Although the purpose of the workers' compensation system is to protect and provide for workers who have been injured, covering medical expenses and lost wages, it can be a complicated process to maneuver, and just one misstep can lead to the entire claim being denied. What can you do to ensure that you will get the benefits that you need and have a right to?
Report your injury immediately
It is important to report your injury immediately to your coworkers and employer and give everyone, including medical personnel, the same account of how the accident occurred. Seek medical attention, and see a company approved doctor if it is required. If you do not report the injury immediately, insurers can claim that it wasn't very serious. Additionally, in most states, including New Jersey, there are laws requiring that you report the injury within a short period of time.
Document your injury
Witnesses to the injury are a great help in confirming your case, as unwitnessed injuries could be problematic when dealing with insurers. If there were witnesses to the injury, get statements from them as soon as possible. Fill out an accident report with your employer. Take pictures. Keep all of your medical records. Be sure that all documentation related to the injury is clear, thorough and well organized.
Cooperate with the insurer
These can be tricky waters to navigate. Insurers usually ask that the injured employee sign a release allowing the insurer access to medical records and bills. Again, the employee is not obligated to do this; the records can be obtained by the employee and sent to the insurer. However, insurers usually like to get this information themselves to ensure that they get all related records and information.
Consult an attorney
You may feel uncomfortable signing a medical release, as an insurer could obtain medical records and information that are not related to your injury. Insurers often deny legitimate claims. The system is complex, and one mistake could jeopardize your entire case. If you have been injured, a workers' compensation attorney can be invaluable in helping you through these muddy waters. The attorneys at Lieberman, Ryan & Forrest, L.L.C. are experienced in handling workers' compensation claims and will fight for your rights so you get the benefits you deserve.