If you or someone you know has been injured at work or while performing a work-related task, such as running an errand for a supervisor, you may have a workers compensation case. Up until the injury, most people don’t know how a workers comp case works or how much coverage they can receive. You don’t need it until you need it! But once an injury occurs, there are many questions to be answered and you or your family may be wondering about compensation.
You can start by listing out the facts of the case. Be honest about the details. Did you get hurt because your employer or someone at your company was negligent? Did somebody do something wrong or fail to do something that they should have? Or was your injury caused by something that you did or did not do?
Hopefully you sought treatment at the time of the injury. If you do not, and you are experiencing pain or symptoms, you should seek treatment immediately. All too often, people do not realize the severity of an injury or they think they can treat themselves. This hurts your case if your injury does not heal properly or if you have ongoing issues that result from the injury.
Were you actually practicing your job when you were injured? Or were you on the property of your job, your employer, but not actively working your job at the time? Maybe you stopped by to pick up a tool or a paycheck. There are many different scenarios. Record yours in as much detail as you can remember. If there were witnesses to the injury, by all means try to get a statement from them or at least ask them what they saw and what they remember.
If you have a company manual, or any type of document that they gave you when you were hired which discusses company policy and benefits, find it and read it. Look for information about workers compensation.
Don’t let too much time go by. If you believe you have a case then you need to get the process started. You may or may not need a workers compensation attorney. When cases are more complex or there are gray areas, that is when it helps to have an experienced workers compensation attorney review your case and guide you on how to proceed. No matter where you live, it does not cost anything to speak to an attorney about your case. Attorneys such as those at our firm will give you their best advice, and the conversation is confidential.
You want to choose an attorney who has significant experience in this type of law. Many attorneys have multiple practice areas. It is perfectly okay to ask them about their record and the number of cases that they have handled specifically in workers compensation. Usually, a workers compensation dispute can be resolved when good communication takes place between the employer, the employees, and the insurance carrier. Attorneys are skilled at this communication and can speak the insurance companies’ language. At times, an employer may contest or drag their feet on the case. Again, this is when it pays to have a good injury attorney.
Keep in mind that you have a right to a second opinion if a physician who was retained by your employer makes a decision on your injury and your level of impairment that you disagree with. In other words, you can obtain a diagnosis and report from any physician you choose, and it will still be at the employer’s expense.
The bottom line is—don’t be afraid to get treated. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. And don’t be afraid to challenge the decisions of your employer and their insurance carrier. Your priority is to get well and to make sure that, if ongoing/long term therapy or treatment is needed, it will be covered for you, along with all lost wages.