If you get injured on the job or develop an illness due to your working conditions or environment, it can feel like everything is crumbling around you and no one is on your side. Dealing with the pain of an injury is difficult enough on its own, but when it also interferes with your ability to work and leads to costly medical treatment, it’s even more disheartening and stressful.
Workers’ compensation is designed to protect injured or disabled workers by ensuring they receive the benefits they’re entitled to when their work is the cause of their injury and hardship. Unfortunately, employers and their insurance companies don’t always do the right thing. That’s why it’s important to be diligent and know the common mistakes workers make when filing workers comp claims.
Keep reading to learn what not to do throughout the process of filing a workers’ compensation claim.
1. Waiting to Inform Your Employer of Your Injury
If you sustain an injury at work or are diagnosed with a work-related condition or illness, it’s important to report it to your employer immediately. Don’t attempt to continue working if it causes you pain or discomfort. While it’s common for workers to feel disoriented or embarrassed after sustaining an injury on the job, it’s important to take care of your health and well-being by stopping work-related activities and reporting the injury to your employer as soon as possible.
Notify your employer in writing and document all communication you have with them regarding your injury. This will serve as proof that you did your due diligence to inform them of the injury.
2. Leaving Out Details or Exaggerating Your Injury
You will be required to provide a detailed account of how your injury occurred – and the symptoms you’re experiencing as a result – both in your claim and to your doctor. It’s vital that you advocate for yourself and include any and all information relevant to your injury to have the best chance possible of receiving compensation. This includes important dates, locations, relevant prior injuries or illnesses, and evolving symptoms. Once you begin the process, it’s a good idea to write down everything you remember about the event as well as any changes in the physical symptoms caused by your injury.
It’s also important that you don’t exaggerate or invent symptoms to your doctor. Even employees who have credible cases for compensation will sometimes exaggerate the effects of their injury or omit pre-existing conditions because they’re afraid of losing their case. In workers’ comp cases, evaluating doctors will be paying close attention to any inconsistencies in your story or signs of embellishment. Your past medical history will also be evaluated and compared with your current claims.
Providing an insufficient or inaccurate report of your injury or illness will result in your case being thrown out, even if you would otherwise be entitled to compensation. Learn how to prepare for your workers’ comp evaluation in our recent blog.
3. Not Following Your Doctor’s Advice
Under Oregon law, injured workers have the right to choose where they receive medical treatment in workers’ comp cases. You can generally select your own treating doctor or choose to see one from the insurance company’s managed care organization. Your attending physician will make recommendations about your care and determine if and when you’re able to return to work. They may also recommend that you follow certain restrictions upon your return.
You should follow all of this advice throughout the entire process. Ignoring advice set out by your treating physician can seriously damage the legitimacy of your claim, and it’s a big mistake. If your doctor gives you specific modifications or limits about your work activities, you should provide written proof of these restrictions to your employer.
4. Going Back to Work Right Away
In many cases, victims of workplace injuries will be pressured by their employers to return to work before they are healthy enough to do so. It’s easy to want to get back to work out of a sense of obligation or fear of losing employment. However, it’s vital that you communicate with your doctor to determine when you can go back to work and the type of tasks you need to avoid so as to not worsen your injury.
Additionally, if you are seen performing physically stressful tasks before you have been cleared by your physician, your employer and their insurance company could use this against you to deny your claim.
5. Not Knowing Your Rights
In the vast majority of cases, employers and insurers like Oregon’s State Accident Insurance Fund (SAIF) have access to more resources, legal advice, and power than injured workers. The best thing you can do to try to balance out this disparity is to know your legal rights and responsibilities.
While many employers do care about the health and well-being of their employees, this is not always the case, and the system is unfortunately not always fair. Don’t simply follow your employer’s instructions. Do your own independent research and consider scheduling a consultation with a local work injury lawyer who specializes in fighting for workers’ rights.
Unsure where to begin? Read up on the Frequently Asked Questions that injured workers in Oregon often have about their rights and responsibilities.
6. Not Hiring a Workers’ Comp Attorney
In many cases, it’s beneficial to hire a personal work injury attorney to help you navigate the often complicated legal process and help you advocate for your rights and fight for the benefits you deserve. The process of filing a claim can be stressful and make you feel helpless and isolated. Insurance companies will often take advantage of your inexperience to deny you the compensation you need and deserve.
Having an experienced and compassionate workers’ comp attorney to advocate for you and provide legal advice significantly increases your chance of winning your case and will help you navigate this difficult and confusing process.
Have You Suffered a Workplace Injury or Illness? The Expert Attorneys at RGMR Are Here To Help
With over 70 years of combined experience, the attorneys at Ransom, Gilbertson, Martin, and Ratliff, LLP know how frustrating and intimidating the process of filing a workers’ compensation claim can be. But you don’t have to do it alone.
We specialize in helping Oregon workers navigate the legal process and fighting to ensure they get the benefits they deserve. Meet with us to discuss your case. We offer free consultations and won’t charge you anything unless we win your case.
Contact us today to discuss your situation and find out how we can help!