Common Mistakes to Avoid When Filing a Workers' Compensation Claim

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No one goes to work expecting to become seriously injured while performing their regular job responsibilities.

Yet, workplace injuries happen every day, often resulting in serious injuries, permanent disabilities, or even fatalities. Workers’ Compensation benefits cover the costs of medical care, lost wages, disability benefits, and, in many cases, death benefits. Filing a Workers’ Compensation claim can be confusing and overwhelming, and if mistakes are made, the claim could be denied. The following
are some of the most common mistakes people make when filing a Workers’ Compensation claim:

-Failing to report the injury. An employee cannot begin to collect Workers’ Compensation benefits if they do not report the workplace accident. The injured worker must notify their employer, either in person or in writing, as soon as possible.

-Reporting your injury to your doctor before notifying your employer. While it is imperative that you see your doctor so that he or she can recommend the appropriate treatment, your doctor is not responsible for reporting your injury to your employer. Unless it is a medical emergency, report your injury to your employer before seeing your doctor.

-Seeking coverage for your injury through your own private health insurance. Your employer’s Workers’ Compensation plan covers all medical costs associated with your injury, including disability benefits if you are unable to work. Private health insurance typically covers medical bills after you have paid a deductible and/or a co-payment, and will not cover an injury that occurred on-the-job.

-Failing to report your injury because you do not think you have a claim. Just because your injury is not physically obvious or extremely serious does not mean you are not eligible for Workers’ Compensation benefits. For example, if you suffer from carpal tunnel syndrome, you may be eligible for Workers’ Compensation benefits, even though the condition is not related to one single incident.

-Failing to provide a complete and accurate injury report. When filling out an injury report, be thorough. Include the location, date, and time of your accident, as well as a detailed description of your injury.

-Assuming you do not have a claim just because you have not missed work. Whether it is a matter of dedication or fear of being penalized for using sick time, some employees do not take time off from work to recuperate or seek medical attention. Even if you have not missed a day of work due to your injury, you are still eligible for benefits to cover your medical care.

-Thinking that a pre-existing condition makes you ineligible for benefits. If you have a pre-existing condition, like arthritis, that is made worse by a workplace injury, you are eligible for benefits as long as the workplace injury is the primary reason for needing treatment.

-Failing to file a claim because there is not one single event that caused your injury. Even if your injury resulted from a series of events, such as repetitive lifting or from cumulative trauma like carpal tunnel syndrome, you may be eligible for benefits.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Maximillian F. Van Orden
Mr. Van Orden regularly represents individual clients before the United States Bankruptcy Court for the District of Maryland, the Social Security Administration, the Workers’ Compensation Commission, and the District and Circuit Courts of Maryland. Currently, Mr. Van Orden is a member of the National Association of Consumer Bankruptcy Attorneys (NACBA) and the National Organization of Social Security Claimants Representatives (NOSSCR).

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Disclaimer: While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of this publication, it is not intended to provide legal advice as individual situations will differ and should be discussed with an expert and/or lawyer. For specific technical or legal advice on the information provided and related topics, please contact the author.

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