Workplace injuries are commonplace in certain industries. This is especially true if you work in a labor-intensive job, where a single mistake by a colleague could lead to severe injuries. However, many workers do not know what to do if they suffer a work injury.
Knowing which mistakes to avoid can have a significant impact on your compensation. While an attorney can help you pursue compensation, workers make common mistakes that decrease the potential of a fair settlement.
Worker’s compensation schemes are designed to help employees who are injured on the job. However, navigating workers’ compensation without the help of an experienced lawyer can often be too complex for most employees.
What is a Work Injury?
A work injury occurs on the job and within the worker’s scope of duties. Any injuries a worker suffers intentionally due to intoxication or foregoing the use of required safety equipment are exempt.
Workers’ compensation is available to employees to help them recover medical bills, disability coverage, and lost income.
However, if you claim workers’ compensation, you cannot sue your employer for injuries.
What Are the Common Mistakes People Make After Suffering a Work Injury?
So, what are some of the common mistakes that people make after suffering a work-related injury? Let us find out:
Not Reporting the Injury
Workers’ most common mistake is not immediately reporting the injury to their employer. In some states, you must report the injury to your supervisor or employer within 10 days, while others allow up to 30 days.
Some states grant you up to 90 days to make a report if the injury occurs due to an occupational disease.
While there are exceptions to these time limits, failure to comply can put you at risk of losing your worker’s compensation claim for non-compliance.
It is not worth suffering an injury and losing time and income while fighting compensation as you defend a delayed report.
Remember, most employees are already suspicious of work-related injury claims and are always looking out for false reports. Any delay can bring your integrity into question.
Even if you are not physically injured, it is critical to report it immediately. In some cases, workplace injuries may not manifest physically until a few days have passed. So, if you feel the pain, report it immediately.
Most employees fear that reporting an injury will put their job at risk.
However, reporting even minor accidents can help you if the condition worsens. It can also make the claims process more efficient as tracking your injury’s timeline is easier.
Not Disclosing Previous Workplace Injuries
Another common mistake workers make is failing to disclose any previous workplace injuries. Most workers are concerned that reporting previous injuries may cost them the job. However, failure to report such injuries could cost your workers’ compensation.
Failure to report any previous injuries is considered fraud. In such cases, you will lose compensation and may be forced to repay any settlement you received.
You must be transparent when filing medical reports or speaking to an insurance adjuster by disclosing all information about previous injuries, even if the current injury has no connection to your previous injuries.
If you do not disclose this information, an employer can deny your claim and label your injury as a pre-existing condition. Your employer can argue a major contributing cause resulting in a lengthy claims process.
Failure To Document Injuries
You must obtain a medical evaluation immediately after you suffer an injury in the workplace. One of the most common mistakes workers make is failing to document their injuries. Medical records reflect your injuries and act as evidence.
If your injuries resulted from an accident at work, take photographs of the scene. Workers usually try to clean up the area, losing valuable evidence.
Always take pictures to document the accident scene and help your employer make necessary changes to make the workstation safer for other employees.
Not Reporting All Injuries
Another common mistake workers make is failure to report all their injuries. For instance, if you fall at work, sustain significant damage to your head, and hurt your elbow, you must disclose both injuries.
Failure to report a secondary injury makes you look like you are committing fraud by claiming more than what is fair.
In addition, disclosing all your injuries helps you seek early treatment to avoid long-term complications such as pain, trauma, loss of motor functions, and blurry vision, among others.
Not Returning to Work Soon Enough
Another common mistake people make is avoiding going back to work. Even if the salary is lower, turning down an offer of employment can also be considered forfeiting revenue.
In this case, not only can you lose further benefits and compensation, but your employer can also terminate your employment for refusal to work. Even if you are unsure that you can perform your duties, you must try.
If it is clear that the scope of the job is beyond your restrictions, you can then claim your inability to work.
Fortunately, if the new position pays less than 80% of your previous income, you can apply for wage loss benefits.
Overstating the Impact of Injuries
Overstating the impact of your injuries can significantly hurt your claim. Most healthcare providers, judges, and insurance adjusters can tell immediately when you are exaggerating your injuries.
Limping exaggeratedly to prove your injuries could backfire and result in your employer denying your claim. Workers must be honest about the full extent of their injuries to recover compensation.
You must prove that the injuries have negatively impacted your life and that you are entitled to your rightful benefits.
Signing Documents or Agreements Without Consulting an Attorney
After an injury in the workplace, employers are just as concerned as you are about your claim.
They are likely to make you an offer to pay as little as possible to minimize the financial impact of your claim on the company’s profits.
An employer, their lawyer, or an insurance company may ask you to sign documents or agreements that limit their exposure or absolve them of liability.
You should never sign any documents without having your attorney review them first.
Signing any documents or agreements without your lawyer present could limit your compensation and take away the chance to file a lawsuit in the future.
Talking About the Case with Other Parties
You should never discuss your case with anyone, including your family or friends until it is closed. Even if you are meeting with a healthcare professional, you should only mention the facts relevant to your treatment.
Discuss facts such as the time of the incident and steps to recovery. Avoid talking about your feelings or making any subjective statements that can be used against you.
Not Engaging a Lawyer for Representation
The biggest mistake workers make after suffering an injury in the workplace is trying to represent themselves.
While it is legal to represent yourself, filing a workers’ compensation claim without the help of an experienced lawyer can affect your chances of getting a fair settlement.
Your employer or their insurance company is likely to hire legal help or consult with the legal department, and so should you.
Despite what they tell you, the insurance company will try to protect their best interests by paying you as little as possible and making it difficult for you to file a lawsuit.
Navigating the law around workers’ compensation cases is also complex. There are laws regarding employer claims, medical treatment, and insurance companies that only an experienced lawyer can help you understand.
Even if your case appears straightforward, consult a lawyer to protect your best interests. The insurance company’s lawyer is experienced, and what seems like a clear-cut case may have many loopholes that they can use to put you at a disadvantage.
Hiring an experienced lawyer to represent your interests ensures your claim is taken seriously. Your lawyer will also be familiar with the tricks insurance attorneys use to try and manipulate the case to compromise your claim.
In some states, workers’ compensation laws are highly complex. Some states have an independent organization to oversee and interpret these laws. It is critical to have a knowledgeable lawyer on your side.
What Damage Does Workers’ Compensation Cover?
Several avenues allow you to pursue workers’ compensation. These include:
- Wage replacement
- Medical treatment
- Vocational rehabilitation
- Other benefits
An experienced attorney can help you analyze the sub-categories under each of the above avenues for which you can claim compensation. Some damages you can pursue include:
- Lost wages
- Medical expenses
- Disability costs
- Lost earning capacity
What If You Do Not Qualify for Workers’ Compensation?
If you work for an employer who does not subscribe to workers’ compensation, you may not be qualified to file a claim. However, you can recover damages caused by your injuries by filing a personal lawsuit against your employer.
A work injury attorney can help you investigate your case and file a lawsuit against the liable party.
The workers’ injury claims process is often complex, and pursuing a claim caused by negligence in the workplace can be challenging.
You may be worried about your job security once you file a claim and any life-long complications that might arise from the injury.
A workers’ compensation lawyer can help you navigate the complex process and put your mind at ease. They can negotiate with the insurance lawyers and represent you in court to ensure your concerns are addressed and you receive a fair settlement.
If you have suffered a work injury, get in touch with an experienced personal injury lawyer to determine your options.