You just had an accident at work. You’re in pain and it hurts to move. On top of that, you can’t think straight and when you do, your mind is full of worry. “What is going to happen?” “How will I support myself and family?” These are only some of the questions – but you have to make many important decisions quickly. The stack of paperwork that you have to complete is daunting and everyone has advice for you, none of it the same. It is easy to become overwhelmed and to end up making what you thought was a simple decision that can hurt your compensation claim. Here is a short list of what NOT to do when you are hurt at work:
1. DO NOT FAIL TO SEEK IMMEDIATE MEDICAL ATTENTION
If your injuries are serious, you should go to a hospital emergency room or urgent care facility as soon as possible. Even if you don’t think your injury is important enough for a visit to the doctor or if you are wary of the cost of treatment, it is important that you see a doctor soon after your accident. Being examined by a doctor right after your accident is often the key to getting compensation in the future – especially since your injuries may develop or worsen over time. Remember, workers’ compensation covers medical treatment including any appointments or medications related to the accident.
2. DO NOT SIGN INSURANCE CARRIER MEDICAL RELEASES
In the early stages of your claim, you may receive a lot of paperwork from your employer’s workers’ compensation insurance company. The insurance company may indicate that you are required to fill out many forms. You should speak to us before doing so. One of the forms the insurance company often request that you sign are medical release forms. By signing these forms, you are giving the carrier access to your entire medical history. The insurance company then digs through your medical records in an effort to connect your injury to a pre-existing condition instead of the workplace accident you just suffered. Do not sign there until you speak to a lawyer. Often times, you will eventually be required to sign a limited medical release but you should not provide any releases until you are directed to so by a Law Judge
3. DO NOT LET YOUR EMPLOYER OR ITS CARRIER PICK YOUR DOCTOR
Except in very limited situations, your employer cannot insist that you see a specific doctor. The insurance company cannot pick your treating doctor for you either. For the most part, you have the right to see any doctor so long as they are coded by the workers’ compensation board and accept workers’ compensation insurance. In fact, you also have the right change your doctor later in your case if you wish to do so.
4.DO NOT LET AN INSURANCE COMPANY REPRESENTATIVE ACCOMPANY YOU TO YOUR MEDICAL APPOINTMENTS
After your accident, the insurance company may assign a nurse case manager to your claim. While it may seem that this nurse is there to facilitate your care, she is not. These people try to
gauge the extent of your medical condition in order to advise the insurance company. They may try to ask you about your injuries, your treatment and your recovery. They may also try to convince you to allow them to go with you to your doctor. Do not let them go and do not discuss your injury with them.
5. DO NOT TALK TO THE INSURANCE CARRIER’S EXAMINER OR REPRESENTATIVE
In the early stages of your claim, a claims examiner from the insurance company may contact you. He or she is not your friend and does not have your best interest at heart. They are trained to sound professional and sympathetic when they talk to you about your injury. But despite how compassionate they may sound, their job is to save the insurance company money. You are not required to talk to them and you should not.
6. DO NOT HANDLE YOUR CLAIM BY YOURSELF
These are only some of the more common mistakes that injured workers make in the early stages of their claim. The workers’ compensation system is complicated and confusing. By trying to handle your claim by yourself, you may be hurting yourself even further. In fact, lawyers who do not specialize in workers’ compensation often have very little idea of how to properly handle such claims. We have been fighting for injured workers for over 50 years. Workers’ compensation is our expertise and our passion. If you or those you care about suffer a workplace injury, call us so that we can help. Remember, no lawyer is allowed to charge you out of pocket for representing you in a comp claim. Lawyers are only paid, if you receive an indemnity award from the insurance company.
If you have any questions or would like to discuss your claim further, please call us at (516) 249-1342.
You can also follow us on Twitter at @GreyGreyLLP and check out our website at www.greyandgrey.com.