Workers’ compensation is designed to be a no-fault, low-hassle process that balances the needs of both injured workers and their employers – in theory.
In practice, the system can leave a lot to be desired. It’s easy to make a mistake that could later negatively affect your benefits (or even your ability to claim them at all). Here are some of the biggest missteps to avoid.
1. Not being clear enough about your injuries
A lot of people unintentionally minimize their own injuries, often because they’re worried about being accused of faking their pain for benefits. However, not being bluntly honest about your injuries can deprive you of the care you need. It could also cause you to be returned to your work duties too early or without the accommodations you need.
2. Not revealing your prior injuries or pre-existing conditions
Many injured workers are afraid that if they reveal too much about their medical history to the workers’ comp physician that their injuries will automatically be blamed on their prior condition – but that’s simply not true. The aggravation or exacerbation of prior injuries while on the job is still covered under workers comp – but a lack of transparency can lead to allegations of malingering or worse.
3. Not assuming that you aren’t being watched
Don’t think for a moment that all those stories you hear about insurers hiring private investigators to follow injured workers or combing through their social media accounts are fiction. Insurance companies can and do pull out all the stops in their efforts to reduce or deny claims. Be extremely cautious about what you do outside your own doors and on social media to protect your claim.
Oftentimes, injured workers can benefit the most from experienced legal guidance. The sooner you explore the possibilities, the sooner you can get the medical care and other benefits that can help you stabilize your finances and protect your future.