Regardless of whether you have a claim for worker’s compensation, there are several critical mistakes you need to avoid after suffering a job-related injury.
If you’ve been injured on the job, making sure you receive financial compensation for your injury will be an important part of the recovery process. Job-related injuries can be expensive, and making sure you can cover your expenses will be important for your long-term health and financial well-being.
With this in mind, as you begin the recovery process, you need to know both what to do and what not to do in order protect your legal rights. Here is an overview of seven mistakes to avoid after getting injured on the job.
7 Mistakes to Avoid After Getting Injured on the Job
1. Assuming You are Eligible for Worker’s Compensation
While most employees are eligible for worker’s compensation, you should not automatically assume that you are entitled to benefits. If you have a claim outside of worker’s comp, it might not be in your best interests to report your injury to your employer before consulting with an attorney. You might need to file a lawsuit against your employer instead; and, if so, you will need to go through an entirely different process to secure the compensation you deserve.
2. Assuming You are NOT Eligible for Worker’s Compensation
At the same time, you should not assume that you are ineligible to file for worker’s compensation. Again, most employees are covered, and worker’s comp provides “no fault” benefits for the financial costs of job-related injuries.
Filing for worker’s comp can also provide you with financial resources much quicker than filing other types of claims. If you have a claim, you should absolutely file, and you should do so promptly in order to maximize your chances of financial recovery.
3. Waiting Too Long to File Your Claim
If you are eligible for worker’s compensation, you will need to file your claim promptly. All 50 states have strict deadlines, and in some states they are measured days rather than weeks or months. If you wait too long to file your worker’s comp claim, you could lose your right to benefits.
If you have a claim outside of worker’s comp, you will need to file this claim on time, too. While the statutes of limitations for personal injury, premises liability, and products liability claims are generally longer, any unnecessary delays can make it much more difficult to prove your right to compensation.
4. Seeing the Wrong Doctor
In addition to imposing strict deadlines, some states also impose restrictions on where employees can go for treatment when they file for worker’s compensation. If you are required to see an approved doctor (or choose from an approved “panel of physicians”) and fail to do so, this could also lead to a denial.
On the other hand, if you have a claim outside of worker’s comp, you will definitely want to see a doctor of your own choosing. To make sure you make the right decisions, the best thing you can do is consult with a local attorney who is experienced in representing injured employees.
5. Accepting What the Insurance Company Gives You
When seeking worker’s compensation benefits, you should not simply accept whatever the insurance company gives you. Why? Because it will most likely reflect just a fraction of the amount you are owed. Instead, you need to independently calculate your benefits, and you need to be prepared to fight for the full benefits you deserve.
6. Overlooking Additional Sources of Financial Recovery
Regardless of whether you are eligible for worker’s compensation, seeking benefits through your employer might not be your only option. In many cases, injured workers will be able to recover additional compensation. For example, you might have a claim against a property owner, product manufacturer, or subcontractor. You might also be eligible for Social Security disability or other government benefits.
7. Trying to Handle Your Situation on Your Own
Due to the various risks and challenges involved in protecting your legal rights after a work injury, it is important not to try to handle your situation on your own. In order to protect your legal rights, you need to rely on professional advice, and the best thing you can do is to consult with an attorney near you.
These are not the only mistakes you need to avoid, but they are some of the most important. When you have a claim for a job-related injury, everything you do can have consequences, and you need to be careful to avoid any mistake that could jeopardize your financial recovery.
What Should You Do if You’ve Been Injured on the Job?
So, that’s an overview of some of the key mistakes you need to avoid. Now, what should you do if you’ve been injured on the job?
The most important thing you can do is take a proactive approach to recovering your losses. Unfortunately, you cannot trust your employer or the insurance companies to simply pay what you are owed. Instead, you need to take control of your claim, and you need to stay actively engaged throughout the process.
Of course, this can be difficult, especially if you are dealing with a serious work-related injury. You may also feel pressured to settle—whether from the insurance companies or based on your financial situation. As a result, rather than putting yourself through unnecessary stress and dealing with unnecessary uncertainty, it is a far better option to put an experienced attorney on your side.
While many injured workers have concerns about the cost of hiring an attorney, the reality is that this is a non-issue. First, with very few exceptions, attorneys handle job-related injury claims on a contingency-fee basis. This means that you don’t have to pay anything unless you win. Second, even factoring in your attorney’s contingency fees, you can still generally expect to collect more when you have experienced legal representation. Finally, many states cap attorneys’ fees in worker’s compensation cases. So, regardless of the benefits you are entitled to receive, your attorney’s fees will always be just a fraction of your overall award.