Don’t let these small mistakes keep you from getting the compensation you deserve
The first moments after a work-related injury often revolve around taking care of your immediate health. Soon after that, however, you’ll naturally need to file a claim and begin following your doctor’s treatment plan. While most workers know to take those essential first steps, it’s also easy to get off track in the days and months following the accident.
Workers’ compensation cases can sometimes go on for many months, which leaves a lot of room for mistakes that can affect the outcome of your claim. Below, we’ll discuss some of the top things you shouldn’t do after an injury to ensure you don’t miss your chance at compensation.
1. Downplay your injuries
Most people tend to avoid making a scene at work, and many of the industries that are at higher risk for injuries discourage workers from complaining or acting “weak.” While your first instinct might be to save face, trying to avoid admitting that you’re hurt could cause your injury to seem like no big deal to your employer.
While you don’t necessarily have to create a dramatic scene in front of your coworkers, there is no shame in making it clear that you’re hurt badly enough to require medical attention.
2. Fail to submit a detailed injury report
Filling out a form might be the last thing on your mind when you’re bleeding or in serious pain. But you will want to return to this essential task once your condition has stabilized. In South Carolina, failure to report your injury within 90 days could disqualify you from receiving workers’ comp benefits.
An injury report is one of your first forms of documentation that your accident happened at work. Most employers will have a form available that outlines the details you need to include, and submitting this report in a timely manner helps to protect you if an employer disputes your claim.
3. Delay treatment
Delayed treatment places your health at risk, and it can also complicate your case. An insurance company may question the severity of your injury if they see that you took days to visit a doctor. Or they might even suggest that you developed the injury elsewhere.
Seeing a medical professional as soon as possible after the accident establishes a timeline that can be helpful for proving your case.
4. Forget to keep up with medical documentation
Unfortunately, a few bad apples have made it harder for others to manage a workers’ compensation case. Although you know that you aren’t lying, an insurance adjuster will require hard proof that you’ve actually sustained a work-related injury.
Make sure to keep every medical bill, record and treatment plan that you get on paper. You may be required to submit these as part of your case, and your attorney can use the information to prove that your injury prevents you from carrying out your normal job duties.
5. Attempt to hide previous injuries or medical conditions
Some workplace injuries aggravate a pre-existing condition. When this occurs, you might still be eligible to file a workers’ compensation claim. However, hiding a pre-existing condition or injury could cause you to appear unreliable or dishonest to an insurance company or court.
If you aren’t sure if your injury is eligible for coverage under workers’ comp, then discuss your concerns with an experienced workers’ compensation attorney who can provide you with guidance that allows you to approach your case with honesty so you can get the compensation you deserve.
6. Post anything on social media
You might have some extra time on your hands during your recovery, but you don’t want to spend it making social media mistakes that could impact your case. Naturally, you won’t want to post pictures of you surfing with a back injury, but even having drinks with friends downtown could be considered questionable behavior by an insurance company looking for any possible reason to deny your claim.
While you might want to reassure your friends that you’re feeling better, any public mention that you’re “doing okay” could compromise a successful workers’ comp claim. Because of this, it’s best to limit or abstain from posting or commenting on social media while your workers’ compensation claim is ongoing.
7. Ignore your restrictions when returning to work
If your doctor clears you to return to work on light duty, you should follow the recommended orders. Doing so demonstrates that you aren’t trying to avoid having to work altogether.
However, you could jeopardize your case if you attempt to do work that your doctor hasn’t cleared you to do. Make sure to stick to the types of activities that your doctor approves so you don’t aggravate your injury and complicate your case.
If your employer asks you to perform tasks that are outside of your doctor’s orders for light-duty work, be sure to talk with a work injury attorney to ensure your health and rights are protected.
8. Start a new side business
Starting a side business while you’re recovering from a work-related injury may seem like an appealing way to earn extra income. However, it’s important to consider the potential consequences.
Engaging in a new business venture during this time can be seen as evidence that your injury isn’t severe and that you’re capable of taking on greater responsibilities than you claim. This could be true even if you’re doing something that seemingly requires little physical effort, like selling items online.
Any new business or work could negatively impact your workers’ compensation claim and hinder your chances of receiving the full benefits you deserve, so be sure to talk with an attorney before taking on any new work or starting a new side business.
9. Sign anything before consulting a lawyer
As a general rule, you should never sign anything from an insurance adjuster without having an attorney review the document first. Remember that the insurance adjuster’s bottom line is to pay out as little as possible, and they might not be upfront about what they’re asking you to sign.
For instance, you don’t want to sign something that gives them full access to your medical history without speaking to a lawyer first, as they could use that evidence to deny your claim. Talking to your lawyer before signing any documents can prevent you from giving up your rights to compensation or having your compensation dramatically reduced.
10. Accept a settlement without talking to a lawyer
By accepting a settlement, whether in a lump sum or structured form, you forfeit your right to seek additional compensation for your work-related injury from your employer or their insurance company in the future. This can be especially detrimental if you have serious injuries that require long-term medical care or prevent you from returning to work.
An experienced work injury attorney understands how much your claim should be worth and can negotiate to ensure you get maximum compensation for your future medical and financial needs.
Our experienced workers’ compensation attorneys are here to protect your rights
Every workers’ compensation case is different, and we understand that filing a claim and dealing with insurance adjusters when you’re trying to heal from a serious work-related injury can be overwhelming. Fortunately, you don’t have to struggle through this process alone.
If you’ve suffered an on-the-job injury or illness in South Carolina, the knowledgeable work injury attorneys at Chappell, Chappell & Newman can help you get the compensation you deserve.
For more than 30 years, the attorneys at Chappell, Chappell & Newman have been committed to fighting for the rights of injured workers, helping them succeed in their financial recoveries. As your attorneys, we’ll work tirelessly to protect your rights in any legal setting so you can maximize your compensation and reclaim your life.
Contact our office today for your free consultation.