A: There are many mistakes that you should avoid making. The best way to avoid them all is to seek the advice of an experienced workers’ compensation attorney. However, some of the most common include:
- Signing a general release. This means that you sign a release for the workers’ compensation carrier to get any medical records pertaining to you but does not name a specific medical provider. The insurance carrier may use it to obtain ANY prior medical records not just medical records related to your workers’ compensation claim.
- Thinking that the workers’ compensation adjuster will “take care of you” just because he or she says they will. If you are not under an Award for benefits, the workers’ compensation insurance company can terminate your benefits at any time. Even if your workers’ compensation adjuster is the nicest most trustworthy person and meant every word he or she said, that person will probably not always be the adjuster on your case. Insurance adjusters change all the time and the next adjuster might not be quite as nice or trustworthy. It is your job to be sure that your rights are protected under the Act. That means filing a claim for benefits with the Virginia Workers’ Compensation Commission.
- Asking for lost wages when you are not under an Award and are not looking for a job. If you are not yet under an Award and your doctor says you can work in some capacity, then you have to look for a job. You will not be eligible for or awarded wage benefits if you are not looking for a job and you have some ability to work. This applies even if you do not think you can work but your doctor thinks you can. This applies even if you are able to go back to work for the employer and are still employed by them and they gave you a job working less hours. You need to try to find a job to make up the difference in your income.
- Not attending vocational rehabilitation meetings. If you have an ability to work in some capacity and have been assigned to vocational rehabilitation, you have to attend the vocational rehabilitation meetings. You need to cooperate as fully as possible with the vocational counselor, do everything that is asked of you, and be polite while doing it. The vocational counselor can have your benefits terminated just by telling the adjuster that you are not attending the meetings or cooperating in some way.