17 Common Mistakes to Avoid So You Don’t Ruin Your Workers’ Compensation Claim
If you’ve been hurt at work and you are reading articles about workers’ compensation, you will find out a lot about the things that you can do to protect your benefits. These articles are important and can provide you with valuable information for getting the compensation that you deserve.
But You Also Need to Know What Mistakes to Avoid
Some of the common mistakes that hurt workers’ recoveries are often avoidable if you know your rights. Accordingly, our workers’ compensation lawyers encourage you not to make the following mistakes:
Failing to report your injuries to your employer.
You have a limited amount of time to tell your employer about the accident that led to your injury.
Failing to get medical attention.
This is important both to your physical recovery and to your workers’ compensation claim.
Assuming that a doctor is an authorized healthcare provider.
Only certain doctors and healthcare providers are authorized to treat workers’ compensation injuries. Your employer should provide you with the name(s) of authorized physicians.
Assuming that you don’t have a workers’ compensation claim because you were on a work break at the time you were hurt.
Some workers who are hurt while on work breaks will be eligible for workers’ compensation and others will be ineligible. Whether you can make a successful claim depends on the unique facts of your case.
Filing your claim too late.
Your time to file a workers’ compensation case is limited by state law in both Georgia and South Carolina.
Filing an inaccurate or incomplete application.
This may cause your claim to be denied or delayed.
Trusting that the insurance adjuster is looking out for your best interests.
The insurance adjuster is looking out for the insurance company and the insurance company profits by paying you as little as possible.
Assuming that your health insurance will compensate you for your injury and that a workers’ compensation is irrelevant.
Your health insurance may not cover all of your medical bills—especially if you have a high deductible—and it will not cover your other expenses such as lost income.
Accepting that you do not have a claim because you have a pre-existing condition.
You may have a valid workers’ compensation case if you were hurt on the job and you are currently unable to work because the aggravation of your pre-existing condition makes you unable to work. Employers and insurance companies may try to argue that you are unable to work because of your underlying condition and not because of the aggravation of that injury caused by your workplace accident. Thus, you will need evidence that your injury was aggravated, and you will need to persuade the insurance company, hearing officer, or judge that you are unable to work because of your on-the-job accident in order to recover workers’ compensation.
Accepting your doctor’s recommendations without question.
Unfortunately, some doctors who are authorized healthcare providers for workers’ compensation in Georgia and South Carolina do not provide honest recommendations about their patients’ ability to return to work. They may be motivated to remain on the list of authorized healthcare providers and, thus, sympathetic to the needs of the insurance companies and employers. If you believe that you cannot safely return to work or that returning to work causes you too much pain, you should get a second opinion. Returning to work too soon may not only hurt your workers’ compensation claim but it could also cause you considerable pain and harm your physical recovery.
Accepting the insurance company’s valuation of your average weekly wage without question.
In Georgia, your average weekly wage is typically determined by taking the average of your earnings for the thirteen weeks leading up to the accident. In South Carolina, your average weekly wage is determined by taking the average of your earnings for the four quarters preceding the quarter in which you were hurt. In both states, your average weekly wage is subject to a maximum amount set by law. You want to make sure that everything, including wages, tips, stipends, bonuses, benefits, and lodging, car, or other allowances, is included when calculating your average weekly wage.
Failing to understand how applying for Social Security disability impacts your workers’ compensation claim.
In some cases, Social Security disability may be important for you. However, in some cases Social Security disability can interfere with your workers’ compensation claim.
Failing to follow your doctor’s orders.
Insurance companies want to profit by paying out as little as possible on your workers’ compensation claim. Accordingly, they may visit your Facebook or other social media accounts or they may hire an investigator to follow you around. If you follow your doctor’s orders and you are not engaging in activities that are inconsistent with your work restrictions or injuries, you have nothing to worry about with this surveillance. However, if you fail to follow your doctor’s orders or you are acting in a manner that is inconsistent with your stated injuries, you could significantly harm your chances of recovering fair workers’ compensation benefits.
Failing to keep good records of your injury, treatment, and the impact of our injury on your life.
This will be important information in your workers’ comp case.
Agreeing to a settlement without having it reviewed by an attorney.
Once you agree to a settlement, it is binding and you will not recover additional compensation in the future.
Failing to recognize that you have a potential third party claim.
If you were in a car accident while working, for example, you could have a potential personal injury claim against a negligent driver who hurt you. Additionally, if you were hurt by a defective product at work, you could have a claim against that product’s manufacturer. Accordingly, it is important to talk to an attorney about all of your possible claims.
Failing to recognize that you need an experienced workers’ compensation attorney.
A lawyer can make sure that all of your rights are protected and that you get the benefits you deserve.
While these mistakes are serious, they are not inevitable.
Protect Your Workers’ Compensation Claim Now
Recovering fair compensation after you’ve been hurt at work is not just about avoiding certain mistakes. It is also important that you take certain steps immediately after you’ve been hurt on the job so that you can get the fair and just benefits you deserve.
Have You Been Injured At Work?
If you’ve been injured on the job you need to speak with an experienced workers’ compensation lawyer as soon as possible. Contact us online or call our Augusta office directly at 706.863.6600 to schedule your free consultation.