If you have suffered an workplace injury or illness and are seeking workers’ compensation benefits, you are entering a process that can easily trip you up. There are several ways in which even an innocent mistake can cause your workers’ compensation claim to be delayed or denied. A mistake can also cost you benefits that you may be already receiving.
It’s easy to make mistakes – especially if you have never dealt with a work injury before. You also have larger concerns. You need to recover from your injury, pay your medical bills and look after your family. Unfortunately, the Florida Workers’ Compensation Division does not accept excuses – not even valid and reasonable ones.
Here are five common mistakes that workers make when filing for Florida workers’ compensation benefits and some tips on how to avoid them.
- Missing the reporting deadline.
You must report any workplace injury to your employer within 30 days of the accident or being diagnosed with an illness. If your notice of injury is late, you can be denied the right to pursue the medical and lost-wage benefits you deserve.
You should notify you employer in writing as soon as possible after an injury or illness diagnosis. Keep a copy of the notification.
- Going to an unauthorized doctor.
If you have your own doctor, of course, you would rather see him or her. However, you are required to see the doctor your employer or your employer’s insurance company tells you to see for your workers’ compensation-related injury or illness. In fact, you are supposed to ask your employer what doctor you can see when you report your injury or illness.
You can still see your own doctor. However, do not fail to see the doctor assigned by your employer. It could cost you your entire claim. You also need to follow this doctor’s orders.
- Avoiding work your employer offers you.
The objective of workers’ compensation is to provide financial assistance until you have recovered and can return to work. This includes returning to limited or “light” work duty if it is available or to a whole new position.
After seeing your assigned doctor, you must report to your employer what the doctor said, including what work you can and cannot do. If your employer offers work that the doctor says you can do, and your training and experience qualify you to do it, you must take the job. If you do not, your benefits can be discontinued.
If you disagree with the doctor, you can pursue a workers’ compensation appeal. However, you will need to be able to prove that your employer/insurer-assigned doctor is wrong.
- Taking work your employer offers you.
Right, we just finished saying you should take any work your employer offers. But returning to work too soon or to a job you can’t perform without significant pain also is a costly mistake.
The workers’ compensation benefits you receive eventually cost your employer through higher workers’ compensation insurance premiums. Your employer wants you back to work at any job because it costs less to pay you for work – even if it is just “busy work.”
If you are truly ready to go back to work, that is fine and good. If you are not ready, it could cause a setback in your recovery. If you return to full-time work and close out your claim and then suffer a relapse, you will need to reopen your claim and reestablish benefits. This creates the potential for delays, more mistakes and lost benefits.
If your employer offers you work at any level, ask for a job description and review it with the doctor handling your case. If you have your own doctor, take the job description to him or her, too. If you don’t have your own doctor, a workers’ compensation attorney can help you obtain a second medical opinion and, if necessary, proceed with an appeal.
- Accepting a claim settlement that is too soon and too little.
If a claim gets dragged out by an employer and its insurance company, it may lead to you, the employee, being ready to settle your case as soon as possible for an amount that does not truly help you.
An experienced workers’ compensation attorney can work through all the variables and make sure you are receiving the maximum benefit available to you before you close your case. If things don’t add up right, an attorney can help you appeal and get your settlement adjusted appropriately.
Contact Orlando Workers’ Compensation Lawyer, Frank M. Eidson, P.A. Today
There are mistakes anyone can make in a workers’ compensation claim that are potentially costly. Make sure to avoid them by getting skilled and experience legal help.
Frank M. Eidson, P.A., Orlando workers’ compensation lawyer, can guide you through the process to make sure you meet the system’s requirements and to ensure the workers’ compensation system takes care of you. Contact us today. We serve clients in Orlando, Winter Park and throughout Florida. We can provide a free consultation right away.