People get injured at work all of the time. Jobs in some industries such as construction pose a greater risk of injury to their employees. But accidents and injuries can occur in any work environment. Your workplace injury might not even be directly related to your job duties. If the thing that caused your injury is part of your work environment, your employer is responsible for your damages.
What should I do if I am hurt on the job?
The first thing you should do is inform your supervisor, regardless of how the injury occurred. If you slip and fall on a wet floor, cut yourself on a piece of equipment, or the paper towel holder in the restroom falls off the wall and hurts your nose, report it. There is no way to know how serious the injury is at that point or its classification. Sometimes injuries “arise out of employment’ while they can also ‘arise in the course of employment’. Go ahead and report the accident now and worry about the details later.
Workers’ compensation pays for most injuries that occur on the job. That means you need to follow the appropriate procedure according to your state. Some states require you to make a report in writing while others only require a verbal report. Even if you are only required to do the latter, try to make your report in writing. Be sure to include the date that you submit the report and the date of the accident that caused your injury. Every state has a statute of limitations during which you must file for workers’ comp. There is also a shorter deadline for reporting the injury to your supervisor. If you miss these deadlines, you can lose your rights to receive workers’ comp benefits.
Can I go to my own doctor?
This depends on your state, too. In Maryland, you have the right to choose your own medical provider. However, the doctor you choose must accept payments according to the state’s fee schedule. If he isn’t willing to accept the authorized fees, you have the option to pay the difference out-of-pocket or go to a doctor who will.
Your employer also has the right to have you seen by one of their own doctors. This is to ensure the treatment you receive is ‘necessary and reasonable’. At the same time, they can’t demand that you use the doctor provided by the insurance company for your medical treatment.
Where do I get a workers’ comp claim?
Your employer is the one who pays premiums to an insurance company for workers’ compensation insurance. They must legally provide you with a claim to request benefits as soon as they learn about your injury. If the necessary forms aren’t provided to you, contact the Workers’ Compensation Office in your state. They will give you the option to print the form and mail it in or complete and submit the claim online. Make sure you accomplish this process within the time limit your state allows.
If you obtain the form from your employer, make sure you sign and date it. Once you complete the ‘employee’ section, submit the form to your employer in person or by certified mail. It is up to your employer to complete the form and submit it to their insurance company. The insurance company also has time limits to work under. Usually, the law requires them to notify you within 14 days whether they approve or deny your claim.
You have the right to file a workers’ compensation claim if you get injured on the job in any state. Your employer also has the responsibility to obtain workers’ comp insurance to protect his or her employees. If your employer tries to “make a deal” with you to keep you from filing a claim, it may be because he doesn’t have the coverage required by law. Any attempt by your employer to prevent you from filing a workers’ comp claim is against the law.
Your employer is liable for your work-related injury and the responsibility for carrying workers’ comp insurance is his. Failing to have the required insurance can open your employer up to a personal injury lawsuit. Workers’ comp is an agreement between an employer and their employees. In return for the insurance benefits, the employee foregoes the right to sue. When the employer doesn’t keep up their end of that agreement, you have the right to pursue compensation in a court of law.
Can my employer prevent me from getting medical treatment?
No, this is another of your legal rights. Nothing is more important than getting the medical treatment you need. Some types of injuries can progress and become much more serious if left untreated. Often, secondary conditions such as infections will only increase your discomfort, time off from work, and your need for medical treatment.
If you have health insurance to pay for your treatment, go ahead and use it. Once you receive workers’ comp benefits, you will probably have to pay the health insurance company back for any part of your treatment they already covered. The medical provider(s) you see for treatment may ask if your injury is work-related. If not, make sure they know yours is a workers’ comp claim. Your medical records will be valuable evidence if your claim is denied or challenged.
Can I be fired for filing a claim?
Employers aren’t legally permitted to harass, threaten, or fire employees for filing a workers’ compensation claim. Firing or threatening to fire an employee in retaliation for filing workers’ comp is against the law. It violates the employee’s right to file a claim and pursue benefits due to their injury.
Why do employers object to employees getting their workers’ compensation benefits?
It’s easy to see why insurance companies don’t want to pay claims. The money comes out of their company’s pocket. The insurance adjuster may take every means available to prevent paying you anything to increase their bottom line.
