When an employee is hurt while on the job, worrying about how to properly make a workers’ compensation claim can add to the stress of an already difficult situation. Workers’ compensation claim mistakes can ruin a person’s chances of being duly compensated for medical expenses or receiving temporary total disability benefits or even permanent (partial or total) disability benefits. If you were hurt while working for an employer, consider calling an experienced workers’ compensation attorney at Steelman Gaunt Crowley in Rolla, Missouri, at (573) 341-8336 to schedule a consultation.
Rights of an Employee When Hurt on the Job
If an employer has five or more employees, the company must either cover its workers’ compensation obligations with an insurance carrier that is authorized to have such policies or meet the Division of Workers’ Compensation requirements to self-insure. Construction industry employers have more stringent standards, and railroad, postal, and maritime workers are covered by federal laws rather than state laws. There are exceptions to the Missouri Workers’ Compensation Law, such as employment of farm labor, domestic servants in private homes, and qualified real estate agents. When an employee is injured on the job working for a qualified employer, that employee is entitled to have his or her medical care paid for and potentially receive disability benefits.
Mistake Number One: Delaying Action
When an employee is injured, not reporting the accident/injury to the employer within 30 days may interfere with the employee’s ability to receive workers’ compensation benefits. The employee must inform the employer in writing—either on a form provided by the employer or the one provided by the Missouri Department of Labor if the employer does not provide one.
Employees may find themselves waiting to report an injury if they feel it is minor or does not affect their ability to be present at their job. However, delaying reporting the incident to the employer can be detrimental to a claim if the timeframe is missed. Report the date, time, and place of the injury and the other information requested on the form. Employees may miss the deadline if they determine the injury to be minor, but if symptoms continue or worsen and later require medical treatment or leave from work, it could be too late to receive compensation.
Mistake Number Two: Leaving Out Facts
An employee should not leave out any facts of the incident and injury when reporting to the employer. In addition to reporting to the employer, employees may need to report the incident to medical providers and attorneys.
Reporting to Medical Providers
Once an accident and injury are reported to an employer, the employee must see a medical provider. The employer has the right to choose the provider or physician, but the employee may select one at the employee’s expense. When seeing the medical provider or physician, an employee should give all the details regarding what took place and all symptoms. If a symptom or specific injury is not reported to the treating medical provider, it cannot be claimed at a later date. Everything must be reported to ensure that medical bills are fully covered and appropriate benefits are paid out. Falsifying injuries and consequently filing a fraudulent workers’ compensation claim may lead to serious consequences.
Reporting to Attorneys
If an employee hires an attorney to represent him or her, it is crucial to report all information regarding the accident and injury to that attorney. Some clients may believe that it is in their best interest to hide something from the attorney due to embarrassment or to withhold facts they believe to be unimportant. However, full disclosure is necessary. Attorneys cannot properly advise their clients without all relevant information. Keeping a written account of everything that takes place from the incident on is often helpful to prevent this issue.
Mistake Number Three: Not Keeping Accurate Records
Leaving out important facts can come from not keeping accurate records of the incident. Remember to record all details about the accident, including details about the injury or injuries and subsequent treatment. Keeping these records will help to ensure that these details are not forgotten. Even if a fact seems small, record it.
Another important step is to maintain a copy of the first form submitted to the employer regarding the accident and injury. Also keep copies of all medical records. If an attorney is hired to help with a claim, he or she will need copies of all records. Giving the attorney a full picture of the case will help to avoid common workers’ compensation claim mistakes.
Mistake Number Four: Trying To Do It All Yourself
Fully understanding the process of a workers’ compensation claim can be difficult. When someone is hurt on the job, it can cause extra stress and worry and even physical pain. This can contribute to things being missed and misunderstanding the process and the employee’s rights. Missouri has specific requirements that can vary greatly from other states, and it is important not to miss any state-specific requirements. A Missouri attorney from Steelman Gaunt Crowley may be able to help the employee better understand his or her rights and relieve some of the stress of trying to file a claim alone.
Mistake Number Five: Failure To Follow Doctors’ Orders
When an employee has seen a medical provider about an injury, he or she must follow the doctor’s orders regarding restrictions for work or any physical rehabilitation, according to the Missouri Revisor of Statutes. Getting caught performing acts beyond your doctor’s restrictions could lead to issues with receiving workers’ compensation benefits. If the parties do not agree on the need for physical rehabilitation, it may be necessary to have a hearing with the division of workers’ compensation for an order requiring the service. If ordered, any physical rehabilitation will be covered by the employer.
Consult With a Knowledgeable Attorney Today
If you are injured in a work-related accident, whether it is seemingly minor or severe, make sure you follow the proper steps to report the injury and preserve your rights. If the correct processes are not followed, you may be faced with medical bills and lost wages that could have been taken care of by your employer. To learn more about common workers’ compensation claim mistakes, consider contacting an experienced Missouri attorney at Steelman Gaunt Crowley by calling (573) 341-8336 to schedule a free consultation today.