Filing for Workers’ Compensation benefits can be a confusing process . With insurance companies, adjusters, investigators, and their attorneys all sticking their noses into the details of your work injury, it can be difficult to know what you should or should not do. Here is an overview of the six most common mistakes made by injured employees that could greatly reduce the value of your claim or even completely prevent you from recovering the workers’ compensation benefits you deserve.
- Failing to properly report your accident.
The most important thing you must do if you are injured on the job is report the injury to your employer as soon as possible. Many employers and insurance companies tell injured employees that they cannot file a claim because they were not notified of the accident within a certain time frame. South Carolina law requires you notify your employer of your injury within 90 days after the incident. Failure to do so may result in a loss of workers’ comp benefits!
- Failing to give a full and accurate history to medical providers.
If you fail to tell medical providers where and how you were hurt, you may not only be harming yourself physically, but legally as well. When you report your injury to a medical provider, be clear and detailed when discussing the nature of your injuries and how they occurred. Always identify where you were hurt and if there was anything unusual that caused your injuries. If your case goes to the hearing level, medical records are one of the most compelling pieces of evidence for your case!
- Not filing a Form 50.
In order to help protect your right to compensation, you need to file the Form 50. The Form 50 lets the South Carolina Workers’ Compensation Commission and your employer know that you are claiming workers’ compensation benefits. If you fail to file the Form 50 immediately, your claim may be barred after a period of time. In general, you have 2 years to pursue benefits in the state of South Carolina; however, there are some circumstances where this does not apply. Consult with an attorney for more information.
- Not following the doctor’s orders.
If you have been injured at work, your employer or the workers’ compensation insurance company generally has the right to choose your doctor. It is very important you comply with the recommendations of the treating physician when it comes to attending medical appointments and therapy. If you fail to attend appointments, you may jeopardize your benefits. The insurance company may suspend benefits on the basis that the injured worker is being “non-compliant” with medical treatment.
- Not knowing when to return to work.
Most employers, at the request of the insurance company, will provide light work to injured workers. Either the employer or the insurance adjuster may then require the injured employee to return to work. Prior to returning to work, it is necessary to know what you will be doing. Request a specific job description in advance and ask that it be submitted to the doctor for approval. If the doctor is confident you will be physically capable of performing the duties outlined in the position, you may return to work.
- Not hiring a lawyer, or hiring the wrong lawyer.
Immediately after an accident on the job, you are thrown into an adversarial legal system. The insurance company and its adjusters and attorneys are working against you, seeking to pay as little as possible. If you wait too long to get legal help, you may have trouble finding witnesses and vital evidence, and you may get lost in translation of legal jargon. Some people try to represent themselves; but be wary – there are many mistakes that cannot be “undone” by even the most experienced workers’ compensation attorney. Choose your lawyer carefully; he or she should handle your case from start to finish, with dedication and honesty.
If you believe you may be in hot water with your workers’ compensation claim, contact the experienced workers’ compensation legal team at George Sink, P.A. Injury Lawyers to get the help you need!