6 Common Workers' Comp Claim Mistakes Injured Employees Make

If you work in Georgia for an employer with three or more employees, then you more than likely have workers’ compensation insurance. This important employment benefit allows you to get necessary medical treatments after a workplace accident at no cost to you. You might even be able to get wage replacement benefits if your work injury leads to a temporary or permanent disability.

Even though workers’ compensation is so useful, you – like most other workers in the state – can probably admit that you don’t understand how the program works or how to file a claim. This isn’t your fault. Employers and insurers rarely do a good job explaining workers’ compensation benefits to workers, so when the time comes to use them, they don’t know where to start.

At The Law Offices of Nathaniel F. Hansford, LLC, we want everyone in Georgia to have a good chance at securing workers’ comp benefits when they need them.

Let’s start by discussing some of the worst and most common mistakes that injured employees make when filing a workers’ comp claim:

  • Waiting too long to report the injury: Injured employees in Georgia must report their injury within 30 days of the date the accident occurred if they want workers’ compensation benefits. If you file a claim after this deadline, you may lose your right to obtain workers’ comp benefits entirely. Do not wait the full 30 days to report your injury. It is recommended to report the injury to your employer as soon as the accident happens or the next day if that is your next opportunity. Make sure you save a copy of the accident report and all documents related to your case.
  • Refusing medical treatment: Many injured employees refuse medical attention after an accident because they think their injury is not serious or that the pain will wear off in an hour or so. Do not make this serious mistake. Not only will a doctor diagnose your injuries, but they will also provide documentation that can be used as evidence in your case to demonstrate the severity of your injuries and how they are preventing you from returning to work. Without medical documentation supporting your claims, the insurance company will very likely deny the claim until you can come up with a relevant medical record. Keep in mind that Georgia law requires you to see a medical provider of your employer’s choice for at least your first round of medical treatments.
  • Ignoring doctor’s orders: You will receive specific aftercare instructions from your doctor once you are released from initial medical care. Aftercare usually includes getting rest, avoiding certain activities like heavy lifting, and taking prescription medicines. Failing to follow the doctor’s orders as closely as possible will jeopardize the validity of your workers’ compensation claim. The insurance company will jump at the chance to deny your claim if they find out you ignored the doctor’s orders because they will say it either proves you are not as injured as you say you are or that your injuries have been worsened due to your own negligence.
  • Returning to work too soon: It is not uncommon for injured employees to be pressured by their employers to return to work as soon as possible. However, going back to work too soon is a serious problem, not just for your health but also for your workers’ compensation claim. If you aren’t fully healed or rested from your work injury, heading back to work can worsen it. Your doctor should give you the exact date when you are ready to return. This date can be pushed back if a follow-up diagnosis changes your doctor’s evaluation of your injuries. The insurer could also argue that you ignored your doctor’s orders if you return too soon, hurting your claim’s validity.
  • Signing documents without your attorney: Once you sign your name on a settlement offer, you lose the ability to revisit your claim if your injury never heals or the settlement amount provided doesn’t cover the costs of your expenses. Remember that the insurance company is looking out for your employer’s best interests and their own, not yours. As a general rule for any interaction with an insurer during your workers’ compensation claim, do not sign anything without letting your attorney review it first. The insurer might tell you that you have to accept an offer then and there, or it will be taken away. This tactic is usually a bluff, though. Settlement offers typically stand for 30 days.
  • Going it alone: To help you avoid making all of the mistakes mentioned above, it is in your best interest to hire an experienced workers’ compensation attorney soon after being in a work accident. You can hire one even before you file for workers’ comp, which is recommended. While you recover from injury, your lawyer can handle all of the paperwork, meet all of the deadlines, and negotiate with the insurance company to seek the maximum benefits owed to you. Insurers are hoping you will try to handle your claim alone, so don’t do them any favors by doing just that.

Have More Questions? We Have Answers

If you work in Georgia for an employer with three or more employees, then you more than likely have workers’ compensation insurance. This important employment benefit allows you to get necessary medical treatments after a workplace accident at no cost to you. You might even be able to get wage replacement benefits if your work injury leads to a temporary or permanent disability.

