You may just be entering the most difficult period of your life. But like countless injured workers before you (and countless others to follow), you can make it through. The following are 10 tips you might consider to prepare for what lies ahead.
Consult A Workers' Compensation Attorney For Free
Every year around this time I am reminded why I let a professional prepare my tax return for me. It isn't that I can't prepare it myself--I have done it before. It is that it is complicated, I spend more time on it than I save in money, and a professional will likely obtain a better result than I could on my own. I take my car to a mechanic and allow a barber cut my hair for the same reasons. It is also why injured workers consult workers' compensation attorneys. Professional advise is worth the price you pay, and representation by a work injury lawyer in Glendale is one of the best legal bargains around. There is no fee unless you recover, and the Workers' Compensation Appeals Board must set or approve the fee to be paid, which shall be in a reasonable amount. Even better, most workers' compensation law firms offer free legal consultations, so you can sit down with an attorney and discuss your case in detail at no cost to you.
Keep Your Spirits Up, Think Positively
Countless studies have been conducted on the effect that expectation has on physical recovery, and the results may surprise you. An average of 30% of participating patients who are told that a certain treatment regimen will make them better do actually show some improvement. The catch? The "treatment regimen" is actually a placebo, or sugar pill. In other words, it is not a treatment regimen at all. The patients' health improve because of the expectation that they would, and the reinforcement of that fact by trusted authority figures--their doctors. Clearly then, expectation is a power medicine. But can you trigger the placebo effect on yourself? Not likely, unfortunately. We simply cannot deceive ourselves the same way that a trusted authority figure--our doctor--can. Still, the mind-body connection as a powerful medicine cannot be denied, and doctors have long advised patients to keep their spirits up during recovery. While your claim for workers' compensation is pending before the Workers' Compensation Appeals Board, focus on your well being and leave the details of your claim to your Glendale work injury attorney.
Replace Lost Wages
A workplace injury can leave you earning significantly less or nothing at all during your recovery, and while California workers' compensation does provide for the payment of temporary disability indemnity to injured workers who are unable to work during their period of medical recovery, your payments could be delayed or even denied by your claims administrator. In such a case, you can apply for State Disability Insurance (SDI) benefits from California's Employment Development Department (EDD) while your workers' comp attorney in Glendale works on obtaining payment of temporary disability indemnity. If EDD does issue SDI benefits to you, it will file a lien for repayment against the amount you ultimately recover in your claim.
Try Meditation: "Ohmmmm, Ohmmmm..."
Your workers' compensation claim is stressful, and stress is not only unpleasant--it is potentially harmful to your health. It is important, then, that you find a way to safely alleviate your stress, for the sake of your health and your peace of mind. You might consider giving meditation a try, which is perhaps the most well-known method of evoking relaxation. Meditation can decrease your metabolism, lower your blood pressure, and improve your heart rate. The key is repetitive action--be it a word, sound, mantra, prayer, breathing, or movement. If meditation is not for you, try out some other relaxation techniques.
Confer With A Local Social Security Representative
If you are near retirement age or likely to be totally disabled from work for at least 6 months, contact a local Social Security representative for information on the availability of benefits. If eligible, you could receive California workers' compensation benefits and Social Security benefits concurrently so long as the combined amount does not exceed 80% of your pre-disability "average current earnings." You may also qualify for Supplemental Security Income (SSI), a cash-assistance benefit intended to assure at least a minimum level of income to eligible individuals with limited income and resources.
Do Not Put Your Life On Hold
Your workplace injury and workers' compensation claim can take control of your life if you allow it. Don't allow it. Instead, explore ways to reengage with your life despite the physical pain and the looming of your claim. Physical pain and an unhealthy fixation on your claim can easily hold you back from doing the things you loved to do before your on the job injury, and lead to a vicious cycle of depression and greater physical pain. (Research has found that the brain uses the same areas to register both types of pain--i.e., emotional and physical--which may explain why one exacerbates the other and vice versa.) Thus, as much as your work injury safely permits, do the things that make you happy.
Use Social Media Carefully Or Not At All
Pictures and comments shared on social media outlets like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram are increasingly being used by employers and insurers as evidence in workers' compensation disputes. Even the most innocent of social media activity--when viewed in isolation, and without context--can be damaging to a perfectly legitimate claim. Exercise caution when using social media. Assume that every post, like, tag, tweet, or share can and will be seen by your employer or the insurer, and act accordingly. You might even consider deleting your social media accounts altogether in an abundance of caution, at least until your claim is resolved.
Attend All Of Your Doctors' Appointments
If you miss a doctor's appointment, you jeopardize your physical recovery from the on the job injury, not to mention cause further delay to an already inert delivery of workers' compensation benefits. You also will not be doing yourself any favors with your claims administrator. Record the date, time, and location of your appointments in your calendar or smartphone, and check it daily. If you absolutely cannot make an appointment with your doctor, notify your workers' compensation lawyer as soon as possible so arrangements can be made to reschedule.
Tell The Audit Unit About Things That Are Not Working
The Audit Unit of the Division of Workers' Compensation tracks complaints against workers' compensation claims administrators (i.e., insurers, self-insured employers, and third party administrators) and takes action to ensure that workers' compensation benefits are delivered in accordance with applicable law. The Audit Unit has the authority to assess penalties against claims administrators and order the payment of unpaid compensation. To file a complaint with the Audit Unit, submit an audit referral form and attach supporting documentation.
Limit Your Use Of Opiates
Opiates--known as "pain pills" and "pain killers"--are intended to treat severe short-term (acute) pain that has not responded to other medicines, and in that regard can be a beneficial treatment. But prolonged use of opiates in workers' compensation is closely associated with adverse results and longer periods of disability for injured workers. If you find yourself taking opiates regularly, talk with your doctor about alternative treatments that might reduce your reliance on these medications. Also, consider consulting a specialist to learn how to cope with your pain and improve your overall quality of life.