Navigating Workers Compensation Claims After an Injury
Not so long ago, in the land of Ms. Career Girl, we talked about the importance of protecting yourself from the perils of dangerous work environments. Constant vigilance, unfortunately, can only take you so far.
No matter how careful you are, there is always a small chance that you will be injured at work. While you should do what you can to avoid injury, it would be in your best interest to know about the workers compensation process before the injury occurs.
Take Timely Action.
Inform your HR department of a work related injury or illness as soon as possible. If you are physically and mentally able to, it’s best if you file the report the day of the injury. The sooner you file, the sooner you will receive your workers compensation benefits.
You should also be aware that many states have strict deadlines for how long employees have to file a claim. How much time you have to report an injury or file a claim is based on state law. South Carolina for example, gives employees 90 days to report an injury and 2 years to file a claim.
File the Workers Compensation Claim
In most cases, the company will file the claim for you. All you need to do is fill out the paperwork and hand it into the individual appointed to handling workers compensation claims. That individual within the company will than submit the claim to the agency that handles worker’s compensation in your state and notify their worker comp insurer about the claim. In South Carolina that organization is the Workers’ Compensation Commission
In rare cases, the company might not be willing to file the claim due to the fact they don’t believe an incident occurred that requires an employee receive workers compensation. In this case, you can file a notice of claim or a complaint form yourself (depending on the state). If you don’t want to go down this path yourself, you might consider at least consulting a local attorney that offers free consultation.
No workers compensation is ever awarded without some type of investigation.
The investigation is meant to determine the validity of the claim. Insurance companies are a businesses who (reasonably) don’t want to pay employees for false or over exaggerated claims (AKA workers compensation fraud). And to be realistic, they are also businesses who it is within their best interest to investigate every other avenue that might reduce the amount they must pay out to individuals who file claims.
Typical investigations (conducted by the employer) can involve a post-accident drug and alcohol test.
Insurance investigators typically require you to see a workers compensation approved doctor. If you feel like the doctor is being biased, you can request to see a second-opinion doctor.
The investigation might also involve the insurance company hiring private investigators to catch you doing anything that will prove you aren’t as injured as you claim. They might call you, talk to your neighbors, observe your house, or follow you on errands.
The modern technology has opened up new avenues for workers compensation investigations: social media platforms. Investigators will comb through your social media platforms for any incriminating photos or posts. Don’t post any ‘funny’ or ‘joking’ status updates about you doing physically strenuous activities while injured.
Injuries can and do happen at work (even to the most cautious and safety conscious individuals.) It will be in your best interest to know what you need to do when the accident occurs. It will be up to you to ensure that you receive the amount in workers compensation you deserve.
Safety First JK Keller
Calendar studio curve
Investigator Quinn Dombrowski