Understanding the Compensation Process for an Injured Worker Claim
If you have a job with a high risk of work-related injury (such as a construction worker or fire fighter), sometimes it can seem like there are so many “what ifs” hanging over your head. You may be wondering: In the event you are actually injured, what do you do next to receive the compensation you deserve?
Colorado work injury attorney R. Mack Babcock and his skilled legal team walk you through the process for filing a workers’ compensation claim.
Tell Your Employer
A worker failing to properly report an injury to his or her employer immediately has resulted in many mistrials. You should notify your employer about the accident in writing first thing, even before contacting an attorney. The longer it takes you to report the injury, the more room for doubt you leave regarding when the injury actually occurred and how serious it was.
File a Claim
Once you’ve notified your employer about your injury in writing, they are required to file an employer’s “first report of injury” if the accident has caused you to miss three working days or more. You will also need to file your own claim.
Inform Your Doctor
After informing your employer, you need to see a doctor for any injuries you sustain. Be thorough in your reporting. Your insurance adjuster, as well as a judge (if it goes to court), will use this information to calculate your award.
Below are three factors you need to talk about with the physician when discussing your injury:
- Pain Honesty – Do not exaggerate or downplay your injuries. Insurance adjusters are good at what they do; therefore, exaggerating injuries will only hurt your case. Likewise, downplaying injuries will lead to insufficient care, extended recovery time and inadequate compensation.
- Consider Future Pains – Immediate and specific area pain is not the only injury you need to report to a doctor. After an accident, tell the physician about any pain felt, no matter how small, because these could be associated with the injury as well. If you wait until your initial pain subsides, it may be too late to report other pain.
- Written Injury Reports – It is a good idea to make sure you get all of your injuries stated in writing. This can eliminate concerns that a doctor is ignoring symptoms. You can write a physical letter to the doctor that includes all symptoms. Make sure this letter is placed in your medical file.
The Hearing Process
If your case goes before a judge, it can take quite some time to get a hearing—as long as 3 to 6 months—so you should be prepared to wait for some time. Once the hearing begins, there are three parts to the process: discovery, medical records and pre-existing conditions.
The discovery process exists to exchange information, including facts and evidence for hearings. You should expect the following questions:
- What was the cause of the injury?
- What was your pay when you were injured?
- Did you report the injury to your employer?
- Were there any witnesses?
- What is your medical history?
- What does your employment history look like?
Yes, many of these questions are invasive; however, they are often necessary to ensure that you receive the most compensation you can. They are also in place to ensure that people do not abuse the system. Most importantly, you should answer the questions quickly and thoroughly since any delay could put your hearing on hold.
During a workers’ compensation claim, your adjuster may inquire about your medical records from the last 10 years. This process is to ensure that the injury you’re trying to receive compensation for isn’t really an old non-work related injury. The information requested is typically only that which is relevant to your case. (For example, psychological medical records will not be needed in a back injury claim.)
Don’t worry, a pre-existing condition does not automatically make you ineligible for workers’ comp benefits. That said, it might make for a more difficult case, which is why you should seriously consider hiring a workers’ comp attorney in this situation.
Being hurt on the job can not only place you in a painful situation, it can also be a financial burden on you and your family. If you’ve been hurt on the job and need help, contact Babcock Law for a free consultation.
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