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Don'ts To Follow If You're Planning To File A Workers' Compensation Claim

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If you get hurt on the job, state law entitles you to benefits to cover your medical expenses and part of your lost wages provided you file a workers' compensation claim. Still, benefits aren't always easy to get. With more than 3 million nonfatal workplace accidents and illnesses reported by private industry employers each year, it's important to know your workers' compensation rights. That includes knowing what NOT to do when you file a claim.

  • Don't put off going to a doctor or hospital emergency room if you get injured at work. Although you need to get your injuries treated, you also must begin establishing a paper trail. If your case goes to court, you will need documentation that provides details relating to your injury. It's called evidence, and having it increases your chances of winning.

  • Don't use your own medical insurance when you seek treatment, even if you have employer-sponsored health coverage. If you file a claim with your health insurance, you may as well say your injury isn't work related—and your employer will.

  • Don't believe everything your employer tells you. The company can't fire you for filing a workers' comp claim. That's the law.

    An accident report gives you the documentation you need to prove you were injured at work. If your injury prevents you from doing your job in the future, your employer can fire you then if you don't have a record of the accident report.

  • Don't let the company be negligent in its duties. Make certain your employer files the claim within the time period allowed. Time limits vary by state.

    The accident report should include the date and time the incident occurred, as well as descriptions of both the accident and the injury you sustained. Ask your employer for a copy of the report.

    It's your responsibility to report the injury to your employer immediately. Even if your injury doesn't seem bad at first, it could get worse later.

  • Don't give the insurance company adjuster a recorded statement without having an experienced workers compensation attorney present. Insurance companies try to find reasons to deny claims or reduce the settlements. Anything you say when giving a statement could be used against you.

    Once your lawyer advises you, give a brief statement. Avoid offering unnecessary information.

  • Don't elect to go back to work on light duty if you're not up to it. No matter how much you need your full paycheck, you could make your injury worse.

    If you return to your job on light duty, have your treating physician clearly document any physical restrictions your employer should be aware of. That way, your boss can't fire you for not performing work tasks your doctor advises you not to do because of your injury.

  • Don't sign paperwork that states you are fully recovered from your injuries until your doctor says you are. Otherwise, your employer can terminate your workers' compensation benefits.