If injured on the job don't jeopardize your lifestyle and health by returning to work sooner than needed. Know when to file a workers compensation claim.
Workers compensation pays out over $40 billion each year to injured workers. Workplace injuries can be severe and debilitating both physically and financially. If you're filing a workers compensation claim, you'll want to do it right to avoid any problems.
Have you sustained a recent workplace injury but don't know how to file a claim? Don't worry, we're here to help! Here, we'll what you need to know about filing for a workers compensation claim.
What is Workers Compensation?
Workers compensation protects workers who have sustained a workplace injury in some way. That applies whether you're injured at work or if you are off-site carrying out tasks for your job.
A major benefit of workers compensation is that you don't need to prove anyone caused your injury. Even if the accident was your fault in some way, you can still receive workers compensation. But this does not include cases where an employee injures themselves on purpose or injuries while intoxicated.
Workers compensation pays for medical expenses, wage compensation, rehab, and impairment benefits. But it will not cover things like pain and suffering or loss of future earnings.
Wondering what's covered? Here's a list of common injuries that are eligible for workers compensation.
How Do You File a Workers Compensation Claim?
So, how do you fire a workers compensation claim? Well, the first step is to report the injury to your employer. You should do this as soon as possible, although you'll want to focus on your medical needs first. If it's an illness that surfaced over time, then file as soon as symptoms occur.
Next, your employer will give you the paperwork you need to fill out for your claim. There will be a form to report to the workers compensation insurance provider and a form for the state workers compensation board. They will also provide you information about your rights, benefits, and expectations about returning to work.
After you fill out the paperwork, the employer will file the claim. Your doctor will also need to mail in your medical report. Then, the insurer will decide if they should approve your claim.
If they approve your claim, the insurer will give you details about how you'll get compensated. You can choose to accept the offer or consult a lawyer to negotiate for a larger amount.
After all is said and done, you'll return to work when you have recovered enough. You'll provide a written notice to your employer and your insurance company when you're ready. If the injury is severe enough, you may receive ongoing disability benefit payments.
How Does it Work?
Workers compensation only applies when your employer has a workers compensation policy. But all states except for New Jersey and Texas require workers compensation insurance. Workers compensation also only applies if you are an employee, not a contractor.
You'll receive treatment from a doctor approved by the workers compensation insurance carrier. Be sure to find out the approved providers before seeking treatment. You'll also need to use an approved pharmacy to retrieve any workers compensation-related medications.
Returning to work depends on a case by case basis. Some injuries can be easily treated, but back and knee injuries may take a long time to heal.
Some employers have programs that ease the transition back to work. They'll usually start by placing you on lighter duty and working fewer hours. If your employer offers such a program, take advantage so you don't risk a flare-up of your recent injury.
What Are Some Common Mistakes?
You'll need to be careful when filing your workers compensation claim. One misstep and you'll have your entire claim denied. Here are some common pitfalls many experience when filing their claim.
First, make sure to file immediately. Most states have a time frame in which you must file or else your claim is invalid. This can be anywhere from 30 to 90 days.
While there are exceptions for extreme circumstances, don't leave it to chance. At least write your employer a notice about the injury first if the proper forms aren't available. And be sure to save copies of all your documentation.
Make sure to see the appointed workers compensation doctor for assessment and treatment. While you can still see your own doctor, you have to see the appointed one. They will write a report about your claim to the insurance provider.
Also, make sure to get a second opinion if you don't agree with the doctor's diagnosis. One doctor may insist very little is wrong, while another may find a serious problem. It's always better to get a second opinion before accepting a payout.
At the doctor's office, make sure to be completely truthful. Your doctor will know if you're lying or exaggerating. Providing false information will easily result in your case getting thrown out.
And make sure to follow all doctor's instructions. Missing appointments or skipping medication can be grounds to dismiss your case.
Finally, returning to work can be a tricky subject. If you're offered light-duty status and your doctor says it's okay, make sure to return to work. Even though it may be different duties, refusing to return for any type of work when the doctor says you are able is grounds for your benefits to end.
Likewise, don't return to work too soon. If you disagree with the doctor's assessment, request a hearing with proof that you cannot return to work yet. Make sure to get another doctor's review of your condition to help back up your claim.
Are You the Victim of a Workplace Injury?
If you've sustained a recent workplace injury, don't wait! File a claim immediately. Waiting only increases the risk that your workers compensation claim will get denied.
Have experience filing a workers compensation claim and want to add your advice to the mix? Leave a comment below and share what you've learned!