How Do I Maximize My Workers’ Comp Settlement?
If you have a work-related injury or illness, you may be entitled to receive workers’ compensation benefits. Workers’ compensation benefits are intended to provide pay and medical help for those injured on the job.
Getting the most out of your benefits is an important part of making sure you and your family have what you need during the time it takes for you to heal.
Tips for Getting the Most from Your Settlement
Taking the right steps after you’re injured or have a work-related illness can be key to maximizing your workers’ comp settlement. Following these steps can strengthen your claim and help you get the most benefit from this insurance.
1. Make Your Employer Aware of Your Injury
If you’re hurt on the job, you should tell your employer as soon as you can. Waiting too long can make your claim seem suspicious. Some employers will have a form for you to fill out. If they don’t, you can use the form provided by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).
Employer notification is a critical requirement for all workers’ comp claims. Workers who are injured on the job cannot be fired or harassed because of their injury. If your employer seems hostile, you should seek the help of a workers’ compensation attorney.
2. Seek Medical Attention and Keep Copies of Everything
It’s a bad idea to wait a few days to see if you get better. If you’re hurt while working, go see a doctor immediately. If your employer wants to call an ambulance or have you talk to a company nurse, follow their advice.
Complications from on-the-job injuries can take years to reveal themselves. If you try to “tough it out,” it may be too late to get compensation later on.
Also, keeping detailed medical records is crucial. These records will show what treatments you currently need and what you might need in the future. Having quick access to these records can help ensure you get the help you need to pay for your care.
3. Don’t Wait to File Your Workers’ Comp Claim
Making your employer aware of your injury is not the same as filing your workers’ compensation claim. To qualify for workers’ comp benefits you must do both. You’re entitled to coverage for your lost wages and medical costs, so it’s important not to miss a step.
4. Be Honest and Consistent
When speaking to your employer, your doctor, or an insurance adjuster, be honest and consistent with your answers. Don’t keep information to yourself, but don’t make things up either. Always be specific with your responses.
Insurance companies are for-profit institutions. They want to make money, so they don’t want to pay out on claims. They will be looking for reasons to deny your claim.
One way to do this is for them to find pre-existing conditions. If you had a prior injury or condition, don’t hide it, but do make sure you had no disabling conditions that would have caused your injury, and get expert proof of the same.
5. Use Caution When Giving Medical Authorizations
Your medical or mental health records are not the business of an insurance company. Don’t give them a general release for your medical records. Also, be wary of signing any documents provided by an insurance company if you don’t have a workers’ compensation lawyer look over them first.
If you do sign an authorization for the release of medical records, be sure it only gives access to work-related information and is dated after the accident.
Don’t trust that you must sign their version of a medical authorization form. You can make changes in ink to their form, make up your own, or have an attorney represent you for medical releases.
6. Choose Your Doctor
Many workers’ compensation insurance companies have doctors they work with. This may mean the doctor has an inherent conflict of interest. Sometimes, doctors may deny tests or medications, or say you can return to work so they’ll continue to get regular compensation from an insurance company.
If at any time you have doubts or questions about a doctor’s diagnosis or treatment plan, you should get a second opinion. A workers’ compensation attorney can help you with legal guidance.
7. Prepare for an Independent Medical Exam
At any time, your employer’s workers’ compensation insurance company can ask you to have an Independent Medical Exam (IME). This is an exam that would be conducted by an insurance company doctor.
These are normally requested after a worker has reached Maximum Medical Improvement (MMI). This means that an injured worker won’t get better with further treatment.
After reaching MMI, your doctor may give you an impairment rating. This rating qualifies you for partial permanent disability benefits. The insurance company will send their doctor for an exam and a second opinion.
The IME doctor doesn’t work for you, they work for the insurance company. If you have been asked to submit to an IME, you should consider getting legal advice from a workers’ compensation lawyer.
8. Watch Out for Recorded Statements
The workers’ comp insurance company will want to hear your side of the story. That’s a fair expectation, but it isn’t fair if they ask tricky questions then use your responses to deny your claim or reduce your benefits.
Don’t submit to recorded questioning early in the claims process. You can say “no,” or you can let them know you’re not well enough to answer questions. Having an attorney present is a good idea. But if you don’t have a lawyer, make sure you don’t respond to recorded questions while tired or under the influence of pain medications.
Contact NST Law for Help with Your Workers’ Compensation Claim
Workers’ compensation attorneys know how to help you get the most from your claim. One of the six guiding pillars at NST Law is that we pursue maximum compensation for our clients in every legal pursuit we undertake on their behalf.
Contact NST Law today to be sure you get everything you deserve from your workers’ compensation claim.