When you get hurt at work and you are eligible for workers' comp, your employer may try to skimp on or even avoid paying altogether. It's unfortunate, but it happens sometimes. However, there are ways to protect yourself if you know what to look out for. Read how to protect yourself if you've been injured on the job.
What might your employer do to avoid paying workers' comp?
- Force you to go back to work before you're physically able – or try to force you to work your regular job instead of the promised "light duty"
Employers' workers' comp costs are higher when injured employees miss time on the job – and indeed, you may want to go back to work because you'd like to have your full paycheck back even if you're not ready.
There is a way for you to go back to work when you've been injured on the job even when you're not quite ready to fully return to your previous work. It's called "temporary light duty" work, and it's meant to keep you in your present position even when you're still receiving medical care for your injury.
- Tell you to take care of your injury with your health insurance instead of filing a workers' comp claim
In order to use your regular health insurance, you have to say the injury is not work related. That's a lie, of course, but it's worse than that – if you try to file a workers' comp claim later, your employer can show where and how you documented that your injury was not work-related. It's basically a trick; one meant to save your employer money – and leave you out in the cold.
- Give you regular pay in lieu of filing a workers' comp claim
As an employee, you're probably happy to get your regular wages – which are usually more than workers' comp will pay during your injury – but don't fall for it. File a claim instead. Why? Because you need the record that you were injured on the job. If you don't file and you find that you're having trouble doing the job because of your injury later, your employer can fire you. And if you need additional medical treatment because of your injury, it won't be covered by workers' comp.
- Put you off until you give up – and your deadline for filing has passed
If your employer refuses reasonable treatment for your injury, is delaying it until time runs out to file a claim, files to end treatment prematurely or argues about every medical treatment and payment, they might be putting you off until you give up or it's too late to file.
- Prevent the injury from being documented
If your employer prevents you from going to the hospital or the doctor even if you need treatment, if your employer doesn't allow an accident report to be prepared, or does anything else to prevent documentation that would normally be generated related to your injury, this could mean they can't be trusted. You need the documentation for your claim because you need to document its nature, severity, and treatment. If you can't do that, you may not qualify for workers' comp.
- Sending you to the "company doctor"
Although not all company doctors are unscrupulous, some are. If the doctor says your injury isn't so bad and "may not" be work-related, even though it clearly is, it can be much harder to successfully file a workers' comp claim. If you can pick your own doctor, do it as soon as you are allowed to. If you don't have a regular doctor, get one as soon as you can.
- Threatening you if you file a claim
It's against the law to fire you simply for filing a workers' comp claim. Again, if you don't file a claim and your injury makes it hard for you to work later, your boss can fire you without any difficulty because you don't have proof you were injured on the job. At that point, it will be too late to file for workers' comp, and you could have trouble finding another job because of your injury or due to other circumstances.
What can you do if any of these things happen to you?
If your employer tries to deny you workers' comp when you've been injured on the job -- through these methods or any other -- you don't have to put up with it. Contact the law firm of Greenman, Goldberg, Raby, Martinez for a free consultation, or call 702-388-4476. Download this checklist to learn the steps to take after being injured on the job.