Avoid the most common mistakes made by injured workers in Georgia
After being injured on the job, the first thing that you want to do is seek medical attention so that you can have the proper documents to file a workers’ compensation claim. After that, there are a few steps that you will need to take so that the claim is processed correctly.
In addition, you’ll want to avoid these common mistakes while pursuing your workers’ compensation benefits:
Mistake #1: Not reporting your accident or injury
One of the most common mistakes you can make when filing for workers’ compensation is not reporting the injury to your employer. As soon as the incident happens, you should alert your employer (preferably in writing) so that the details are recorded in a timely manner.
If the injury isn’t reported when it happens or a report isn’t made at all, then your employer could claim that the injury didn’t happen on the job. This could result in not being able to obtain workers’ compensation benefits.
Mistake #2: Waiting too long to seek medical attention
You should seek medical attention as soon as possible after an injury on the job. Visit an emergency room or your family physician for an exam—just as long as you have someone examine your injuries. Make sure you get documentation of the time and date you visit the doctor so that you can turn the paperwork in to your employer or your attorney when you file for workers’ compensation.
You should also make sure the doctor you see is a provider who is authorized by your employer as a treating physician. Ask your employer to provide a list of approved doctors.
If your injury is so severe that you need to go to the emergency room, do so immediately. Workers’ compensation will cover emergency medical care, regardless of whether or not the doctor is an authorized treating physician.
Mistake #3: Filing a claim for an injury not related to your job
Don’t make the mistake of thinking that you can’t file a workers’ compensation claim because you were on a break at work. In some cases, you may still be able to file a claim if the injury occurred while you’re taking a mandated break. If you were on lunch break, you may not be covered. But every case is different and you should talk to an attorney to find out your rights.
Mistake #4: Not giving enough information
Another mistake is leaving out too many details when filing a report or workers’ compensation claim. You should include the exact time and date of your injury, and how it happened. It’s better to offer too many details than not enough. If you don’t include enough information, then it could delay the processing of your claim or result in your claim being denied.
Mistake #5: Waiting too long to file a claim
You also need to file a claim in the proper amount of time as most states (including Georgia) have a statute of limitations when it comes to workers’ compensation claims. If this time passes, then you won’t be able to file.
Mistake #6: Thinking the insurance adjuster is your friend
At some point, you might have to talk to an insurance adjuster about your injury. This person may sound empathetic, friendly and seem genuinely willing to help you recover. However, understand that insurance adjusters ultimately aren’t looking out for your best interests, but rather they are trying to save their boss (the insurance company) money.
Mistake #7: Giving up due to a pre-existing condition
If you have a pre-existing condition at the time of the injury, then you might think that your claim doesn’t stand a chance. Yes, it’s true that your employer might try to say that the pre-existing condition led to your current injury, or that your condition is what’s keeping you from working. However, you should understand that you are allowed to get workers’ compensation benefits even if a work accident aggravated a pre-existing condition under Georgia laws.
This is why it’s important to have an examination and documentation by a physician who works with workers’ compensation claims to show proof that your work injury impacted your condition instead of the underlying medical condition being at fault.
Mistake #8: Accepting the initial settlement offer
After listening to your employer and the insurance adjuster, you might think that the first offer you’re given is the best you can get and so you should go ahead and settle. In Georgia, your average weekly wages and medical expenses will be used to calculate a settlement offer. However, these initial offers often fail to account for long-term and future costs associated with a work-related injury. With a little skilled negotiation on the part of your attorney, you can usually reach a higher settlement so that you have more money for your injuries.
Mistake #9: Failing to enlist help from an experienced attorney
By far, one of the biggest mistakes that people make is not seeking help from an experienced work injury attorney. Your attorney should be well-versed in workers’ compensation claims as there are many details that need to be considered. If your case goes to a hearing, then your attorney must be prepared to interact with the judge and the opposing side on your behalf.
If you have questions about filing a workers’ compensation claim in Georgia, contact our team at Westmoreland, Patterson, Moseley & Hinson in South Georgia so that we can review your case and secure the maximum benefits possible.