Atlanta work injury attorneys share tips and tricks to protect
your workers’ comp claim payout
When you are injured at work, you probably expected the workers’ compensation process to be straightforward. But unfortunately, that is not always the case. That’s because insurance companies and employers have often been found guilty of putting their profits and bottom line before their employees’ best interests. Therefore, many injured workers must hire workers’ compensation attorneys to protect and fight for their legal rights.
When filing a workers’ comp claim, it is crucial to understand your rights, responsibilities and benefits, as well as beware of tactics commonly employed by insurance companies. With this information in mind, you can build a strong injury claim and secure your financial future.
Below are 10 tips to help you ensure your workers’ compensation benefits are not terminated prematurely or wrongfully denied.
1. Seek immediate medical treatment
It’s imperative that you receive medical care immediately after your work-related injury. That means being rushed to the emergency room, checking in with the company nurse or rushing to a local clinic soon after the accident. Waiting too long for medical care is not only detrimental to your health, but it can also give an insurance company an excuse to deny your claims.
2. Report the injury to your employer as soon as possible
According to Georgia law, it’s your responsibility to report any work-related injuries to your employer or their representative within 30 days of the accident. Missing this deadline may cost you your benefits.
In Georgia, it’s illegal for your employer to fire or harass you for reporting a work-related accident or filing a workers’ compensation claim. However, since Georgia is an “at-will” employment state, it can be difficult to prove that your termination was the result of your claim.
3. Correctly fill out the workers’ comp claim forms
It’s important that you or your attorney file your claim fast and fill out the forms accurately and completely. This comes soon after reporting your injury to the employer and acts as an official notification of your injury to the insurance company.
If you are in severe pain or feeling fuzzy from medication, ask for help from a family member or a friend. Ensure that your forms are organized and complete before submitting them.
4. Follow up with witnesses
Insurance companies commonly request witnesses to confirm an alleged workplace accident. If possible, get the names and contact details of anyone who may have witnessed your accident. Their statements may be what you need to prove that you were indeed hurt at work.
5. Think about changing doctors
In Georgia and many other states, you are required to initially receive treatment from a doctor recommended by the insurance company per your employer’s Panel of Physicians. However, these doctors may have a conflict of interest and attempt to downplay your injuries in order to save their employer (the insurer).
Keep in mind that the doctor you ultimately choose plays a vital role in your workers’ comp case. So, if you feel like they are not looking out for you, consider switching doctors.
6. Get your story straight
Inconsistent accounts of how the accident occurred are a common ground for claim denial by insurers. Ensure the accounts you give your coworkers, supervisors and healthcare providers do not differ.
Describe what happened in detail. Be specific and honest, and do not make excuses for your claims. Also, don’t hide your previous injuries or conditions as the insurer will likely discover these when doing its own research.
7. Limit medical authorizations
You should only sign an authorization allowing the insurer access to medical bills and records related to your work injury. They have no business asking for your mental and medical history before the accident.
Before signing any authorization, get advice from your workers’ compensation lawyer.
8. Don’t forget they are watching
Make no mistake that insurance companies are watching your every move, hoping to catch you doing something that may contradict your claim. This may even involve hiring a private investigator to follow you around and closely observing your activity. It also commonly involves looking at your social media profiles for posts they can use to paint your claim in a bad light.
Insurers are also keen to notice when you miss your medical, therapy or vocational appointments, or a workers’ comp hearing, so be sure not to miss any appointments pertaining to your claim.
9. Prepare for your IME
Be aware that your employer’s insurer can ask you to go for an independent medical examination (IME) from a doctor they choose at any time. The exam is meant to give them an expert opinion on how soon you can get back to work and stop collecting benefits.
Prepare for the IME by reviewing your medical records and attend the appointment to avoid termination of your benefits. Maximizing your settlement is as essential as avoiding its termination.
Here are some tips on how to maximize your workers’ comp settlement:
- Keep detailed records of all documents that are concerned with your workers’ comp claim.
- Don’t give a tape-recorded statement of the accident to the insurer unless your lawyer approves.
- Fully and clearly understand your disability rating as well as your available workers’ comp benefits. Being familiar with the rules of eligibility, amounts and backing it up with a second opinion from a qualified physician can help you challenge the insurer’s rating and secure your financial future.
- Hire an experienced Georgia workers’ compensation lawyer to walk you through the process of appealing a denial of benefits.
10. Don’t do it alone
Some workers’ comp claims seem easy and straightforward, but most are complex, nuanced and you can benefit greatly by hiring an experienced lawyer. Seeking professional legal help is especially important if the insurer has denied or reduced your claims, made a settlement offer or decides to ignore your claim.
Our Georgia workers’ compensation attorneys are ready to help you navigate the workers’ comp system, value your claim properly and negotiate with the insurer. If necessary, we will also represent you in an appeal.