Work injuries can be overwhelming. You are recovering from an injury, and may have frequent doctor appointments. You may be figuring out how to pay your bills without steady income. The claims process can seem long and stressful.
Here are some of our top tips for injured workers.
Hire an Experienced Workers’ Comp Lawyer
You may get a lot of advice from your insurance adjuster (as well as friends and family). The insurance adjuster is not on your side. Instead, the adjuster is trying to pay you as little as possible. While your friends and family love you, they are not legal experts.
Instead, you should talk to an experienced lawyer about your case. A workers’ comp lawyer will educate you on your rights and duties under the law. And, unlike an insurance adjuster, your workers’ compensation lawyer has your best interests in mind.
If your claim is disputed, a workers’ compensation lawyer can file an appeal and fight for your rights.
Report All Work Injuries Immediately
Many employers discourage the filing of accident reports. However, you should not wait to report an accident. Unless you notify your employer within 30 days of the accident, you may not receive workers’ compensation benefits.
Additionally, late reporting often results in a denial of benefits.
Seek Medical Treatment with an Approved Provider
As long as you treat with an authorized medical provider, your employer should pay your medical bills. However, if you treat with your personal doctor, you may be financially responsible.
Be Honest with Your Doctors
When you see a doctor, don’t minimize your problems. Workers frequently play down their pain so they can return to work. This is a bad idea.
Going back to work too early can make your injury worse. Minimizing symptoms can also delay the accurate diagnosis of your condition. If the doctor doesn’t understand your symptoms, he cannot properly treat them.
On the other hand, you should never exaggerate your symptoms. Doctors are trained to recognize symptom magnification. If your doctor thinks you are exaggerating, it can negatively impact your case. You may not get the care you need and your employer may dispute your claim.
Follow the Doctor’s Orders
You should follow your doctor’s recommendations and restrictions. As you heal, it is tempting to push your physical limits. (You have a house and family to care for!) Don’t do it. If you return to activities too early, you risk hurting yourself again.
You also need to follow a doctor’s treatment plan. If you refuse medical treatment, you may hurt your workers’ compensation case.
Finally, take medications as they are prescribed. Do not double up (or skip) doses without a doctor’s approval. If your doctor thinks you are abusing medications, it can hurt your workers’ compensation claim.
Don’t be afraid to ask for information. Try to make educated decisions about your medical care and workers’ compensation claim.
While you have the right to a second opinion, you can only change doctors once in Florida. Before you get a second opinion, talk to your current doctor. Sometimes, you may agree with a treatment plan once you have more information.
Similarly, ask your lawyer questions. Your workers’ compensation lawyer is your best resource for information, and is on your side. When in doubt, call your lawyer.
You Shouldn’t Typically Accept the First Settlement Offer
Under most circumstances, insurance companies do not offer top dollar right away. If you have been offered a settlement, you should probably make a counteroffer.
It can be difficult for injured workers to evaluate a settlement offer. Negotiations can be complicated. You should probably consult with an experienced workers’ compensation attorney before settling your claim.
This blog contains basic information about Florida workers’ compensation law. For personalized advice, contact Hardesty, Tyde, Green & Ashton for a free consultation.