When honest and innocent people are injured in the course of their work, they assume that workers’ compensation insurance will automatically cover their lost wages and medical expenses. The hard reality is that insurers are looking for any reason to deny a claim, and just one small mistake can cause the entire claim to be rejected. What steps can you take to strengthen your case and get the benefits you need?
Don’t wait to report your injury
If you don’t report your injury right away, this gives the insurer a reason to say that it wasn’t serious. And if you are fired or laid off and only then report the injury or file a claim, it might look like a simple act of revenge against the company. Work-related injuries should be reported to both coworkers and your employer, and it is important to give everyone the same account about how the injury occurred. It is vital that your account of the accident is told consistently to employees, management, and medical personnel; inconsistencies, even small ones, can hurt your case. Seek medical attention, and see a company-approved doctor if possible or required.
Document the injury
An injury without witnesses gives insurers a lot of leverage to deny a claim, as there is no one to support your version of what happened. There may be no witnesses, but if there are, they can go a long way in substantiating your case. Get written statements from them as soon as possible. Submit an accident report with your employer. Take pictures of the area where the injury occurred, and do this before anything has changed. Save and organize all of your medical records.
Cooperate with the insurer
While you are not legally required to do so, refusing to give a written statement to the insurer can provide them with a reason to say that they cannot move forward with the case. And insurers often ask that the injured person sign a release that allows them to obtain medical records and bills. While the employee is not obligated to do this – the employee can get his own records and send them to the insurer – insurance companies generally prefer to get this information directly so that they know they are getting all related material. Understandably, you may be hesitant to release your medical records to an insurer, as insurance companies could get information that is not connected to your injury.
Consult an attorney
Insurers frequently deny legitimate claims. Navigating these legal waters is difficult, and one misstep could put your entire case at risk. If you have suffered a work-related injury, don’t try to go it alone. An attorney experienced in workers’ compensation cases can provide invaluable help in fighting for your rights and getting the compensation you deserve.