Avoid these missteps to increase your chances of having your Georgia workers’ compensation claim approved.
If you’re injured at work, you may be entitled to compensation for medical bills and lost wages. However, the amount of compensation that you receive may depend on the steps that you take (or don’t take) immediately after getting hurt.
Let’s take a look at what you shouldn’t do after experiencing an injury on the job. Following these simple tips will help expedite treatment of your injury and more importantly, ensure that your rights are protected.
Mistake #1: Signing anything before consulting your lawyer.
After a workplace accident, your employer may be just as worried about how much your injury will cost the company as it does about your recovery. The insurance company representing your employer will also want to do whatever it can to pay as little as possible.
Therefore, you may be asked to sign a settlement agreement or a document limiting the exposure that your employer or its insurance provider may face. It’s never a good idea to sign anything without having your attorney review it first. Doing so could limit your rights to obtain a financial award or file a lawsuit at any point in the future.
Mistake #2: Forgetting to report the accident
to your employer right away.
It’s important that you tell your employer about your injuries as soon as they occur. However, that’s not always possible as you may be in a situation where the supervisor is unavailable. It’s very important that you tell somebody, preferably multiple people, that you were injured on the job.
If there’s a form to fill out, make sure you do so and retain a copy for your records. If there isn’t a form to fill out, find a way to self-record the injury. Write down what happened, what body part was injured, when the injury took place, where the injury took place and who witnessed the accident. Your immediate recollections of the injury are the best record of what happened.
This can make it easier to prove that your injuries were caused by an accident at work as opposed to at home or anywhere else. Furthermore, choosing to wait to tell your employer about the accident may make it appear as if your injuries aren’t as severe as you claim.
Finally, failing to report the accident right away can make it harder to remember key details about what happened. This could be used against you during the workers’ compensation claim process or during a personal injury lawsuit.
If for whatever reason you’re unable to report the injury right away, don’t think that you are barred from bringing a claim. The statute of limitations on reporting a workers’ compensation claim is 30 days, but there are a few circumstances which can extend this period. If you’re hurt on the job, report the injury even if you failed to do so immediately.
Mistake #3: Talking about the case with anyone.
Don’t tell your friends, family members or others about the case until it’s closed. If you have to meet with a doctor or anyone else who represents your employer’s interests, only mention the relevant facts of the matter.
These facts might include the time of the incident, why it happened, and the steps you took to seek treatment afterward. It’s never a good idea to talk about how you feel or anything else that may be more subjective in nature as it could be used against you.
Mistake #4: Avoiding treatment.
It’s important that you seek treatment for your injuries as soon as possible. This is true even if it means you have to leave work to do so. However, unless it’s an emergency, don’t try and seek immediate medical attention without first reporting the incident to your employer.
When someone is injured on the job, they have a right to receive medical treatment for that body part, paid for by the insurance carrier. If you have reported your injury, you may be able to immediately see a doctor. A doctor will be able to start a file that will provide details about your injuries and what caused them. Additionally, the doctor may be able to put you on a treatment plan designed to help you recover quickly.
Mistake #5: Hiding previous injuries.
If you had a previous injury and aggravated that condition at work, it may still fall under workers’ compensation. This insurance covers employees who are hurt at work, including reinjuring a body part that was already hurt.
Be honest about your previous conditions. It will not benefit you if you aren’t forthcoming about the prior injury.
Mistake #6: Ignoring a doctor’s treatment plan.
Follow the treatment plan your doctor comes up with. Failing to do so could be seen as a sign that you aren’t hurt as badly as you claim. It could also be used by your employer as a reason to not pay for lost wages or other costs incurred after an accident.
Generally speaking, a treatment plan could restrict how much you can carry or how long you can exert yourself at any given time. It may also place a limit on your ability to drive or how many hours that you can work in a day or week.
Mistake #7: Worrying about who is to blame.
Workers’ compensation is a no-fault liability system. This means there doesn’t have to be negligence on anyone else’s part for you to recover. In fact, even if the accident was your fault, you may be able to recover under workers’ compensation.
Mistake #8: Navigating the workers’ compensation
There are many rules and regulations in the workers’ compensation sphere. Many of them are quite confusing and some are extremely time sensitive. The insurance company and their lawyers know the in’s and out’s of this landscape.
It’s important to hire an attorney to help with your case as he or she will have an understanding of workers’ compensation law in Georgia. Furthermore, an attorney may be able to help you with what not to say to a workers’ comp doctor, insurance adjuster or other individuals. In some cases, your attorney will file a lawsuit just to make sure that you don’t accidentally allow a statute of limitations to expire.
Following the advice of your attorney and your doctor is the best way to obtain a favorable outcome in your work injury case. Let Gerber & Holder Workers’ Compensation Attorneys fight this battle for you!