If you are injured on the job make sure that you avoid these pitfalls that can wreak havoc with your workers compensation claim.
- Waiting to seek medical care. Insurance companies and Commissioners believe that if you are not injured badly enough to seek medical attention, you are not injured badly enough to be entitled to workers compensation. You should ALWAYS seek medical care after an injury; even a minor injury can get worse if untreated and, as I have stressed so many times before, DOCUMENTATION is KEY!!
- Not being HONEST with your doctor. When you discuss your injures with the doctor, the insurance company (and the Commissioner) will see his or her notes. It is important that you are completely honest with the doctor about your prior medical history, how your injuries happened, and your personal habits. Let the doctor know about prior injuries. Conflicting information will also destroy your credibility and this can be devastating to your case!
- Failing to get all of your injuries and pain levels properly documented. Saying you are in pain is not the same as having it documented in your medical records. You can say you are in pain all day but the DOCTOR has to be the one to document your pain and relate your pain complaints to the work injury. This is why I tell people to keep a log or diary of their pain – when it is the worst, what makes it better, or what makes it flare-up – that way you can share this information with your doctor at your appointment and be sure these issues are part of the conversations you are having with him or her.
- Showing up late or missing a doctor’s appointment. When you “no show” for an appointment with the doctor or are so late that the doctor can’t see you, typically all that is in the medical record is that the appointment was missed and you did a “no show.” The doctor’s office does not make your reason or excuse for missing the appointment part of the document so when the insurance carrier or the Commissioner sees this in your file, they could easily assume that you didn’t make it to the appointment because it was not a priority for you and this can cost you in a big way by giving the impression that you are not committed to getting better and the insurance carrier may say that you are refusing medical treatment which can cause benefits to be cut off. I always advise injured workers to keep their all of their appointments but if one has to be missed, call in advance and reschedule the appointment or let them know you are running late.
Also remember this: There is a reason why doctors prescribe a particular type of medication for a particular time period. You should follow your doctor’s recommendation until your doctor tells you something different. If you think a medication is making your muscles ache or your stomach hurt, say so; side effects are not rare, and your doctor can usually switch you to another drug. Don’t put yourself in the position where you have to admit that you chose not to follow your doctor’s advice. This can be devastating to your claim.
If you would like more information on the Virginia workers compensation system, order my book, “The Ultimate Guide to Workers Compensation in Virginia” by clicking this link, or call our office today (804) 755-7755.