Ideally, you should get the most money from a work comp claim to ensure that you’re able to meet your financial obligations as you recuperate from your work-related injury or illness. With that in mind, here are four tips for getting the most money from a work comp claim.
Immediately Notify Your Employer
Under workers compensation laws, you have to notify your employer of your work-related injury or illness within a specified period in order to receive your workers compensation benefits. This period varies from state to state, but it typically ranges anywhere from 10 to 90 days from the date of the accident. Workers compensation in New York, for example, requires notifying an employer of an on-the-job injury within 30 days.
However, the sooner you inform your employer of your injury or illness, the better off you’ll be as you’ll have an easier time proving that you suffered the injury or illness at work.
On the other hand, if you wait too long to inform your employer of your injury, you might have a hard time proving this. Even worse, if you miss this deadline, you’ll likely lose your right to receive workers compensation benefits.
After notifying your employer of your injury, file your workers compensation claim with your local state workers comp agency within the specified period, which typically ranges anywhere from one to three years.
Seek Medical Attention
When you suffer a work-related injury or illness, you should seek medical attention immediately. This will not only help you recover quickly from the injury or illness, but doing so will also document your injury or illness and any resulting physical restrictions, thereby serving as crucial medial evidence in your workers comp claim.
Additionally, if you fail to seek urgent medical attention, your employer’s insurer may use that against you. For instance, the insurer may argue that you’re exaggerating your injury or illness or, even worse, that you never suffered a work-related injury or illness at all.
Prepare for an Independent Medical Exam
Meanwhile, prepare yourself for an independent medical examination (IME) because your employer’s insurance company will likely request one. More specifically, the insurance company will hire a doctor to perform a physical, review your medical history, and issue a report, which the insurance company can then potentially use to lower your workers compensation benefits.
That said, if the insurance company schedules an IME, ensure that you attend the appointment because if you fail to do so, the insurance company may use that as a reason to disqualify you from receiving your workers comp benefits. If you’re scheduled for an IME, ensure that your medical records are in order and be prepared to answer all the relevant medical questions from the IME physician.
If you think the results of your IME are suspect, be sure to consult with a workers compensation attorney.
Depending on your state’s workers compensation laws, you may or may not be able to choose your own doctor to treat your work-related injury or illness. More specifically, your employer or your employer’s insurance carrier can choose the initial treating doctor.
On the other hand, if your employer participates in a provider network, you would be able to choose your own physician within the network. When your employer’s doctor is your initial treating doctor, there may be a conflict of interest, meaning that the doctor may not have your best interests in mind.
For instance, the doctor may try to downplay your illness or injury in order to reduce your workers compensation benefits. If your employer’s doctor is unfair or partial, you should request to change your treating physician. While this may hurt your workers compensation claim, it will help you get the most money from your workers comp claim and more importantly, ensure you get the best treatment possible.
To get the most money from a work comp claim, report your work-related injury or illness immediately, seek urgent medical attention, prepare for an IME, and change doctors if necessary.