A work injury can throw everything into upheaval. You may lose hours due to doctor’s visits or physical therapy. There may be days when you can’t work at all. Or, worse, you may never be able to work again.
The injury may threaten your financial future as bills eat into your savings. You still need a roof over your head, food on the table, utilities, and transportation to go to your doctor’s appointments.
There was a time when a worker had nowhere to turn after a debilitating injury, despite unsafe working conditions, crazy hours, and exposure to toxic substances. Worker’s Compensation was designed to correct this wrong, but that doesn’t necessarily mean the insurance company wants to pay your claim.
How do you pay bills while laid up by the injury? How can you ensure that extra costs incurred because of a work-related injury get paid? And how do you make Big Insurance play by the rules so you get a fair settlement?
If there isn’t a written record of the injury, the insurance company may say it was a preexisting condition to avoid paying the claim. The very first step is to make sure you have everything in writing. Here is a handy checklist to create proper documentation of the incident:
- Report the injury to your supervisor and Human Resources. Depending on the severity of the injury, this may happen before or after immediate medical treatment but do it as soon as possible. It is best to send an email so you have a time-stamped copy for your records. Try to include the following:
- Date and time of the incident.
- Circumstances surrounding the injury (what caused or contributed to the accident?).
- Description of the incident. Be as detailed as possible. Our memories can get distorted over time, or we can lose memories. A written record protects you if you end up in court months later. You don’t have to remember details because everything will be written down. You just need to review your notes.
- The names of any witnesses.
- The steps you took immediately after the incident. (Examples include using the eyewash station if you get a contaminant in your eye or being taken to the emergency room by ambulance.)
Do I Need To See A Doctor?
Yes. See a doctor as soon as possible, even for minor injuries. Workers comp should pay for the exam because they want to know the extent of the damage as much as you do. Provide a copy of any discharge paperwork or a report from your physician showing the diagnosis to your employer. Make sure to keep a copy of your paperwork.
Not only is the doctor’s visit essential to support your health and get treatment advice, but it is also corroborating evidence for the source, time, and extent of the injury in the event of a future claim.
What About Out Of Pocket Expenses Before Settlement?
Keep all your receipts for copays, therapy equipment, and other extra costs created by your injury. Make sure everything gets labeled with the purpose of the doctor’s visit or new equipment and how these medical events or health aids affect your injury.
What Do I Do After The Initial Examination?
- Keep a journal related to the injury. Show the effect the injury has on your daily living and your ability to work. Keep notes on critical conversations between you and your employer, your doctor, and your lawyer so you always have everything at your fingertips.
- Follow your doctor’s advice about treatment, including when to return to work. Stick to any limitations they give you regarding your activities. Not only will you be giving yourself the best possible outcome physically, but you will also protect your claim. If you go against the doctor’s advice, the insurance company can claim that the injury is worse because of your negligence. It will shortchange your settlement.
- Get a lawyer. A lawyer can help you expedite your case and ensure that you get the maximum compensation that you are entitled to. Your employer’s insurance company is squarely on your employer’s side, but your attorney will be on your side. They will advocate for you at every step in the process. If you don’t already have a lawyer, you can do an internet search to find a “workers comp attorney near me” or “work-related accident attorney near me.” If you live in the greater Las Vegas area and want a free consultation, contact us HERE.
- Communicate. Once you have an attorney, ensure they are involved and get copies of everything you receive from your employer or the insurance company. A job-related injury attorney can serve you best if they always have the most recent information on your case.