Important Tips for Workers Injured on the Job
Injured workers and their families can depend on workers’ compensation benefits to cover expensive medical bills and make up for lost earnings in the aftermath of a work-related accident or illness. Getting these benefits, however, can be challenging, as:
- The workers’ compensation claims process can be complicated.
- Missing a deadline or making other mistakes along the way can trip up a claim, increasing the risk that benefits may be reduced or claims may be denied.
To overcome these issues and position these claims for success, the following shares some important tips for injured workers pursuing workers’ compensation claims. While these tips are generally helpful, you are invited to contact the Law Office of James A. Hicks, LLC whenever you need specific advice related to your situation and claim.
Hurt on the Job?
Diagnosed with an Occupational Illness?
Call (732) 767-1300 or Email Us for Important Answers about a Workers’ Compensation Claim
You will not be filtered through a non-lawyer associate when you contact the Law Office of James A. Hicks, LLC. Attorney James A. Hicks answers his own phone and promptly responds to all voicemails and emails. He is ready to review your potential claim, advise you on how to move forward and provide you with superior advocacy throughout the claims process.
How to Set a Workers’ Compensation Claim Up for Success: 8 Important Tips for Injured Workers
Taking these steps as you prepare to file a workers’ compensation claim (and as your claim proceeds) can be integral to protecting the strength and value of your claim – and to setting the claim up for the maximum benefits available:
- Report the incident or injury to your employer as soon as possible – Verbally or in writing, inform a supervisor (or any on-site authority) about the work accident, injury or illness as soon as the incident occurs or the injury/illness is discovered. While New Jersey law provides up to 90 days to make this report,1 waiting days or weeks to file the report can give the employer and/or the insurance company room to dispute the injury. That, in turn, can provide leverage to reduce benefits or deny claims.
- Get medical treatment immediately – In the event of serious injuries, seek emergency medical care. If the injuries are moderate and not life threatening, inform your employer that you need medical treatment so the employer (or insurer) can provide some options for treating physicians. Delaying medical care can provide insurers with the leverage to argue against the severity of your injuries. Seeing whatever doctor you choose for non-emergency care can lead to a reduction or denial of medical benefits for a claim.
- Follow through with all prescribed medical treatment(s) – This is crucial to physically healing from a work injury and minimizing the risk of further health complications. It can also be critical to the approval of a claim and continued payment of benefits. If injured workers fail to continue with the prescribed treatments, insurers can allege that the injuries have healed, that they don’t require any more treatment and/or that they are no longer preventing someone from returning to work. This too can mean that claims are denied or benefits are terminated.
- Prepare yourself for the independent medical exam (IME) – The IME is conducted by a physician the insurer selects. Rather than being focused on treatments, the IME will involve an exam, a medical history review and a final report regarding how or whether the injury impacts a worker’s ability to return to work. Consequently, IMEs can be a barrier that insurers use in or after the claims process to try to avoid paying benefits. Being prepared for tricky questions, knowing your medical history and bringing someone with you to an IME can be helpful ways to prepare for these appointments.
- Keep everything – This includes any documents, bills or other correspondence from your employer, the insurance company and/or medical providers. Generally, it’s advised that all of these records are kept in one place (like in a binder), where they can be easily located at any point as a claim proceeds. These records can be important to supporting a claim. They can also be helpful to proving the wrongful denial of claims.
- Do NOT trust that insurers will be looking out for you or your claim – In the interests of protecting the company’s profits, insurers will commonly look for ways to limit benefits and/or deny claims. So, don’t rely on them to explain or honor your rights when you file a claim and as you move through the claims process.
- Expect to be surveilled – Surveillance is a common tactic used by insurers in the workers’ compensation claims process. This may include investigators following claimants and taking photos or video recordings for three or more days at a time. While insurers say they surveil claimants to prevent fraud and verify the injuries, the reality is that they can and do use surveillance to try to minimize claimants’ injuries and “catch” them doing things that may go against doctors’ orders. When that occurs, insurers may, again, have leverage to deny a claim or terminate benefits.
- Contact the Law Office of James A. Hicks, LLC – Given that insurers may be actively looking to limit benefits or deny your claim – and given the complexity of the workers’ compensation claims process, having an experienced advocate on your side can be pivotal to the success of your claim – and to getting the benefits you need and deserve. Attorney James A. Hicks is ready guide you through the claims process and protect your rights at every step along the way.
An Experienced Advocate Is Ready to Guide You through the Claims Process: Contact Middlesex County Workers Compensation Lawyer James A. Hicks
If you or a loved one has suffered work-related injuries or has been diagnosed with an occupational illness, contact Middlesex County Workers Compensation Lawyer James A. Hicks for essential insights about your legal options and the highest quality representation as you move forward.
Call (732) 767-1300 or email us.
Attorney James A. Hicks, who has been certified by the Supreme Court of New Jersey as a workers’ compensation law attorney since 2003, has the experience, knowledge and skills to effectively represent injured New Jersey workers in any type of workers’ compensation case.
Let Mr. Hicks explain how he can help you pursue the benefits you may deserve. From offices in Middlesex County, Attorney James A. Hicks is proud to represent injured workers and families from across New Jersey.
1: According to information from the New Jersey Department of Workers’ Compensation (DWC)