Even though workers’ compensation is so useful, you – like most other workers in the state – can probably admit that you don’t understand how the program works or how to file a claim. This isn’t your fault. Employers and insurers rarely do a good job explaining workers’ compensation benefits to workers, so when the time comes to use them, they don’t know where to start.

At The Law Offices of Nathaniel F. Hansford, LLC, we want everyone in Georgia to have a good chance at securing workers’ comp benefits when they need them.

Let’s start by discussing some of the worst and most common mistakes that injured employees make when filing a workers’ comp claim:

  • Waiting too long to report the injury: Injured employees in Georgia must report their injury within 30 days of the date the accident occurred if they want workers’ compensation benefits. If you file a claim after this deadline, you may lose your right to obtain workers’ comp benefits entirely. Do not wait the full 30 days to report your injury. It is recommended to report the injury to your employer as soon as the accident happens or the next day if that is your next opportunity. Make sure you save a copy of the accident report and all documents related to your case.
  • Refusing medical treatment: Many injured employees refuse medical attention after an accident because they think their injury is not serious or that the pain will wear off in an hour or so. Do not make this serious mistake. Not only will a doctor diagnose your injuries, but they will also provide documentation that can be used as evidence in your case to demonstrate the severity of your injuries and how they are preventing you from returning to work. Without medical documentation supporting your claims, the insurance company will very likely deny the claim until you can come up with a relevant medical record. Keep in mind that Georgia law requires you to see a medical provider of your employer’s choice for at least your first round of medical treatments.
  • Ignoring doctor’s orders: You will receive specific aftercare instructions from your doctor once you are released from initial medical care. Aftercare usually includes getting rest, avoiding certain activities like heavy lifting, and taking prescription medicines. Failing to follow the doctor’s orders as closely as possible will jeopardize the validity of your workers’ compensation claim. The insurance company will jump at the chance to deny your claim if they find out you ignored the doctor’s orders because they will say it either proves you are not as injured as you say you are or that your injuries have been worsened due to your own negligence.
  • Returning to work too soon: It is not uncommon for injured employees to be pressured by their employers to return to work as soon as possible. However, going back to work too soon is a serious problem, not just for your health but also for your workers’ compensation claim. If you aren’t fully healed or rested from your work injury, heading back to work can worsen it. Your doctor should give you the exact date when you are ready to return. This date can be pushed back if a follow-up diagnosis changes your doctor’s evaluation of your injuries. The insurer could also argue that you ignored your doctor’s orders if you return too soon, hurting your claim’s validity.
  • Signing documents without your attorney: Once you sign your name on a settlement offer, you lose the ability to revisit your claim if your injury never heals or the settlement amount provided doesn’t cover the costs of your expenses. Remember that the insurance company is looking out for your employer’s best interests and their own, not yours. As a general rule for any interaction with an insurer during your workers’ compensation claim, do not sign anything without letting your attorney review it first. The insurer might tell you that you have to accept an offer then and there, or it will be taken away. This tactic is usually a bluff, though. Settlement offers typically stand for 30 days.
  • Going it alone: To help you avoid making all of the mistakes mentioned above, it is in your best interest to hire an experienced workers’ compensation attorney soon after being in a work accident. You can hire one even before you file for workers’ comp, which is recommended. While you recover from injury, your lawyer can handle all of the paperwork, meet all of the deadlines, and negotiate with the insurance company to seek the maximum benefits owed to you. Insurers are hoping you will try to handle your claim alone, so don’t do them any favors by doing just that.

Have More Questions? We Have Answers

There are plenty of mistakes that you can make along the way when handling your own workers’ compensation claim. But there is only one way to handle it the best way. Make certain you are giving your claim a fair chance at success by teaming up with the team you can trust from The Law Offices of Nathaniel F. Hansford, LLC.

If you have suffered a workplace injury, request a free consultation with our Georgia workers’ comp attorneys today.

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