If you are hurt on the job it is essential to always report the injury to your employer and to fill out an incident report. It is important that you are aware of certain things that may affect your worker’s compensation claim. Following these tips may help you protect your rights and claim.
Why See a Doctor Immediately After Your Injury
It is important to see a doctor immediately after the injury happened, even if the pain or discomfort is not severe. Don’t assume that just because you don’t feel excruciating pain right away that you are not injured. It could take a few weeks before the minor pain develops into something more severe and has made you disabled. It is beneficial to go to a doctor office’s right after the incident so the doctor can document the painful areas of your body. If you choose not to go to the doctor’s office right away, the insurance adjuster may argue that the failure to see a doctor immediately after the injury indicates that the injury must have occurred somewhere else and not on the job. The doctor’s documentation will help prove to the insurance company that the injuries did in fact occur at the workplace.
Documentation is the key element to keeping an insurance company on their toes. Write down everything you can remember about the incident itself. Be sure to keep all receipts from out-of-pocket expenses, including co-payments and prescriptions. Keep track of your mileage to and from doctors and therapists and if taking public transportation ensure to save all receipts. You are entitled to be reimbursed by the insurance company for travel to and from doctors. Document your doctor’s visits by marking each medical visit on a calendar. Note how long you were confined to a bed or how long you had to use a wheelchair, walker, crutches, knee brace, neck brace, etc. It is imperative to save all medication bottles to show proof that medication was required for the injury sustained. A picture is worth a thousand words, hence it is worthy to photograph the important aspects of the incident and recreate the scene. Pictures can make a world of a difference between an average settlement and a substantial settlement. Videotaping is also very effective as it shows the complete picture. The insurance company requires proof of lost wages, thus it is essential to document all lost earnings. Be sure to save all paycheck stubs and tax returns. Keep a detailed “pain diary.” When you are in pain, it consumes you, and that is all you can think about – so be sure not to let that get in the way of protecting your rights.
Mistakes an Injured Party Should Avoid in Order to Maximize Their Settlement
- Waiting to see a doctor. The longer the gap is to seek medical treatment, the more difficult it will be to connect the injuries to the incident.
- Missing doctor’s appointments. It would be harmful to your case if you missed doctor’s appointments. By missing a doctor’s appointment you are essentially telling the insurance company that you are not hurting and your injury doesn’t matter that much. Remember, everything is documented by your doctor and if you miss an appointment that is documented too.
- Giving a statement to the insurance company. It is important not to give any statements to the insurance company without first speaking with an attorney. It is common for insurance adjusters to call claimants and try to get a recorded statement before the injured party has the opportunity to consult with an attorney.
- Believing the adjuster is there to help you. They might seem sympathetic, but remember the adjuster is not there to help you. The adjuster would like nothing more than for the injured party to make damaging statements so that the insurance company can deny the claim or pay out minimum money.
For more information about protecting your rights, visit the Resources page.