Attorney Michele Lewane, discusses with Health Journal all the common mistakes injured workers make when filing for benefits.
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My name is Michelle Lewane and I’m a workers comp attorney in Virginia. I work at the Injured Workers’ Lawfirm, and we believe that the world would be a better place if all injured workers could get their workers comp benefits quickly and efficently so they can get back to work and back to their normal lives.
It’s very important to protect your medical benefits when you’re hurt on the job. One of the most common mistakes that I see is the issue of the paperwork that comes along with the workers comp injuries.
There are three documents, there’s the claim for benefits, there’s the agreement form and then there’s the medical award order and different problems come along at different stages.
With the Claim for Benefits, that’s the form that you can get online either at my website or at the commission that sayd what body parts you’re asking them to cover. What the mistake is that happens there is that you don’t list all of the body parts, if you list just your neck and you have a neck and shoulder injury your shoulder won’t be covered.
It’s better in my opinion to to list just as many body parts as you think could be hurt at that time. Once you file that Claim for Benefit form the insurance company has the obligation to generate what is called an agreement form, and again in there they might only list your neck and not your neck and shoulder. Again if you sign-off on that paperwork you are giving up your right to medical care for your shoulder.
The third piece of paperwork comes from the workers’ comp commission and that’s the medical award order. How that’s generated is those agreement forms get mailed to the commission, they see everybody agrees and they generate the medical award order.
At that point they are legally required to cover those particular body parts. What happens in that stage is many times insurance companies delay filing the agreement forms or they voluntarily pay for all medical care even though they have only put the neck on the paperwork, so you don’t even understand that there is even an issue, but there is because there is a two year statute of limitations so that once that two years is up you’re prevented forever of getting the medical care on that shoulder if that the body part that had been left out.
If you’d like additional information you can go to my website and order The Ultimate Guide to Workers’ Compensation in Virginia. This would help you protect your benefits further and give you the information you need to be proactive and protect your rights.