Mark Roman | November 17, 2020 | Personal Injury
Getting injured on the job is an unfortunate reality that many workers face at some point in their careers. While accidents generally take people by surprise, the procedures that follow don’t need to. Knowing what you should—and shouldn’t—do if you get injured on the job can help maximize the benefits and potential payout that come from a workers’ compensation case. Stay prepared by taking note of these five common mistakes to avoid making after a job injury.
1. Waiting to Tell Your Employer
Waiting to report an injury to your employer doesn’t serve your best interests. Florida law requires employees to notify their employers of an injury within 30 days of the accident, with a few exceptions. If a medical professional is required to identify the cause of the injury or work-related illness, for example, an employee has until 30 days after receiving a medical opinion to notify their employer.
Either way, there’s a time limit on filing a report, and you probably won’t want to cut it close.
Failing to notify an employer in a timely manner can also raise suspicions. The sooner you report an injury, the sooner you can take the next steps, so there would be no real benefit to delaying the process. Even if an injury seems minor at first, you should promptly document it to avoid raising eyebrows should it worsen or require medical attention down the road. If it looks like you are trying to cheat the system, you will have a harder time closing the case.
2. Not Disclosing Previous Work Injuries
When you are dealing with workers’ compensation, it is necessary to report any past work-related injuries you have received on the job. Even if those injuries previously went unreported or have nothing to do with the current one, your transparency will prevent you from being accused of workers’ compensation fraud and potentially losing out on compensation entirely.
The obligation to disclose previous injuries also applies when you are relaying your medical history at a doctor’s office, communicating with an insurance company, and speaking to a workers’ compensation case manager. If there is ever a time to disclose, you should disclose.
Sometimes, an employer’s insurance company will try to use your medical history against you by saying that your current injury stems from a pre-existing condition, but it’s easier to prove that the cause of your injury was work-related than it is to fight charges of fraud.
3. Not Reporting All Injuries From the Get-Go
Another way people can get accused of workers’ compensation fraud is by failing to report all injuries from the beginning. Say you break your leg in a fall and you also hurt your wrist. You may see a doctor primarily to address your leg injury, but it is important to make note of the wrist pain, too, that way if it requires medical attention later, it won’t look like you’re making up a new injury after the fact to claim more money.
These “injuries” extend beyond breaks, sprains, and pains. You should also report any symptoms that arise from the work-related injury. Nausea, blurred vision, fatigue, shortness of breath, and impaired motor functions are all good examples of other potential work-related symptoms you would want to mention.
At every stage of the treatment process, keep your doctor in the loop on what you are experiencing. There is no complaint too small to mention and no harm that comes from over-communicating. It is better to be safe from the get-go than sorry you didn’t vocalize injuries sooner.
After an initial evaluation by your doctor, they will tell you how much, if any, work you are able to do with the ailments you’ve presented them. With their recommendation, you can begin to figure out how work will play a factor in your recovery.
4. Not Resuming Work Once You’re Able To
In workers’ comp cases where an employee takes a leave of absence to recover from an injury, the employer is required to offer the injured person a suitable position back at the company once they are able to work again. In turn, the employee who was injured has an obligation to accept the position they are offered.
If a recovered employee declines the position that they are offered, the situation can get messy. Not only can it be considered a voluntary limitation of income, potentially cutting off their compensation and benefits, but it can even justify being fired by an employer for refusing to work.
Even if you believe the position you have been rehired to do is outside the realm of your capabilities, you have to at least try performing its required duties before challenging your employer. If you give the job your best effort and find that it truly is too difficult given your restrictions, you can make a claim that the position is not working out.
Sometimes work restrictions lead to employees making significantly less than they did before their injury. If the position you’re offered pays less than 80% of what you used to make, your insurance carrier is obligated to provide you with Temporary Partial Disability (TPD) benefits.
5. Representing Yourself in a Workers’ Comp Case
People can technically represent themselves if they would like to, but taking on a workers’ comp case without proper legal representation is a risky move. The law is tricky territory to maneuver, especially on your own. Even insurance companies and employers generally consult with lawyers when it comes to workplace injuries, and both parties will poke a hole in your case wherever possible to cut costs on their end. You are going to want a professional by your side as any issues begin to unfold.
Hopefully, you will never need to deal with a job injury—or its legal aftermath—but having a loose plan in place should you find yourself hurt could be the difference between fair and unfair compensation. You have plenty to gain by avoiding these common mistakes, and just about nothing to lose.