Eight Mistakes by Injured Workers
1. Not Reporting Injury Immediately
If an injured worker does not report the injury or illness as soon as possible, there could be numerous obstacles that will arise. First, the employer cannot notify the workers’ comp insurer. If the insurer is not put on notice, there could be a delay in medical care and benefits. Second, the more time that has elapsed between the date of the incident and the notification to the employer, the more likely that the Employer/Insurer will be suspicious of the injury and contest the claim. In MD, you have 10 days from the date of the incident to notify the Employer of the injury or illness. If you did not notify, or if you’re worried you may not have notified, speak to a comp lawyer.
2. Not Seeking Medical Treatment Immediately
An injured worker should seek medical attention immediately following the incident, whether at an emergency room, a primary care doctor, or an urgent care facility. When getting medical care, injured workers’ should tell the doctor that the injury is work-related and how the injury occurred, so that it is documented. Also, be sure to tell the doctor of all areas of the body that sustained injury.
3. Not filing a Claim with the Maryland Workers’ Compensation Commission
Usually, the insurer for the employer will contact the injured worker to gather information on the incident and to open a claim. Most injured workers believe that if the insurer calls and opens the claim, that the medical benefits and workers’ compensation benefits will be paid. Just because a claim is filed with the insurer does not mean that the insurer has to provide medical treatment and benefits. If no claim is filed with the Commission, there is no one to force the insurer to follow procedures and pay benefits for a compensable claim. An injured worker has 2 years from the date of injury to file a claim with the Commission. We certainly urge using a good workers’ comp lawyer to file the claim. Here’s why: you may inadvertently say or write things that will later limit your right to compensation.
4. Not Obtaining Disability Notes from the Doctor
In order to receive TTD benefits from the insurer, the injured worker must receive a disability note (off-work note) from the treating doctor. If there is no note, the insurer will not pay TTD benefits. Without medical support to show why the injured worker cannot return to work and for how long, the injured worker will not get paid the benefits otherwise entitled to.
5. Posting Information on Social Media
In today’s age of technology, the first instinct for most people is to post information related to a work accident on social media. Injured workers’ should refrain from posting any information related to a work incident on social media without exception. The insurer will try, and may be able, to access all information from social media and use it to deny a claim. For example, if there are pictures of an injured worker on social media running a race when the injured worker claimed to have a knee injury, the insurer will deny the claim.
6. Failing to Follow Doctor’s Orders
While under the care of a physician, injured workers’ should follow the doctor’s instructions without exception. This means that if the doctor says that an injured worker cannot work, the injured worker should not work. If the doctor releases the injured worker to work on light-duty, then the injured worker should return to work on light duty. If a doctor releases an injured worker to light duty or full duty, and the injured worker does not return to work in any capacity, the insurer will stop benefits and the injured worker’s job could be in jeopardy.
7. Not attending IMEs
In workers’ comp, the insurer may send an injured worker for an Independent Medical Evaluation (IME) with a doctor of its choosing to determine causation of an injury, whether there is an injury, what treatment is necessary, work status, and permanent impairments. If an injured worker fails to attend an IME, the insurer can stop benefits and the entire workers’ comp claim can be delayed.
8. Not Getting an Attorney
Even in the most simple of workers’ comp claims, the insurer may not inform the injured worker of all benefits available. Also, an insurer may deny a compensable claim even if it meets the requirements for a workers’ comp claim simply to avoid expenses associated with the claim. To ensure that this doesn’t happen to you, you should contact an attorney immediately to assist you.
Unfortunately, this process is far more adversarial than you think it is.