Things You Can Do to Help Your Workers’ Compensation Claim
Employers, through their workers’ compensation insurance carriers, have a legal obligation to pay for your medical bills and part of your lost wages if you got hurt on the job. But that does not mean they will. In fact, they have been known to do everything in their power to diminish their employee’s workers’ compensation benefits. They do this by claiming that the injury happened away from work, the employee is exaggerating the injury, or that the injury was a pre-existing condition.
As such, it is up to you—the injured employee—to do everything in your power to prove that you were injured at work and that you require the highest possible medical care. Your employer, through their insurance company, must pay the wage-replacing benefits that you are owed. The following steps, are crucial in ensuring that you are treated fairly throughout this process and that your claim is accepted.
Report the Injury as Soon as Possible
It is always in your best interest to report an injury or illness to your employer as soon as possible. For some, this might mean the same day that the injury occurred. For others, who are not fully aware of the extent of the injury until later, this can mean weeks or months later. According to the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development, you should report your injury to your employer within 30 days of the injury, or within 30 days of your own knowledge of the injury/illness.
However, you have up to two years to report the injury in some cases, as with many types of repetitive strain injuries (carpal tunnel syndrome, arthritis, white finger syndrome). For example, a herniated disc is most often caused by the gradual degradation of the disc, according to the Mayo Clinic, which may have happened at work over the course of months or years. While the disc may have herniated at home, while you were tying your shoe, the actual cause of the injury could have happened at work due to the physical labor you performed on the job. Workplace illnesses resulting in cancer and other illnesses caused by toxic exposure are also usually reported at later dates.
Seek Medical Treatment as Soon as Possible
The next step in creating and collecting evidence in support of your injury is seeking medical care. If the injury was life-threatening, you already completed this step. But for many on-the-job injuries, employees are worried not just about reporting the injury but are afraid that by seeking medical care, they will end up with thousands of dollars in doctor or hospital bills.
This may be true; you might have to spend a fair amount of money out of your own pocket, especially if you do not have health insurance, to receive the medical care you need. However, it is impossible to prove the extent of your injuries if you do not see a physician. This initial medical treatment is necessary for any successful workers’ compensation claim, and evidence in support of your injury can include:
- Physician diagnosis
- MRI and CT scan reports
- Other test results.
Furthermore, workers’ comp benefits will pay for this initial medical treatment, in addition to future medical care. You should not be stuck with the bill because of an injury that occurred on the job or because of the work you do, such as repetitive strain injuries.
Do Not Jeopardize Your Claim
As horrible as it may be, your employer’s insurance company may use private investigators to surveil you. They will be on the lookout for anything that can be used to disprove your claim of injury. For example, if you hurt your back and are suffering from a herniated disc, an incriminating scene would be for the insurance company to learn that you played 18 holes of golf later that week. Social media evidence can also be used against you. During this time, it is wise to refrain from posting pictures and updates on social media, even if they are about your injury. Talk to your attorney about this further before you discuss your condition in detail over the web.
Keep in Mind You May Have to Attend an Independent Medical Examination
An independent medical examination (IME) is anything but independent. During an IME, a doctor (who is paid by your employer’s insurance company) examines your injury and analyzes prior health records, such as X-rays or MRI results. The insurance company uses this type of inspection when they desire to terminate or minimize your workers’ compensation benefits, not because they are actually concerned about your health or well-being. You must attend most independent medical examinations, and it is wise to discuss any potential IMEs with an attorney before you attend.
Hire a Wisconsin Worker’s Compensation Attorney
Attorneys are invaluable when it comes to workers’ comp claims. An attorney will provide the following services.
- File all workers’ compensation claim paperwork
- Gather and submit medical evidence needed to prove the seriousness of your injury or illness
- Advise you on what to do and what not to do in the coming months
- Negotiate workers’ comp settlement claim
- File an appeal if your claim is denied
- Represent you during any potential hearings
There is no downside to hiring an experienced Wisconsin workers’ compensation attorney. A workers’ compensation lawyer will not cost you anything to hire; there is no fee unless you win money.
Call a Wisconsin Workers’ Compensation Lawyer Today
It is a daunting task to file a workers’ compensation claim on your own. It is even more difficult to appeal a denied claim or receive the full compensation that your injury deserves if you choose to forgo legal assistance. A workers’ compensation lawyer greatly increases your chance of success when it comes to medical care, fair wage replacement, and other benefits, such as vocational training. We urge you to call Gillick, Wicht, Gillick & Graf today at 414-257-2667 to schedule a free consultation with one of our Wisconsin workers’ compensation lawyers.