What to Do If You Get Injured On the Job - Physical Therapy and Workers' Compensation
Published by The Klein Law Group, P.C.
WHAT CAN I DO TO MAKE SURE THAT MY CASE GOES AS SMOOTHLY AS POSSIBLE?
The single most important element of your case will almost certainly be reports from your doctor, filed with your insurance carrier and the Workers' Compensation Board on a regular basis. When you receive a Notice of Hearing from the Board, you should show it to your doctor and ask him to give you a copy of an updated report for you to present to the judge at the hearing. From time to time you may need special medical devices like braces, traction, crutches, or a wheelchair or you may need special diagnostic tests or even surgery. Your doctor should include all such requirements in his reports, so that if the insurance carrier refuses to pay for these things voluntarily, you can present your request to the judge.
WHAT IS THE FIRST THING I SHOULD DO AFTER MY ACCIDENT?
Seek medical attention. Even if you think you may not be seriously injured you should see a doctor. You may be more injured than you are aware of at first, and you may not be fully compensated without a doctor's report immediately following your accident.
Remember that whether you see a private doctor or go to an emergency room, you must always remember to give a full account of what happened to you on the job. If the doctor's records do not show this full account, it may cause long delays and much frustration as your case progresses.
WHAT ELSE SHOULD I DO?
First, as soon as you can after the accident, you must notify your employer that you were injured on the job. It may not be enough to say, "I cannot come in today because I hurt my back," for example. You must tell your boss exactly what happened on the job that caused your medical problem.
WILL MY BOSS FILE CLAIM FOR ME?
You are responsible for your own claim. If your boss promises to file for you, and the Workers' Compensation Board never receives your claim form, you will probably lose the right to any benefits if you file your claim late. There are some exceptions to this two year limitation, but they do not apply in most cases. Therefore, if your boss files for you, ask for proof of that filing. Otherwise, as soon as you can after you are injured, call the Workers' Compensation Board to get a claim form and file it on your own.
WILL THE INSURANCE COMPANY PAY MY BENEFITS RIGHT AWAY?
Many people think that workers' compensation benefits are an automatic entitlement. This is wrong. You are entitled to make a claim. Sometimes the insurance company will pay the maximum benefit allowable by law. Sometimes it will pay you less than the maximum, and sometimes it will refuse to pay you any benefit at all.
When your insurance carrier refuses to pay 100% of the benefits you are claiming, you may bring your claim before a judge. Only a judge can order the insurance company to pay retroactive benefits and future benefits as well, and can order payment for medical treatment, diagnostic tests, surgery, and reimbursement of your out-of-pocket medical and transportation expenses.
HOW CAN I GET ALONG WHEN I'M NOT WORKING AND I'M WAITING FOR A JUDGE TO ORDER PAYMENT OF MY BENEFITS?
As soon as you know that you will not soon be able to return to work, speak with your union representative, or your company's personnel director. If you hire a lawyer, speak with him as well. You may be entitled to any number of different disability plans which may be payable at once and/or may supplement your eventual compensation benefit. You may be entitled to New York State off-the-job disability while your case is being contested, to Federal Social Security Disability Benefits, to Unemployment Insurance or Welfare, and/or you may be entitled, through your employer or through a plan your purchased yourself, to private or short-term disability.