew of brain chemicals. The result is that, after an accident, many people may feel dizzy, confused, euphoric, and numb, all of which can mask physical damage.

In the hours after an accident, especially a serious one, pain often does not factor in–though it definitely comes later. So if you are judging the situation by how much pain you feel, you will miss out on the critical care you may need as well as your claim’s foundation.

2) Notify Your Employer

This one may seem like stating the obvious, but you will want to notify your employer ASAP. Many workplace situations occur off-site, and there may not be a supervisor present to report to right away. There may not have even been a witness!

So don’t delay notifying your employer. If they are a good, ethical company, they will have your back and be able to guide you in the right direction when it comes to filing your claim.

From a claims point of view, you want to make sure to give the employer official notice of your accident. This is another area where an insurance company can poke holes in your case.

Filing a report with your employer makes the accident official. It’s akin to filing a police report after a car accident. If any dispute between you and the insurance company arises, your notice to your employer acts as an official record that what you claim actually happened.

3) File The Worker’s Comp Claim

If there is one area where you really don’t want to delay acting on, it’s filing the actual worker’s comp claim. The timeline is yet another factor that can work against you if you take too long. More importantly, state and federally-mandated deadlines require a certain degree of timeliness.

Translation: if you don’t file your claim within a specified timeline, you may be out of luck. While each state sets its own deadlines, the average range is around one to two years, depending on the injury type. Even by the Federal Employee’s Compensation Act, the limit is three years.

You don’t have forever to file your claim. So don’t delay. And, if your injury is of gradual onset, like carpal tunnel or an illness brought on by toxic exposure, for example, you have from the time you learned about your condition to file.

4) Seek Out An Independent Doctor

Initially, your employer may refer you to the company doctor. This in itself is not bad, but you may want to think about seeking the opinion of a different physician.

The reason? As a provider working on behalf of both your employer and the insurance company, the physician will likely have some incentive to downplay or disregard your injury’s severity.

As reprehensible as it sounds, it happens. So play it safe and always get the proverbial “second opinion.”

5) Be Consistent In Your Statements

From your worker’s comp claim to your doctor’s visit to the incident report you file with your employer, be clear in your statements. Most importantly, be clear and be consistent.

Inconsistent statements are another avenue that someone evaluating your claim can use against you. When was the onset of your now-chronic back pain? Was it six months or a year ago?

Eliminate any doubt and have everything–from the timeline to the event itself–clear in your mind.

6) Keep Track of Everything

Keep records. Of everything.

If any eyewitnesses can attest to the accident, make sure to get a statement from them. If possible, take photos of your injuries, the workplace scene after the accident, as well as any accompanying evidence that can support your claim (like the condition of any outdated, dysfunctional equipment, for example.)

And if you’re not sure whether a piece of possible evidence could support your claim, take a record of it anyway. Gaps will only work against you, so the more detail you can gather, the better.

Also, keep records of any expenses you incurred due to the accident, whether it’s mileage to and from your appointments or out-of-pocket expenses like pain meds, crutches, heating pads, ointments, or bandages. Keep diligent records of anything and everything related to your accident.

6) Get A Lawyer

Occasionally, a worker’s comp claim is an obvious, open-and-shut case, especially if it involves employer negligence. But rest assured that if there’s any inkling of doubt, you will be in for a battle.

Insurance companies will often fight tooth and nail to avoid paying a worker’s compensation claim. And, since your employer is akin to the “defendant” in such a case, they might seek out a variety of ways to weaken your case as well. After all, a successful worker’s comp settlement can mean higher premiums for them.

The net result is that you may find yourself at odds with some pretty heavy hitters. If you’re facing a potentially contentious worker’s comp case, it may be time to lawyer up!

The insurance company may offer you a settlement. They may deny or even ignore your claim. As crazy as it sounds, private investigators may scout out your house or monitor you on social media to look for fraud.

None of these situations is ideal, and if you want the best odds going into a worker’s compensation claim, you’ll need the right attorney.

Professionals By Your Side

The team at Fitzpatrick and Associates are professionals seasoned in the field of worker’s compensation. If you experience any friction in your claim, from your employer or the insurance company, we will help you get the compensation entitled to you by the law.

Contact us today for help with your worker’s compensation claim.