When you got hired, your job training prepared you to accomplish tasks and solve problems related to your position. Unfortunately, your employer probably didn’t tell you what to expect or what to do if you got hurt on the job. Following a workplace accident, it’s up to you to take your health into your own hands and file a workers’ compensation claim. In such a complex system, it’s difficult to know if you’re making good choices – or if you’re making workers’ comp mistakes that could destroy your claim.
At the Law Office of Gerald Brody & Associates, we’ve put together a list of common mistakes we see injured employees make so you can avoid them.
1. Failing to report your injury immediately
It’s important to notify your employer of your injury as soon as possible following your accident. There may be instructions in your employee manual for reporting injuries. If there isn’t, it’s best to let everyone know – including your supervisors, co-workers, and human resources manager. Failing to report your injury as soon as it happens could compromise your benefits.
2. Filing your workers’ compensation claim late
Telling your employer about your injury isn’t the same as filing a workers’ compensation claim. Your employer should give you a DWC-1 claim form within one business day of when you reported your injury. You need to fill out the employee section of this form and return it to your employer within 30 days of your injury. You may lose your right to workers’ compensation – including medical benefits and wage loss benefits – if you file your claim late.
3. Allowing your employer to choose your physician
In California, your employer is legally entitled to choose your treating physician to diagnose your injuries. However, many injured employees aren’t aware that they don’t have to continue seeing this initial doctor beyond their first visit. Your employer should give you a list of preapproved doctors specializing in work-related injuries, called a medical provider network (MPN), you can choose from.
4. Failing to follow through with treatment
No one likes going to the doctor, but it’s crucial to attend every scheduled appointment with your medical providers. If you fail to follow through with treatment and you are receiving wage loss benefits, the insurance company or its lawyer may file an application to suspend your weekly benefits. If your benefits are suspended, it can take a very long time to have them reinstated.
5. Not requesting a second opinion
You have a right to disagree with your treating physician’s diagnosis and treatment plan for your work-related injuries. Many injured employers aren’t aware that they are entitled to seek a second and even third opinion from other doctors within their medical provider network. If you still disagree your diagnosis or treatment after getting a third opinion, you can request an independent medical review (IMR).
6. Not consulting a workers’ comp attorney
A lot of injured employees are hesitant to speak with a workers’ comp attorney about their claims. Some worry that they’ll end up with less money if they hire an attorney. While it’s true that a lawyer will likely get a portion of your settlement, it’s also true that an experienced lawyer can dramatically increase your benefits. Represented workers almost always receive more money even after legal fees are paid.
Were you injured on the job? Don’t make these mistakes.
The workers’ comp system is full of pitfalls that can easily derail your claim and prevent you from getting the benefits you need. A workers’ comp lawyer can help you file the proper forms on time and guide you towards the right choices for the best possible outcome.
Contact the attorneys at the Law Office of Gerald Brody & Associates to schedule your free consultation. There are no up-front fees or out-of-pocket costs for representation. What do you have to lose? Call us today at (619) 528-9800.