Being injured on the job can be a difficult time in your life. Workers’ compensation is designed to help make you whole again, but the bureaucracy associated with workers’ compensation claims can be challenging for even the most patient person to navigate. If you’ve been injured on the job, you may be eligible to collect workers’ compensation benefits. However, without an attorney on your side, you may make a mistake that could derail your workers’ compensation claim and adversely affect your ability to collect the benefits you are entitled to.
If you’re not sure how to manage your claim, you need a lawyer. Your attorney will help you avoid the following five pitfalls, and it is valuable information for you to have on hand, as well.
- Not Reporting Your Injury – Many of us have been raised to always be positive, even when we’re injured. But if you don’t report the injury to your employer, your claim could be sunk before it even gets off the ground. Report your injury the moment you are injured. Don’t go home for the weekend, don’t leave work for the night, and don’t downplay your injury. Failure to report your injury could raise suspicion when filing a workers’ compensation claim. The insurance company may believe that you sustained your injury at home or when you were off-duty. Without a report of your injury on file, you may be unable to collect the benefits you deserve. Even if the injury seems small, make sure you report it immediately and document the circumstances under which it occurred.
- Going to the Wrong Doctor – If your employer selects a specific workers’ compensation doctor for you, you have to submit to an exam by that doctor to be eligible for workers’ compensation coverage. If your employer doesn’t select a doctor for you, you can go to any doctor you want, as long as that doctor is qualified to diagnose your injury. You couldn’t, for example, ask your obstetrician to diagnose you with a soft tissue injury. Choosing the right doctor is critical because that doctor will have a huge impact on your physical recovery. He or she will also impact when you return to work, what restrictions you have, and whether you have a permanent disability. Choosing the right doctor will not only help you heal faster but may also directly impact the amount of workers’ compensation benefits you are entitled to.
- Ignoring Work Restrictions – If your doctor places specific restrictions on the type of work you can and can’t do, you need to follow these restrictions. If your doctor places you on work restrictions and your employer can accommodate those restrictions, go to work even if working is uncomfortable. Not returning to work could terminate some or all of the workers’ compensation benefits that you are receiving and could cause you to lose your job. If you are really uncomfortable performing work duties or if you are in pain, contact your doctor immediately to revise the restrictions they’ve placed you on.
- Not Receiving a Second Opinion – You have a right to a second opinion if you disagree with your authorized treating physician’s diagnosis. If you disagree with your doctor’s recommendations, you may be able to change doctors. In Colorado, you are entitled to change doctors one time as long as it’s within 90 days of the injury and you haven’t reached maximum medical improvement. You must choose another provider on your employer’s designated list during this time. If you wish to switch to a doctor of your own choosing, you must obtain approval from the insurance company. While the adjuster is not required to grant this request, they must notify you of their decision within 20 days or you are free to see your own doctor. Stay with your initial doctor and continue treatment until your change has been formally approved. Failing to maintain treatment could adversely affect your workers compensation claim.
- Not Telling the Doctor the Specifics of Your Injury – When it comes to reporting your injuries to your doctor, you shouldn’t just grin and bear it. Minimizing your pain or glossing over the specifics of how you received your injury is a recipe for disaster. If your doctor doesn’t know you’re in pain, he/she has little reason to recommend the right treatment protocol, and this can destroy your claim. Likewise, if your doctor doesn’t know every detail of how you sustained your injury, he/she may incorrectly underestimate the severity of your injury. This can adversely affect your claim, cause you to return to work too soon, or jeopardize your recovery. Always remain truthful with your doctor – no matter what. This will ensure that you do not suffer unnecessary long-term complications and that you obtain the workers’ compensation benefits you need during this time.
The guiding principle when you interact with anyone – doctors, your employer, or the insurance company – is to consider whether what you’re saying will help or hurt your workers’ compensation claim. If you can’t be sure or you have concerns, it’s time to talk to a workers’ compensation attorney. Contact one of the experienced Workers’ Compensation Lawyers at McDivitt Law Firm today to request a FREE consultation.