The moment someone suffers an injury at work is the moment most people start to worry about their financial situation and ask questions like: How will I pay my medical bills? How long will I be away from work? What will this do to my finances? Will I be compensated for childcare? What will happen if the doctor says I'm disabled?
Because of the serious financial impact workplace injuries can have on individuals and their families, it's incredibly important for workers to maximize the amount of compensation they can get from their claim. How can they do that? Simple, follow these 10 recommendations:
1. Get medical attention right away. Just because you're not experiencing pain or discomfort right now doesn't mean you don't have a serious work-related injury. Getting a proper diagnosis from a qualified doctor right away ensures a proper start time on your claim and an accurate paper trail for your workers' comp claim.
2. Report all superadded injuries. If you need to overcompensate for an existing injury and suffer a new injury as a result, you should report this immediately. Overuse, or "superadded injuries," are just as compensable as an initial injury.
3. Don't refuse recommended procedures. The doctor you're seeing about your injuries is the expert, not you. Don't refuse recommended treatments, procedures or therapies that could speed up your recovery.
4. Obtain psychological care when necessary. Some work-related injuries can lead to depression, anxiety and other mental health conditions that can greatly impact your job performance or ability to return to work.
5. Promptly get prescriptions filled and take advantage of refill opportunities when needed. To ensure the integrity of your claim, make sure to fill prescriptions and start taking medication right away. Even if your symptoms seem to be improving, don't hesitate to get a refill if one is available. You don't know if your symptoms could return or if you'll re-aggravate your injury later on.
6. Keep a detailed record of medical care and employment. It never hurts to have a back-up record to show the workers' compensation insurer, especially if they do not request or receive everything necessary for full compensation.
7. Don't skip doctor's visits until your doctor says you've recovered. Don't make the mistake of diagnosing your own recovery. Leave that to the professionals if you don't want to jeopardize your claim.
8. Don't speak to a workers' compensation adjuster until you've talked to a lawyer. Adjusters may ask leading questions designed to get you to offer up information that could jeopardize your claim. If you want to maintain its integrity, don't say anything you haven't cleared with your lawyer first.
9. Follow your employer's workers' compensation claim process precisely. Don't give the insurance adjuster or your employer a reason to deny your claim because of a simple procedural mistake.
10. If you were disabled, keep a record of all attempts to seek other employment. If you are unable to return to your previous job because of a disability, then it's in your best interest to keep a record of all attempts to seek new employment. Under Georgia law, you can receive workers' comp benefits for vocational rehabilitation if you are unable to return to your previous job.