If you’re injured in a work-related accident, chances are you feel some combination of worry, distress, and confusion. Unfortunately, these feelings can prevent you from thinking clearly and can lead to mistakes.
Let’s take a look at 5 of the most common mistakes people make when filing a workers’ compensation claim so you can be sure to avoid them.
1. Not seeing a doctor immediately
Americans avoid doctors at alarming rates. Some people worry about costs and others believe over-the-counter medications will fix their problem.
Avoiding the doctor when you’re injured is never a good idea, but it’s particularly harmful when you hope to receive workers’ compensation benefits. Not seeing a doctor after a work-related injury raises doubts about the legitimacy of your claim and increases the chances your claim will be denied.
On the other hand, a visit to the doctor serves as valuable evidence of your injury.
2. Failing to create a full medical record
One of the first things the insurance carrier or the attorney for your employer will do when investigating your workers’ compensation claim is request and thoroughly review your medical records.
While reviewing these records, the carrier or attorney is looking for any information that might suggest your injuries aren’t as severe as you’re claiming, or that your injuries were caused by something other than the work-related accident.
It’s important to provide your doctor will a full and accurate description of your injuries. All too often, injured employees fail to describe the full extent of their injuries or leave out information about where the injury occurred or how it has negatively impacted their lives.
The need to provide your doctor with a full and accurate description of your injuries applies to intake forms as well. These forms will be reviewed by your employer’s insurance carrier, so be sure to state somewhere on the forms that your injury was the result of a work accident, even if the form doesn’t specifically ask for that information.
3. Assuming your employer will file the necessary forms
In Arizona, an employer is required to file an Employer’s Report of Industrial Injury with the Industrial Commission of Arizona (ICA) within 10 days of learning of your injury. Some employees make the mistake of assuming this is the equivalent of filing a workers’ compensation claim.
This is not the case.
Regardless of any forms that your employer may file, it’s your responsibility to file either a Worker’s and Physician’s Report of Injury or a Worker’s Report of Injury with ICA within 1 year of the date of your work-related injury.
4. Not pursuing a claim because the accident was your fault
Let’s say you’re using a power sander at work. You were up late the previous night with your newborn baby and you’re tired and distracted. As a result of your lack of focus, you injure your hand on the power sander.
In a situation like this, many employees will choose not to file a workers’ compensation claim believing that the injury was their own fault.
However, in Arizona, workers’ compensation is a “no-fault” insurance system. This means that valid claims are paid regardless of who is to blame for the accident so long as the injury wasn’t intentionally self-inflicted.
5. Settling claims too soon
Injured employees face an incredible amount of anxiety. Often, this is caused by concern over how they will pay their mounting medical bills. As a result, many hurt employees accept the first settlement offer that comes their way.
When you settle a workers’ compensation claim, you typically give up your right to assert a claim for any future treatment. This is generally a mistake because it can be very difficult to tell the full extent of your injuries while you’re still recovering and receiving treatment.
An experienced workers’ compensation attorney can help you assess the true value of your claim, as well as help you avoid these and other common workers’ compensation mistakes.