Avoid These 10 Common Mistakes In Your Virginia Worker’s Comp Claim
It is our right as workers to be compensated for job-related injuries. Still, too many injured workers don’t receive the benefits they need and deserve. Why does this happen? There are many things that could go wrong when an employee seeks injury compensation. Be aware of the biggest mistakes that could hurt your Virginia worker’s compensation claim. Here are the top 10 workers’ comp traps to avoid.
1. Refusing to report or file your claim
Right off the bat, you may experience things that could stop you from even reporting your injury. For many people, it’s the fear of getting fired or being retaliated on by their employer. Others might think that a compensation claim would be stressful, or that it’s an unnecessary hassle.
Remember that you are protected by Virginia law if you pursue a worker’s comp claim. It would be illegal for your employer to fire you or retaliate against you. In addition, the claims process would not be an unnecessary hassle if it means getting the benefits that can greatly help your recovery. Having a compassionate lawyer on your side also makes the process easier and less stressful for you. Don’t be afraid to claim the worker’s comp you are entitled to.
2. Delaying your reporting and filing
Do not claim compensation but wait to file. Missing the deadline invalidates your claim. Notify your employer in writing within 30 days of your injury and file your Claim Form with the Virginia Workers Compensation Commission within two years of the accident.
Do not delay reporting and filing. Waiting even a day or two before reporting your injury could be taken to mean that your case is not as serious as you claim.
3. Delaying your medical care
Similarly, don’t put off going to the doctor. An innocent-looking bruise could later turn out to be a serious concussion or a lifetime of chronic muscle pain. It’s important to let a physician assess the full extent of your injury.
You want to demonstrate that the damages you’re claiming for are real and not negligible. If you delay your doctor’s visit, anyone could say that your injury is not serious enough to be compensated.
4. Believing people who say you don’t have a claim
Youe employer or their insurance representative might say there is not enough merit to your case after you file a claim. We’ve seen some employers try to trick their employees by saying that the injury should have been reported within 24 hours (for the record, this is not a real deadline). Many insurance adjusters outright deny a claim soon after it is filed.
Never give up your right without at least asking about it. If you are unsure of the process or have doubts about your next step, consult a workers’ comp attorney. Your initial consultation with us at Slominski Law is completely free of charge and confidential, so you risk nothing by talking to us.
5. Believing that the insurance adjuster is on your side
Insurance adjusters might talk to you in a cordial and professional manner, but they work for the insurance company and your employer – not for you. It’s well-known that insurers will employ tactics to protect their bottom line, at the expense of your workers’ comp settlement.
When communicating with an insurance rep, you want to avoid saying things that could undermine your claim. Sometimes, even saying “I’m fine” can cost you your ideal settlement. Before signing or saying anything, let your lawyer guide you.
6. Accepting a settlement offer too early
An early settlement offer is often a lowball offer. Many injured workers sadly accept much less than they deserve, without negotiating for a better settlement. Timing is important to help maximize your compensation. Your attorney should be experienced in determining the optimum time to consider a settlement.
7. Pursuing your claim by yourself
You do not need to risk going it alone. A worker’s comp lawyer can help you in your claim. Many lost claims could have succeeded if only they had proper legal guidance. Anything from accomplishing the forms to talking with insurance adjusters could make a claimant lose their footing. A lawyer helps you avoid these pitfalls, and gives you much more negotiating power.
8. Not being honest with your attorney
Be forthcoming about anything that could be relevant to your claim. A common example is medical history. Insurers love to examine old illnesses and say that your current injury is all about your “pre-existing condition” and nothing to do with your job. This is something your lawyer should know early on, so that they can protect your claim from such damaging attempts.
9. Not following the doctor’s orders
If you decide to skip on medication, miss doctor’s appointments, or forgo the recommended rehabilitation, it can be taken as a sign that your health is much better than it actually is. Even worse, if your employer or the insurance company finds out that you are disobeying the physician, they could report you to the Workers’ Compensation Commission, and your benefits could end.
What if you don’t agree with the assigned doctor’s orders? You may request the Commission to change your physician.
10. Returning to work too early
While you are recovering from your injury, you can expect to be offered some level of work that the insurance company thinks you might be able to do. Don’t go back to work right away. Instead, ask for a list of the proposed job duties and have your physician review it. Never do any work without your doctor’s approval. Doing so would show that you are well enough and ready to stop receiving your benefits.
Call Slominski Law
If you have any concern at all regarding your worker’s injury claim in Virginia, reach out to Attorney Jaleh K. Slominski. She is trusted by numerous Virginian employees for her tireless and effective legal service in workers’ compensation claims. Call the Slominski Law Lynchburg office at (434) 205-9864, or our Roanoke office at (540) 858-8603.