Today I want to give you some tips on Workers’ Compensation. What’s important? What are some of the problems that people run into with workers’ compensation, and how to get them most out of your workers’ compensation settlement.
We just had a very successful mediation today in downtown Atlanta, at the headquarters of the state board of workers’ compensation, and the case that we had had many different areas where there were issues involved. It turns out that it was sort of a good way to analyze any workers’ compensation case because this case had problems with:
- some of the doctors, etc..
Luckily we got that all worked out, but it’s a good way to approach a workers’ compensation case to understand where problems may occur and how to get the most out of your workers’ compensation case. Let’s go over the basics.
What is Workers’ Compensation?
You’ve been injured at work. So it doesn’t matter whose fault it was. If you were injured at work, you may be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits.
Were You an Employee? Or Were You an Independent Contractor?
If you’re an employee, you may be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits. But if you’re an independent contractor, and you’re being paid via 1099 wages, then you may not be entitled to it. But these are all legal analysis that have to take place when you’re involved in a workers’ compensation case.
As the Employer
If you have 3 or more employees, then you are required to carry workers’ compensation insurance. It does not have to be that expensive depending on the type of trade or business you’re in.
What Happens When You Get Injured?
If you’re an employee, and you feel like you have to file for workers’ compensation benefits, there’s 2 main dates or time periods that you need to remember:
- You have 30 days to give your supervisor or immediate boss notice of your injury- This is an issue that comes up a lot in a case and is a point that the insurance companies are going to fight you on if you don’t report it on time. You can fill out an incident report, or any sort of report that will document the injury or even an email or a text. Keep in mind that you want to put something in writing, because even if you just tell somebody, then it’s hard to prove it later. You don’t want to leave it up to hearsay, when when party says I told them, and the other party says “No you didn’t.” Now going to the doctor the same day of your injury also helps, but be sure to notify your boss right away.
- You have one year to file a claim for workers’ compensation benefits- This is different from other types of injuries. Normally you could have 2 years to file a lawsuit, but not with workers’ compensation. So you have to act a lot quicker. We run into a lot of instances where a client will call to file a claim, but there is nothing that could be done because they waited too long to take action, or didn’t notify their employer soon enough.
Something Else to Remember
When you get treatment, each employer is “supposed” to have a panel of doctors. This list of doctors are who you could go to for treatment. Unless it’s an emergency, you cannot just go see whoever you want, you’ve got to go to somebody on your employer’s doctor list.
Now there are exceptions to this, and there are numerous ways for you to see a physician who is not on your employer’s panel. Call our law firm so we could assist you in visiting the doctor of your preference.
Now if your employer does NOT have a panel of doctors, then the Law Offices of Matthew C. Hines can assist you into going to see any doctor you desire. Sometimes the doctors on their panel list is not that good, so there may be benefits to seeing the doctor of your choice.
This One Case in Particular
We had a client who got injured, and did actually go see one of the doctor’s on the employer’s panel. The doctor on the panel recommended orthopedic treatment. Since his employer did not offer an orthopedic doctor from the panels list, our client chose their own doctor. Later on, the patient (our client) accumulated quite the medical expense from all the visits.
Fast forward a year later, the employer tells our client that they are not going to foot the bill since none of the doctors were on their panel list of doctors. Of course our response was, “You never gave us the panel. How were we supposed to use one of your doctors if you never showed us who that was? ”
The insurance company wasn’t going to pay our client anything. This is why it’s important to have an experienced law firm representing you. A lot of these issues could have been avoided had the client seeked our services immediately after the injury.