The employer also stands to lose a lot but in a different way. Workers’ comp insurance works somewhat like car insurance. A minor fender bender can cause your rates to go up. In this case, the more workers’ comp claims a company has, the higher the company’s rates will go. In addition, the company may be fined due to failing to meet standards. There may also be third-party liability costs, the fees for the employee’s pain and suffering, and the cost of a replacement. They may make claims against you that aren’t reasonable just in case they can get something to stick.
What if my claim is denied?
It isn’t unusual for workers’ comp claims to initially be denied. If this happens, it’s not the end of the road. The insurance company and/or your employer may give any of a number of common reasons as support for denying your claim. These include claiming that your file wasn’t filed in time, that you haven’t gotten medical treatment, that your injury isn’t work-related, and many other reasons. The frequency of denied claims makes it imperative to follow the workers’ comp laws in your state closely. Make sure you meet all of the deadlines and keep records of your medical treatments. If you don’t agree with the decision, you can file an appeal. This process also has time limits determined by the individual states.
When do I need to start thinking about getting a lawyer?
Sometimes the workers’ comp process is smooth and goes through without any real issues. If your employer or his insurance company makes any objections against your claim, it can become complicated very quickly.
The law that pertains to workers’ comp law is very complex. The fact that each state has unique laws and statutes of limitations makes it even more difficult to understand. All it takes is a single mistake for you to lose your entire case and your rights.
The advice you can get from a local workers’ comp attorney far exceeds what you need to know about filling out the initial claim. From the time you are first injured at work, there are some things you need to do to start building your case. An attorney will help you identify key witnesses, secure evidence, and get the medical care you need for your injury at the same time.
If your initial claim is denied, you will need an attorney to help you with the appeals process. Again, you must work within a specified time frame to secure the evidence you need to prove your case. An attorney knows what you need to win your argument for justice and will help you secure it.
Will I have to go to court?
Many people are intimidated by the idea of going up against the company they work for in a court of law. Many larger organizations have an entire team of lawyers at their disposal for all types of legal disputes. It’s important to understand the process that workers’ comp claims typically go through and what that could mean for your claim.
Most disputed claims are settled without going to court. Avoiding a long trial is to your benefit and that of your employer and insurance company. Legal fees and court costs add up quickly on both sides. Negotiating a settlement also allows each side to control how much the insurance company pays. When you go through litigation, you must rely on the decision of the court. If you aren’t happy with their decision and you appeal it, it’s even more expensive.
A good workers’ comp attorney will start preparing for court as soon as he takes your case. Although only a small percent of all claims ends up in litigation, he needs to be prepared to represent you in case yours is one of those cases. Even if it doesn’t, this preparation will help him negotiate a better settlement for you. It’s important that the other side knows you are prepared to fight for your rights.
Your lawyer knows the tactics insurance companies use to pay less or not at all. They may claim you weren’t injured at work and that your injury was pre-existing. They may say that you weren’t really injured at all. Some insurance companies follow victims around with a video camera, ready to take pictures of their physical feats. It isn’t enough to know that your own injuries are real. Your attorney will help you understand how important it is to erase any doubt the insurance company builds around your injury.
When can I bring a lawsuit against my employer?
Sometimes it isn’t just your employer who is at-fault for your injury. If a third-party person or entity played a role, they can be held liable too. For example, if the equipment you use at work malfunctioned, it might be due to a faulty manufacturing process. If your employer did something on purpose that injured you, you might have a valid personal injury case.
Did your employer hire someone who wasn’t qualified to do their job? If their negligence resulted in your injury, you should talk with a lawyer. Any time you get injured at work and it is due to the negligent or willful actions of others, you have a right to compensation. Let an experienced personal injury attorney help you understand the distinctions that set your case apart.
A workers’ comp attorney can help you file a claim on time and accurately to improve your chances of having your initial claim approved. They can help you build a strong case, defend you in court, and negotiate a fair settlement for your needs. They are aggressive enough to pursue your interests and compassionate enough to understand what you’re going through.
Dealing with a work-related injury can impact every aspect of your life. Get the benefits you need to heal and get back to life as usual. If you’ve been injured at work, contact Ingerman & Horwitz to schedule a case evaluation. We can’t wait to hear your side of the story and determine whether you need to pursue your case.