Workers’ compensation is an essential safety net for employees who suffer injuries or illnesses in the course of performing their jobs. As a no-fault insurance program, workers’ comp enables employees to receive medical and wage replacement benefits while they recover from an injury or illness. While the pathways to workers’ compensation benefits are in place, there are certain mistakes workers need to avoid in order to ensure they receive the benefits to which they are entitled.
At Handler, Henning & Rosenberg LLP, our workers’ compensation lawyers have helped numerous men, women, and families across Pennsylvania navigate all aspects of the workers’ comp claim process. Because we receive many questions from injured workers, and because we have seen first-hand how mistakes can make for additional challenges, we always take the time to educate our clients, explain their rights, and handle the legal work on their behalves.
While we encourage you to reach out to our firm following a work injury, we also want to provide some information that can help you avoid mistakes that could hurt your claim and your chances of receiving benefits. Common workers’ compensation mistakes to avoid:
- Waiting to report an accident – If you have suffered an injury while on the job, it is critical that you report the accident and injury as soon as possible to your employer. By waiting to report an accident or not reporting it at all, you risk delays or denials of benefits. Remember, workers’ compensation is a no-fault insurance program, which means it does not matter who is at fault for the accident or injury, with some exceptions in certain cases. You have a right to secure benefits and the medical treatment you need – and you should exercise this right by reporting any injury or illness to your employer as soon as you case. Reporting your accident in a timely and complete manner is the first and most important step in a workers’ comp case.
- Speak to your doctor before reporting – Under Pennsylvania law, it is your obligation to report your injury to your employer, and it should always be done first. Your doctor’s job is to provide the treatment you need for your injury, not to ensure you initiate the workers’ comp process and receive benefits. While you may seek an evaluation or treatment for your own doctor, when your claim is accepted, state law stipulates that you may be required to visit a health care provider who has been approved by your employer.
- Using your own health insurance – Sometimes, injured or sick employees may feel that an injury is not severe enough to warrant reporting, especially in cases involving repetitive trauma injuries or pre-existing conditions aggravated by workplace conditions, and will seek medical care on their own. This is not a wise idea. Be warned that if you seek to treat an injury on your own, medical bills can quickly add up. You also might not be fully aware about the nature and severity of your injury, which could very well require more intensive treatment and time away from work. Having waited to report to your employer while you sought treatment on your own, however, can put you at risk of having a claim denied or delayed, which could place additional financial and emotional strains on you and your loved ones.
- Not consulting an attorney – The workers’ compensation process can be complex, especially if there are unique issues involved in a case. One of the best things you can do to ensure your rights are protected, that all procedural requirements are met, and that you have the help you need is to consult with an experienced attorney who knows Pennsylvania’s Workers’ Compensation Act and the laws in place. At Handler, Henning & Rosenberg LLP, we go above and beyond in helping clients navigate the process and ensuring the right steps are being taken. Additionally, our legal team has the extensive experience and breadth of legal knowledge to handle other challenging issues that may arise, including claim denials, third party personal injury claims, and cases involving occupational diseases.
If you or someone you love were recently hurt on the job, or have suffered an illness as a result of the work you perform, we invite you to speak with a workers’ compensation attorney from our firm during a free consultation. Learn more about your rights, your case, and how Handler, Henning & Rosenberg LLP can help! Contact us today for a FREE consultation.