Spotlight

Spotlight

5 ways you can destroy your workers' compensation claim

Posted January 17, 2019 3:23 p.m. EST

If you are injured on the job, workers' compensation provides benefits and payment to cover the cost of your medical treatment and other expenses while you take time off work to recover. (Flynt/Big Stock Photo)

This article was written for our sponsor, Whitley Law Firm.

Workers' Compensation is a type of insurance required by law in the state of North Carolina for all businesses with three or more employees.

Generally speaking, if you are injured on the job, workers' compensation provides benefits and payment to cover the cost of your medical treatment and other expenses while you take time off work to recover.

But just because your employer provides access to workers' compensation insurance, it doesn't mean the insurance company will pay out when you need it; and even if they do agree to pay, they may severely undercut what you should be receiving.

To prevent this from happening and to ensure you get your maximum insurance payout for your on-the-job injury or illness, be sure to avoid these five common mistakes.

1. You wait to get treatment for an injury.

Following an accident on the job, you may decide to wait to see if it improves before seeing a doctor. Doing so may not only cause additional physical harm, but it could negate your claim.

You will need a report from your doctor to file your workers' compensation claim, so seeking medical treatment early and receiving a diagnosis will help you get covered quicker.

If you have access to an on-site health care provider or another employer-designated provider, you should pay them a visit. Otherwise, schedule an appointment with a provider that is appropriate to your injury. Be sure to inform them that your injury happened while working and confirm your employer for billing purposes under a workers' compensation claim.

2. You don't report your injury to your employer.

You must report your injury within 30 days via a written notice to your employer, otherwise you could lose out on your workers' compensation benefits.

Your statement should describe the nature of the injury and the date of the accident. You will also need to report any past workplace injuries.

Remember to keep a copy of this report for your own records.

3. You provide a recorded statement to your employer without first getting legal consultation.

Legal consultations are typically free, and not getting one prior to providing a statement to your employer is a major mistake many people make, especially when considering that an insurance company and your employer will have lawyers working against your claim.

Speaking with an attorney first will prevent you from saying something innocently and unknowingly that could negatively impact your claim.

"Anything you say to the insurance company can be used against you to deny benefits," cautioned Ben Whitley, an injury lawyer and partner at Whitley Law Firm in Raleigh.

4. You try to settle major injury cases without an attorney.

Sometimes a settlement is the best option, but an experienced injury law and workers' compensation attorney can help you determine exactly what that settlement should be.

It is in the insurance company's best interest to settle major injury cases quickly, and if you agree to do so without an attorney, the insurance company will do its best to minimize payouts to you.

Working with an attorney will ensure someone is fighting for your best interests, not just those of the insurance company.

"Don't leave money on the table," Whitley said. "You don't want to enter negotiations without a seasoned professional on your side."

5. You hire an attorney who does not specialize in workers' compensation cases.

Workers' compensation cases require specialized training and certification.

In addition to an N.C. State Bar exam for the specialization, attorneys are peer-reviewed, required to maintain at least 400 hours of workers' compensation work each year for five years prior to the specialized certification, and must earn continuing legal education credits on the topic.

These requirements ensure lawyers are ready and able to fight for employees' benefits against specialized legal teams on the other side of the table.

Hiring an attorney without this focused work and education for your workers' compensation case would be like hiring a family care doctor to perform brain surgery. It's a much greater risk without the needed experience and credentials.

The best thing you can do now to avoid these problems later should you befall an accident is to be well-versed on workers' compensation and what you need to do should you get injured at work. The N.C. Industrial Commission provides additional helpful information on workers' compensation in the state.

If you think you have a workers' compensation case, do not hesitate to reach out to an attorney to review your case.

This article was written for our sponsor, Whitley Law Firm.