Your worker’s comp claim should never be taken lightly
Here are 5 common mistakes to avoid after an injury at work.
An accidental misstep near a large gap. A dangling light everyone thought would never fall. The creaky elevator that always pulled through…until it didn’t.
These and other safety risks can lead to a serious injury at work. And when that occurs, you’re entitled to certain benefits. The problem is, injured workers often make mistakes that can jeopardize their workers’ comp claims or even cause them more injury in the long run.
How can you know which mistakes to avoid?
Well, you’ve come to the right place. At Law Office of Brian D. Tadros, P.A., we’ve seen firsthand the trouble that workers’ comp mistakes can cause and we’re here to help so that you get the best outcome from your case.
Mistake #1: Waiting Too Long To Mention It
You don’t have an unlimited amount of time to report an injury at work. Florida law requires that you report your injury within 30 days of the date of the injury, your knowledge of the injury, or a doctor’s determination that you have been injured. Failure to report in a timely manner can run you the risk of a claim denial.
Even if you consider your work injury as “minor,” it’s always better to report it than do nothing. Waiting to see if your injury improves not only threatens your workers’ comp claim, it threatens your recovery as well.
Report the injury to your employer (and the insurance company) and request authorization to see your authorized treating physician as soon as possible. This gives you the best chance of receiving your workers’ comp benefits so you can realize a timely, thorough recovery.
Mistake #2: Seeing an Unauthorized Doctor
After an injury at work, it’s important to see a medical professional for treatment as soon as possible. But not so fast! Under Florida law, your employer’s workers’ comp insurance company has the right to choose your authorized treating physician.
Once your employer has forwarded your injury report to their insurance company, you will be notified of the name of the doctor that will be handling your treatment. While you are allowed a one-time change of physician as well as a one-time visit to an Independent Medical Examiner (IME) if you want a second opinion.
There are certain exceptions, however, where you can choose your own doctor:
- You require emergency care;
- The insurance company does not respond to your request for specific treatment in a reasonable amount of time;
- The insurance company has a “managed care arrangement” for worker’s compensation claims, in which case you may choose an in-network doctor;
- You request a one-time change in treating physicians and the insurance company does not provide the name of the new doctor within five days.
Otherwise, you will be required to follow your treating physician’s advice to the letter if you want to continue receiving your workers’ comp payments.
Mistake #3: Rushing Through The Report
We know, no one likes doing paperwork.
But when you are filing your injury report or talking to your doctor, it pays to be as detailed and descriptive as possible. Include any detail, no matter how insignificant it might seem to you, and keep your story consistent each time you tell it.
If your version of events differs from report to report, your employers may suspect you are attempting to defraud them, which can lead to denial of your benefits and a trail to determine whether you have committed misrepresentation/insurance fraud. If your employer wins, you’re looking at a hefty fine and up to 30 years in jail (in addition to losing out on your workers’ comp checks).
Mistake #4: Seeing An Injury At Work As A “Get Out Of Jail Free” Card
In some cases, your workplace injury will require you to focus on rest and recovery from the comfort of your couch. But an injury at work isn’t an excuse to hide out from work.
If you don’t want to jeopardize your workers’ comp claim, you have to follow your physician’s directions exactly. If s/he has cleared you to return to work (with or without restrictions), you must accept any appropriate position your employer offers you.
Employers cannot legally fire you as revenge for filing for worker’s compensation, but refusing to go back to work or giving them sloppy work will give them an excuse to legally let you go.
Mistake #5: Not Hiring a Workers’ Comp Attorney
Some people believe that hiring legal help is expensive, so it can be tempting to wage your legal battle yourself to “save a few bucks.” That isn’t the case with hiring a workers’ compensation attorney.
Workers’ compensation cases are handled on a contingency fee basis, which means that it doesn’t cost you anything out-of-pocket to hire an attorney. They get paid if/when they obtain something for you, whether that be at trial (in which case the employer/insurance company has to pay their fee) or a settlement, in which case part of the settlement funds go toward the attorney’s fee and costs.
We can all but guarantee you that your employer or the insurance company has a team of legal and medical resources at their disposal to support their side of the case. And, because this is a civil matter, you don’t get the criminal court benefit of an assigned lawyer.
Cases where one side represents themselves rarely win, and (regardless of how strong your case is) lawyers are trained professionals.
You can’t expect to do their job just because you binge-watched Suits.
What To Do After an Injury At Work
If you’ve been injured on the job, you’re likely feeling confused, overwhelmed, and in pain. But don’t let that be an excuse for making one of these common workers’ comp mistakes.
To get the best results from your workers’ comp claim, file a report and see your authorized treating physician as soon as possible, complete your paperwork and medical treatments thoroughly and consistently, and schedule a free consultation with a workers’ comp attorney like Brian D. Tadros.
Working with a workers’ comp attorney gives you the best chance of receiving every dollar you are entitled to and realizing a quick, thorough recovery from your injuries.