What would you do if you found yourself out of a job, injured and unable to work, your bills keep coming in, and you now have huge medical expenses to worry about?
Hopefully you never find yourself in a position of being hurt while on the job and needing medical attention. If you have been hurt on the job, what you do once you have been hurt can drastically affect you and your family for better or worse depending on the steps you take.
There are a few steps you will need to take in order to receive your full benefits, many of which are time sensitive.
What to do once you are hurt?
Now that you understand the importance of quickly and accurately reporting a work related injury, let’s go over each step you need to take to properly report your work related accident in the state of New Jersey.
- Report your injury to your employer.
This is a critical step and cannot be skipped. If you fail to report your injury or fail to report it in a timely manner, you may be denied benefits.
- File a claim with the workers’ compensation court or industrial court. Your workers compensation attorney can help you with your workers compensation claim.
- Document everything
It can be overwhelming and even scary when you have been injured. You may be struggling with pain, and wondering what will happen. Will you be covered? Will you still have a job once you recover?
As difficult as it may be in the circumstances, make sure you document your injury as much as possible. If you can, document everything.
Did other workers see what happened? It would be a good idea to get a statement from them for later on.
Keep track of everything the doctor gives you including MRI’s, X-rays, any and all documents, anything that could even possibly be needed down the road.
It’s far better to have documents you don’t end up needing, than to desperately need something you don’t have.
Common mistakes that can hurt your case
Mistake 1: Failing to Inform Your Doctor of the Details of Your Work-Place Injury.
People usually make one of two mistakes here. The first common mistake is people will fail to disclose all information to their doctor. You have to be upfront and honest with your doctor about your injuries. Don’t embellish or elaborate your injuries. If you had a pre-existing problem in the area you have been hurt, tell your doctor about it.
The second mistake people tend to make is actually the opposite of the first. Don’t downplay your injuries. Like with the first mistake honesty is always the best policy. We live in a society where it’s common to smile and say everything is fine when asked how we are doing. When it comes to your doctor, tell him exactly how you are feeling and what you are going through with your injury.
It is imperative that you do not misrepresent or lie about your injuries. You may think it will help your case if you can seem more hurt than you actually are but your doctor will check and test your injuries and if he/she feels you are faking or exaggerating will report it in their notes. This often has the opposite effect. Your case can be diminished or even thrown out due to your attempts to get more based on your injuries.
Mistake 2: Failing to Select Your Own Doctor.
You may think or even be told that you have to see a company doctor. This may not seem like a big deal. After all, a doctor is a doctor right? The problem is the doctor may not be out for your best interest and act in a way that will slightly favor the employer. You have the right to choose your own doctor or get a second opinion if you feel that you have been treated unfairly by a company selected doctor.
Mistake 3: Failure to Follow Your Doctor’s Advice, Orders or Treatment Plan.
Make sure you follow through with treatments and tests your doctor has prescribed. It may be tempting to stop a treatment if you begin to feel better, or it seems like the prescribed plan isn’t working. This is a big mistake and can severely hurt your case. Your lack of cooperation can be used to prove you are not actually as hurt as you originally claimed.
Mistake 4: Failure to Return to Work on Light Duty if Your Doctor Says that You Can.
Many times your doctor will advise you to go back to work on light duty. It is important that you follow the doctor’s orders. Even if the work you are assigned isn’t what you want to do or you feel like it is beneath your skill level. Not following the doctor’s orders and refusing to go back to work can actually help your employer prove that you do not want to return to work and can hurt your case.
If you are concerned that you will not be able to go back to work with your injuries even on light duty, discuss your concerns with your doctor and talk about the reasons why you feel that way. If the doctor still thinks you should return, do so, and document any pain or discomfort you’re feeling and let your attorney know as soon as possible
Mistake 5: Performing Acts Beyond Your Doctor’s Restrictions.
While recovering, you may begin to feel better. It is imperative that you do not perform tasks outside of the scope laid out from your doctor. You may feel like you are okay to carry a bag or move something across your lawn but any action that falls outside of what your doctor has deemed safe can cause further harm as well as damage your case.
It can be frustrating and feel like you are helpless, but waiting for others to help with tasks you are not able to perform while recovering is very important.
Another reason you need to avoid such tasks is you could be under observation by an insurance adjuster. You may be thinking it’s quick and easy enough to just carry something yourself, but a recording of you performing the restricted action could cause your case to be thrown out.
Mistake 6: Not Hiring the Right Attorney or Not Hiring an Attorney at All.
Never assume the insurance adjuster is looking out for your best interests. He is working for your employer’s insurance company. It’s the adjuster’s job to pay you the least amount of benefits possible. A good workers compensation attorney will evaluate any proposed settlement and make sure it’s fair before you agree to or sign anything. If it is not in your best interests, your workers compensation attorney will suggest changes.
The workers compensation attorney you hire is possibly the most important part of your claim.
Mistake 7: Failing to Be Honest With Your Attorney.
Make sure you share everything with your attorney. Anything that the other side could use against your case, your attorney needs to know about. Your attorney can not prepare for something they have no knowledge of.
Call us at (973) 442-0200 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org to talk about your case. We are here to help and have the years of experience to get you the most out of your workers compensation case.