In the very best cases, it can take just two or three weeks to receive workers’ compensation after you file a claim. But even in this short period, it’s possible to jeopardize your case with simple actions that at first seem harmless.
Making an extra effort at work or refusing help with physical tasks, even with good intentions, could be used as evidence against your case. And since the insurance adjuster will most likely hire an investigator to check the authenticity of your claim, it can be easy to make a mistake.
To help you file a successful claim after a workplace injury, here’s what not to do while on or applying for workers’ comp in Kansas or Missouri.
1) Don’t wait to report your accident
In Kansas, you have 20 days to report your injury to your employer or supervisor as part of your workers’ compensation claim. In Missouri, you’re allowed an even more lenient 30 days. But that doesn’t mean you have time to waste.
Failing to report your injury immediately could make your claim seem less urgent and serious, and by extension less credible. At the very least, try to report your injury within the first 24-48 hours. Once you’ve done so, make sure your employer files a First Report of Injury form quickly, as this is their responsibility, not yours.
2) Don’t undersell your injury to your doctor
If you don’t tell your examining doctor exactly how your injury and symptoms are affecting you, you could fail to get the care you need for a full recovery. Worse, your stoicism may be used as evidence against your claim, or even lead to accusations of insurance fraud.
Always tell your doctor every possible detail about how the accident occurred, what symptoms you’re suffering, and how your injury is affecting your normal abilities. Remember that pre-existing conditions don’t invalidate your claim and that failing to mention relevant information like this could call your integrity into question.
3) Don’t exaggerate your injuries
Just as underselling your injuries can have major consequences, exaggerating them to strengthen your claim could result in a complete dismissal. Your medical examiner will perform several tests to evaluate your injuries, and they’ll know if something doesn’t add up. And if your employer or the insurance adjuster catches you, it can have serious repercussions on your livelihood and employability.
4) Don’t ignore your treatment plan
The treatment and recovery plan your doctor and physical therapist create are designed to help you make a full recovery. But as you start to feel better, you might be tempted to stop following their advice prematurely.
Discontinuing care without medical approval can cause your injuries to return and even become much worse. And if your employer or their insurance company finds out, your actions become strong evidence against your workers’ compensation claim.
Make contact immediately if a scheduling conflict arises and you can’t attend a doctor’s appointment or therapy session. As well as calling your claim into question, skipping sessions without prior warning means you cheat yourself out of an opportunity for recovery.
5) Don’t refuse light-duty work
If your injuries are both partial and temporary, your employer can welcome you back to work with limited duties. Refusing to accept this arrangement when it’s been approved by your treating doctor can make it seem like you just don’t want to work. And since workers’ compensation is intended to help you return to gainful employment as quickly as possible, this puts your claim at risk.
If you’re concerned about your light-duty arrangements or you can’t perform the duties assigned to you, discuss it with your employer and your doctor. If they insist you return to work regardless, document any discomfort, pain, and inability you experience so that reasonable adjustments can be made.
6) Don’t quit your job
It’s easy to feel overwhelmed after your injury, especially if you’re expected to return to work. So you might want to quit your job, apply for a safer position, or reduce your working hours.
But workers’ compensation is intended to cover your medical expenses and lost wages while you recover from a workplace injury. Since the goal is to return to work, quitting or changing jobs can disqualify you from receiving benefits or making further claims. If you’re worried about your role, talk to your employer and doctor to make suitable arrangements for your continued employment.
7) Don’t post about your case on social media
A more modern example of what not to do on workers’ comp, posting about your case on social media can significantly change the final outcome. Insurance investigators often monitor social media to find evidence they can use against you in court. Be mindful of any photos or comments you post after your injury, and don’t get caught acting in a way that contradicts your injury.
8) Don’t wait to hire a workers’ compensation lawyer
Some claimants try to manage their own workers’ compensation claims to avoid paying legal fees, especially if they already know how to calculate workers’ compensation. But this can lead you to miss vital steps in building a strong case, and you could be refused compensation altogether. Even if your claim is successful, you might unknowingly accept a smaller payout than you deserve or fail to claim additional benefits that you qualify for.
Hiring a qualified and experienced workers’ comp lawyer who understands your rights in your state gives you the best chance of making a successful claim. As experts in workers’ compensation and personal injury claims, the team at Phalen Law has supported claimants like you in Kansas and Missouri for over 50 years. With our comprehensive knowledge of workers’ comp law and transparent approach to case handling, you can get a full payout and enjoy a comfortable recovery.
Fill out our Free Case Evaluation form online to give us the details of your case, or contact us today to discuss your workers’ compensation claim.