Even skilled, experienced workers make mistakes, and you can be injured at work through no fault of your own. The attorneys at The Eichholz Law Firm know all too well how quickly things can move once that happens—insurance adjusters calling to demand statements, bosses wanting to know when you’ll be back to work, and doctors appointments taking forever to be scheduled. It can be difficult to know what to do, adding unnecessary pressure to an already stressful situation.
Your actions, or lack thereof, early in your workers’ compensation case can play a key role in setting yourself up for success or failure, or at the very least, making the process even more difficult and nerve-racking than it already can be. At The Eichholz Law Firm, we represent honest, hardworking individuals who are looking for experienced guidance during this trying time in their lives.
Most people who get injured on the job don’t know what they should do, and often more importantly, what they should NOT do. You may never have had a work injury before, and your employer and coworkers may not have your best interests at heart, or they simply may not know how to properly advise you. Even your loved ones and friends who WANT what’s best for you may not actually KNOW what’s best for you. Therefore, The Eichholz Law Firm wants to provide a helpful list of common mistakes that accident victims make, especially early in their workers’ compensation cases. This is by no means an exhaustive list, and every case is different, so be sure to discuss your claim in detail with your attorney at The Eichholz Law Firm.
Workers’ Compensation Cases: DOs and DON’Ts
- DO report your injury to a supervisor right away. Workers’ compensation law in Georgia imposes strict time limits which require you to inform a supervisor that you have suffered a work injury. Failure to report it in a timely manner can seriously jeopardize your case and could even destroy it. Don’t be someone who tries to get help once it’s already too late. Get in front of the process, rather than being left behind.
- DON’T try to “play through the pain.” The people that The Eichholz Law Firm represents embody the American “can-do” attitude and do the jobs that we all rely on to make modern life possible. Many of these people justifiably take pride in their work ethic and ability to do their job no matter what. However, the aftermath of a serious work injury is no time to prove that. The more time that passes while you work after an injury, the more you can endanger not only your health but any potential workers’ compensation claim you may have. Don’t risk it.
- DO ask to see a panel of physicians. By law, employers MUST maintain a panel of physicians. This lists the doctors you may choose to see you, at least initially, for your work injury. Going to see your personal doctor may seem to make the most sense, but workers’ comp may not be required to pay or reimburse you for any off-panel treatment. Workers’ compensation exists in part to help you by taking care of approved medical expenses. Make sure you’re in the best position to make use of that benefit.
- DON’T select an urgent care from the panel. Urgent cares are great, convenient, and have their place in our community. They’re fantastic for when you just need a stitch or two, or another relatively minor, one-time medical need, but they are not set up to manage long-term care. If you select one from the panel, you could wind up with an urgent care facility calling the shots for your medical treatment for the life of your case, and it could be difficult to change that. The Eichholz Law Firm suggests that you select an orthopedist for most injuries or inquire with your workers’ comp lawyer to determine the type of doctor that can provide the care you need. Even if the specific panel doctor can’t help with your particular injury, they can likely refer you to someone who can.
- DO tell all medical personnel that you were injured on the job. Workers’ comp insurance companies place a lot of weight on what you tell both your supervisor and medical personnel at the beginning of your claim. To help ensure that your injury is treated under workers’ comp, you MUST be clear that you were injured at work. Doctors need to draw a straight line between your work activities and your injury, and not being clear that you were hurt AT WORK can have serious repercussions later in your case. Do not equivocate or say, “I think it was at work,” or “Maybe I hurt it doing yard work.” You must be clear and direct that you were injured on the job.
- DON’T quit your job. Workers’ compensation can be a long, frustrating process. The truth is, it’s meant to be. Insurers would rather you give up and try to find another job rather than stick it out through the workers’ comp process. But if you quit your job, you could damage your case’s value as well as cost yourself weekly benefit checks. Your job, the insurance company, and lots of people might make you feel like quitting, but DON’T.
- DO seek the advice of a workers’ comp lawyer. Chances are, you don’t know how to navigate a workers’ compensation case. Trust those that do. A workers’ compensation attorney can advise you on the benefits and limitations of the workers’ compensation system and guide you through the process. The sooner you contact The Eichholz Law Firm, the fewer missteps you risk harming your case.
- DON’T give a recorded statement. Often after you report a workers’ compensation claim, you will be contacted by a workers’ comp insurer to give either a written or recorded statement. This is a perilous moment in the life of your claim. Cases have been lost on the basis of recorded statements, often taken when you’re not even sure how you were injured. Insurance adjusters can twist your words or even make you doubt your own recall of events. Without representation, you run the risk of damaging or even destroying your case. Speak with an attorney at The Eichholz Law Firm first—someone who is truly on your side.
- DO keep all medical appointments. Workers’ compensation insurers can potentially deny you benefits if you are deemed “non-compliant,” meaning you are not regularly attending medical appointments as they are set. Sometimes life happens, and an absence is unavoidable, but make sure to give your attorney as much advance notice as possible so they can try to have your appointment rescheduled.
- DON’T let your guard down on social media. Workers’ compensation claimants are often placed under surveillance. This can mean, among other things, that your social media posts and perhaps even private messages can be misconstrued or otherwise used against you and your claim. Depending on your individual case and circumstances, all of these could potentially be discoverable material. During a workers’ compensation claim, The Eichholz Law Firm believes that the best social media policy is silence.
When you are injured on the job, this can be a difficult time in your life. First, you are likely in pain and coming to terms with an injury that may impact you for years to come. Then, once you report your workers’ compensation claim, you will be thrown into a legal world that is unfamiliar and subjected to unwanted scrutiny. To ensure you are treated fairly and receive the workers’ compensation settlement you deserve, The Eichholz Law Firm is here to listen to your story. Our empathy and compassion set us apart from other Savannah workers’ comp attorneys. To learn more about The Eichholz Law Firm’s workers’ compensation services or to schedule your FREE case evaluation today, give us a call at 855-551-1019. We stand for YOU.