Insurance companies love it when you don't report the injury at work. It lets them question whether the injury even happened, or whether it happened at work. And it lets them delay your workers comp benefits and medical treatment while they investigate the claim.
If you get hurt at work, tell a supervisor. If your company has an incident or accident report, fill it out and give it to them - and make sure to get a copy.
Rely on your employer to "take care of you."
Workers compensation is about protecting your future rights - your ability to earn a living for your family and get the medical treatment you need for your injuries.
Even well meaning employers don't know the ins and outs of workers compensation laws - and can kill your case (if you let them) by not filing the proper forms for you or giving you well meant, but wrong, advice. And most companies have a large workers compensation insurance company your case is turned over to - that insurance company has no duty to you.
Don't tell your doctor you got hurt on the job.
Many people go to the emergency room and tell the doctor "I hurt my back" or "I fell and hurt my knee" - and that helps the doctor diagnose the injury. But if it happened at work, say so. Tell the doctor, nurse, or anyone taking a history that you hurt your back lifting a generator at work or slipped on grease changing a bus tire at work and banged your knee.
Be specific. It will save time and expense. When insurance companies get medical reports that don't indicate you told the doctor you got hurt at work, they delay (or in some cases deny) claims.
Go to the employer's "work injury clinic"
You get hurt on the job and report it to your supervisor - so far so good. But the foreman says, "we have a company doctor (or a workers comp doctor, or a worker's clinic) and you have to go see that doctor. Everyone hurt on the job goes to this clinic. Its free. Its convenient.
Every injured worker is entitled to proper medical care from an appropriate specialist. In D.C. and Maryland, you can choose your own physician. In Virginia, you can choose from a panel of 3 physicians in your area.
Choose a physician who will have your best interests at heart - not one who relies on insurance companies to send him patients.
Don't file claim forms with the proper workers compensation agency.
Maybe the insurance company is paying your benefits and medical treatment. You reported it to your supervisor and they said they'd take care of it - maybe you even signed some forms.
Not good enough. Every local jurisdiction has a government department or workers compensation commission injured workers must file their claims with - and within specified time frames.
Additional resources provided by the author
For more information on workers compensation benefits, call the lawyers of Donahoe Kearney, LLP at 202-393-3320.
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