Top 10 list of items to consider if you sustained a Workers Compensation Injury

workers-compensation-jpgHere are 10 items to consider if you or a loved one have sustained a work related injury.  This list is not an exhaustive and should only be used as a potential guideline for injured workers seeking information.

  1. 1.  Seek medical treatment immediately. Obviously, if you sustain a severe injury, you may be transferred to the Emergency Room directly from your workplace. There are other times you may think you can hold off on seeking immediate treatment. This could be making a big mistake. There are occasions where you think you do not need treatment, only to find out your symptoms worsen to the point where you need to see a doctor. If you wait too long before seeking treatment, you may jeopardize your Health. Furthermore, your Employer’s Workers Compensation Carrier my DENY your WC claim because of a delay in treatment from your initial work related incident date.
  2. Report your injury to your Employer/Supervisor immediately. You should always report any work related injury to your employer and/or supervisor. Even if the injury is minor and you do not think you need medical treatment, you should always report an injury immediately. IF you fail to report your injury in a timely manner, the workers compensation insurance carrier may use your late reporting to your disadvantage and deny your claim.
  3. Keep a record of your injury details. You should keep track of the facts of your injury including the details of how the accident occurred and any witnesses to the incident. Get pictures of the accident scene and visible injuries you may have sustained if possible. Sometimes accidents are caused by other person or entity’s negligence any it is extremely important to also investigate any potential for a 3rd party negligence recovery.
  4. Seek appropriate follow up medical care. You should always follow your medical provider’s recommendations. You have a right to also seek a second opinion for medical treatment. If you do not follow your doctor’s recommendations or do not follow through with continued medical care, the workers compensation insurance carrier may deny your claim and allege you are non-compliant with medical treatment.
  5. Document your disability with medical excuse notes from your physician. The workers compensation insurance carrier will need verification you are disabled and your disability is causally related to your work injury. All disability notes should give a detail of your restrictions and reference the date of your injury.
  6. Do not accept a light duty return to work offer unless you are sure your employer understands the details of your restrictions. Sometimes employer are anxious to have employee’s return to work after a work related accident. If you decide to return to work, you must confirm your employer will be able to accommodate any ongoing medical restrictions you may have. If you return to work too soon or if your employer does not accommodate your work restrictions, you could re-injure yourself and cause the need for additional medical treatment and disability.
  7. Be careful when dealing with a Nurse Case Manager assigned to your case by the workers compensation insurance carrier. Sometimes, a WC Insurance Company will assign a Nurse Case Manager to work with injured workers to assist them with coordinating medical treatment. Sometimes, Nurse Case Managers are helpful in getting the injured worker the medical treatment they need to recover. Occasionally, Nurse Case Managers overstep their role and become an advocate for the Employer/Insurer and not the Employee by persuading your doctor go give a work release when you are not totally recovered from your injuries. Do not allow nurse case managers to attend visits with your doctor as any conversations you have with your doctor should be privileged and covered under the patient/physician relationship.
  8. Do not sign forms provided to you from the WC Insurance Carrier unless you fully understand what you are signing. In Massachusetts, A Workers Compensation Insurance Carrier can ask the Department of Industrial Accidents to extend the time period for them to “accept” your case. This form is called “an Agreement to Extend the 180 Pay without Prejudice Period”. You could jeopardize your claim if you sign this form without understanding the ramifications.
  9. Understand all of your rights and remedies. You may be entitled to additional WC benefits such as concurrent earnings, dependency benefits, cost of living adjustments, loss of function benefits, scarring benefits. You also could be entitled to additional benefits under “pain and suffering” if you have a viable 3rd party negligence in Massachusetts.
  10. Contact an Experienced Workers Compensation Attorney       that represents injured workers. You should consult with an attorney with experience representing injured workers, such as Attorney Michael O. Smith. An Attorney will be able to tell you if you are receiving all the benefits you are entitled and will be able to look out for your best interests.