If you’ve ever been hurt at work, then you know how bad it can be. Lost work, lost wages and doctor bills – it all adds up fast. You need good medical care. You need your bills paid.
What you do after you get hurt is as important as how you got hurt in the first place. People often make mistakes that affect their compensation. Here are five tips to help you make sure you get your due.
1. Get medical care
Your health is the most important issue in any accident. Make sure to get medical treatment for your injury. Then, consult an attorney about your situation for instructions. Make sure to get a copy of your medical records – you will need them later. Also, keep your own records including the date, time, and nature of the injury and a list of witnesses and to whom you reported it. That way, you have a back-up if you ever need it.
2. Notify your employer
You must notify your employer of a work injury within 120 days of the accident, even if you think might not miss work or need immediate medical care. Once you do this, your employer has 21 days to accept or deny the claim, or be subject to penalties.
Keep in mind that you must inform a manager or supervisor about the injury. Just telling a fellow employee is not considered notification.
Under some circumstances, the 120 day limit does not begin to run until you know, or should know of the existence of an injury and its possible relationship to the employment. For example, you may suffer a repetitive motion injury such as carpal tunnel or back strain but immediately be aware of it.
3. Get a lawyer
Your employer will have experienced legal counsel on their side – so should you. Here are some red flags that signal when it’s time to consult an attorney:
4. Do not sign documents or give a statement
Never sign anything or give a statement to your employer before you talk with a lawyer. This applies both before and after you file your initial claim. Also, inform your attorney of any attempt to pressure you to make a statement or sign a document.
5. File for benefits:
If you get hurt at work, your may be entitled to unemployment benefits, disability benefits or social security benefits. However, getting approved for workers’ compensation, does not mean that you are automatically you are approved for other benefits. You will need to file separately for each of these. Your attorney should advise you how to do this.
Also, make sure to disclose all of your sources of income to your attorney, as these may affect your benefits. Other sources of income may include other employment, disability policies and pension benefits.
As a special note regarding pension benefits, your employer is only entitled to a credit to the extent that it contributed to that pension. Sometimes that amount can be complicated to determine, especially if the employer is a government entity or municipality. If you are considering retirement and getting a pension, you should always consult your lawyer to determine the potential impact on your benefits.
What information should you bring to your first meeting?
Your lawyer is your ally and guide through the process. Make sure you arm them with all the information they need to fight for you. When you go to your first, meeting, make sure that you bring the following information:
People often ask me what it will cost to pursue their workers’ compensation case. Most cases cost about $50.00 to $100.00 out of pocket to obtain medical records regarding your medical treatment. These can rise if doctors’ depositions are required or transcripts by court reporters have to be prepared.
Making workers’ compensation work for you:
Hopefully, your work life will be injury free, and you will never need to avail yourself of workers’ compensation benefits. However, if you get hurt at work, remember, you family have a right to fair compensation.
If you have any questions about your workers’ compensation benefits, give me a call. My team of workers’ compensation experts will fight for you and your family. We’ll make sure that your workers’ compensation works for you.