Sustaining an injury at work is a common occurrence in the US. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were just over 3.5 million recordable cases of workplace injuries and illness in 2018.
While getting hurt at work is likely something you won’t be planning for, it is something you should give some thought to, considering how commonplace it is.
Below we’ll take a look at some of the most common mistakes workers make when injured on the job. These mistakes could result in a lower settlement amount or other lost benefits. Read on to avoid making these costly mistakes the next time you get hurt on the job.
Waiting to Report the Accident
Upon sustaining an injury at work, report it to your employer immediately. Waiting to report your accident can bring into question the legitimacy of your injuries, making it difficult for you to make any claims.
Even if it’s not immediately apparent you’ve been injured at work, still report the incident. Each state will have a deadline for reporting workplace accidents. For example, Nevada requires a worker to report his or her injury within seven days of the accident.
Since worker’s compensation is a type of ‘no-fault’ insurance, the worker doesn’t need to prove negligence on the part of the employer. However, delaying to report the accident is a legitimate defense that can be utilized by your employer’s insurance company. This delay can potentially cost you in injury compensation.
Failing to Disclose Previous Injuries
If you were previously hurt at work, you must disclose your injuries to your employer. Failing to do so gives your employer cause to believe your injuries were pre-existing rather than a newly acquired work injury.
Documenting and disclosing your previous injuries is all the more important if you have a pre-existing injury. If your pre-existing injuries worsened or were re-aggravated due to a workplace incident, your employer still must compensate you for the medical bills. As you can imagine, receiving compensation would be much more difficult if you failed to disclose these past injuries. In some cases, you may even be accused of workers’ compensation fraud.
Failing to Report All Injuries
Another common mistake during a workplace injury is failing to report all injuries. Your injuries may seem minor at the time of the accident. However, additional symptoms may arise days to weeks past the original time of the incident. Whether it’s nagging back pain, blurry vision, or fever-like symptoms, always let your doctor know what you’re feeling right at the outset.
As with failing to disclose past injuries, failing to report all your injuries can result in the charge of workers’ compensation fraud. The insurance company may accuse you of taking advantage of compensation by bringing up injuries long after the original incident.
Refusing to Return to Work
Depending on the severity of your injury, you’ll receive time-off work to recover. Once your doctor determines you are fit for work, you must return, even if you believe you’re not 100% healthy. At the very least, you must attempt to return to your job. Refusing to return may cost you any further compensation.
Generally, doctors will assess whether you fit in the following three categories:
- Not fit for work
- Fit for work, but with restrictions
- Fit for work based on pre-injury duties with no restrictions
You must pay close attention to the doctor’s orders. Insurance companies keep track of the status of your ‘return to work’ date. You’re required to pay back the insurance company if you continue to collect workers’ compensation payments after this date.
Not Seeking Legal Assistance
Fighting on your own against insurance companies backed by their own legal team is never a good idea. Insurance companies deal with injury claims all the time. It is in their best business interest to have you settle for a compensation amount much lower than what you could actually receive.
With an experienced personal injury lawyer, you’ll have someone who can go up against insurance companies and even potentially your employer. An attorney will help you deal with complicated legal proceedings, insurance claims, and any medical-related paperwork. They’ll come up with a strategy based on your circumstance, so you have the best chance of settling for the maximum amount.
I Was Injured at Work, What Are My Rights?
While rights differ from state to state, these few rights are generally accepted within all jurisdictions:
- Right to return to work after time off from a workplace injury
- Right to consult with a doctor on your injury
- Right for disability compensation if you are unable to return to work after an injury
- Right for legal representation
It is vital you are aware of and protect your job injury rights. Additionally, you’ll need to understand when to refuse certain offers. For example, if your employer asks you to use your health insurance to pay for medical treatment or requests you to not file a workers’ compensation claim, you have the right to refuse.
Ultimately, the best way to protect your rights after sustaining an injury at work is to hire a personal injury lawyer.
The Las Vegas personal injury attorney team at Valiente Mott can help you avoid the most common pitfalls if you got hurt on the job.
Contact us today for your free consultation!