The steps you do and don’t take after sustaining a work-related injury can impact the strength and success of a future workers’ compensation claim. In fact, because the claims process can be involved and challenging, it’s important to understand what missteps could sabotage your claim – and possibly result in a reduction or denial of benefits.
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Mistake 1 – Failing to promptly or properly report the injury to the employer
Indiana law requires workers to report a work-related injury to their employer within thirty (30) days of the date of the accident or incident that caused the injury. While workers are encouraged to provide a verbal report as soon as possible after the incident, the law requires that this report is made via a written notice to the employer.
When providing this written notice, it’s smart to make and retain a copy of it and to start a “log” where you can track each step you have taken after the incident (with dates and other details). This can be very helpful later when it’s time to file a claim or an appeal of denied (or terminated) benefits.
If you miss the reporting deadline or fail to submit a written notice to your employer, your claim may be denied by your employer’s insurance provider.
Mistake 2 – Not seeking immediate medical treatment
Seeing a doctor as soon as possible after suffering a work-related injury is critical to getting a proper diagnosis and immediate treatment. It’s also essential to documenting the severity of the injury in the immediate aftermath of a work accident.
Here, it’s also important to note that, if you want your doctors’ visits and medical treatments to be covered by workers’ compensation, you will likely have to see a doctor chosen by your employer or get your employer to approve the doctor of your choice (unless the situation is an emergency).
Waiting too long to see a doctor can give the insurance company and your employer room to argue that you were not injured at work or that your injuries are not as bad as you have alleged. That can compromise a future claim.
Mistake 3 – Failing to follow through with the prescribed medical treatments and /or to comply with doctors’ restrictions
Not complying with doctors’ orders is another mistake that could cost you workers’ compensation benefits. Whether you skip doctors’ appointments, refuse treatment(s) or violate doctors’ restrictions (like, for instance, lifting or moving restrictions), your claim can be denied, and benefits you may be receiving can be terminated.
If, however, you feel like a doctor has misdiagnosed you or prescribed the wrong course of treatment, you can request an independent medical exam (IME) to get a second opinion. That is strongly advised for workers who feel that they are not getting the proper treatment or care and who still want to protect their rights to benefits.
Mistake 4 – Missing a claims deadline
Failing to meet the deadline for filing a claim or an appeal can mean that you miss your window of opportunity for seeking benefits.
Given that there can be various strict deadlines for Indiana workers’ compensation claims (and appeals), it’s strongly advised that injured workers get help managing their claim – and keeping track of all deadlines – to position a claim for the best possible outcome (and the maximum available benefits).
Mistake 5 – Believing your employer, the doctors and/or insurance company is looking out for you
No matter how caring or sympathetic your employer, the insurer and/or the doctor(s) may seem in the aftermath of a work injury, it’s incredibly important to remember that these parties are NOT necessarily on your side.
In fact, they tend to be looking out for their own interests, sometimes even if that comes at the expense of an injured worker. This is generally because:
- Employers are focused on limiting claims and avoiding hikes in their insurance rates.
- Insurers, who work for employers, are focused on minimizing payouts so they can maximize their own profits.
- Doctors, who tend to work with (or sometimes for) insurers, can be focused on maintaining their relationships with insurance companies.
The best way to make sure that you have someone looking out for you when it’s time to file a workers’ compensation claim or appeal is to retain an experienced attorney.
Mistake 6 – Not consulting a lawyer for help
An attorney can help you avoid these and other mistakes that could complicate or damage your claim by:
- Handling all administrative work necessary to file your claim and keep it moving forward
- Managing and meeting all necessary deadlines
- Advising you of your rights and options at every phase of your case
- Aggressively advocating on your behalf while positioning your claim for the best outcome possible.
Set Your Claim Up for Success: Contact a Fort Wayne Workers Compensation Lawyer at Finderson Law, LLC
If you have been hurt on the job, contact a Fort Wayne workers compensation lawyer at Finderson Law, LLC to get answers about your potential claim. Call (260) 420-8600 or email us to set up a free, no obligations initial consultation.
Our attorneys, who have decades of experience helping injured workers, are ready to partner with you and help you successfully navigate the workers’ compensation process.
We don’t charge any fees unless we obtain a recovery for you. This means that you have nothing to lose and potentially a lot to gain by contacting us to find out more about your legal options.
Let us explain how our representation can make all the difference in your workers’ compensation claim.
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From offices in Fort Wayne, we are proud to represent clients throughout Allen County and the state of Indiana.