Making sure your claim is approved

Oct 02

I’ve had my share of potential injury scenarios at work over the course of my career. When I worked at Walmart in my teens, I slipped on a freshly mopped floor and hit my head. A few years later, I barely missed getting in an accident while delivering for a local sandwich shop. Even in offices I’ve had issues. I came close to electrocuting myself once when I reached behind a computer and spilled my drink all over the socket while I was messing around back there.

In all those situations, I’ve been fine, but I’m aware that I’m lucky in that sense. Some people aren’t, so I want to make it easier to make sure they are covered by workman’s compensation when they need to make a claim.

Unfortunately, we don’t live in a very honest society, and people will try to deny claims just to save some money. Here’s what you can do to make sure that doesn’t happen.

First, report any issue immediately, report it in writing, and make copies. You want to establish a history to your claim if it comes down to it. If you hurt yourself but you don’t think it’s serious, report it anyway. If you come in the next day feeling worse, report that in writing as well. You want to be able to prove definitively that your injury happened at work and that your work should have to pay.

Second, and related, try to find documentation to prove your accident happened not just at work but due to your work responsibilities. Also, try to show that it was in no way due to any preexisting conditions. These are crucial points in making sure your claim is approved.

Third, go to a doctor within your employer’s network. While you might feel most comfortable with your doctor, if that doctor isn’t covered by your employer’s insurance, you may find your claim denied, even if it would otherwise have been approved. That doesn’t mean you have to go to the first doctor your employer recommends. Instead, get a list of doctors and decide on one you feel comfortable speaking to.

Finally, get comfortable with the idea that you may have to speak to a lawyer if your claim is denied. If there are serious consequences to your injury and your employer doesn’t want to pay, that’s probably because the ball is very much in his or her court on this issue. It will be on you to prove you deserve compensation.

There are sure to be lawyers in your hometown. Here in Indianapolis, I’ve heard good things about these guys. Find a lawyer who has good recommendations, and contact them if you are having issues with this.

To summarize, record everything, use the right doctors, and keep a lawyer in mind as a last case option.

If you follow these tips, you won’t have to worry about whether that bump you got walking through Walmart or that shock at the office is covered. You will be.

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Workers’ Compensation Benefits Plus the Possibility of a Third Party Claim

Jan 05

There are different forms of danger in any type of work environment, these dangers being dependent on the kinds of equipment, tools and substances workers or employees are regularly exposed to. Of the different types of workplaces, however, construction sites remain to be among the most dangerous due to all the tools and hazardous substances that can possibly cause injuries or illness; add to these the high places workers often need to reach in order to complete their assigned task. Some of the causes of worker injury include falls, especially among those working on roofs, ladders or scaffolds, falling objects that can severely injure (or even kill) workers, huge vehicles or equipment that can pin and crush unsuspecting workers, plus daily exposure to chemicals which can cause deadly, chronic illnesses.

As one of the most dangerous career fields in the country, construction work leads all other occupational categories in causing fatalities and serious injuries among workers. In 2013 and 2014, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries (CFOI) reported 4,585 and 4,679, respectively, fatal work-related accidents. Before 1971, the year the Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) was established, the number of work-related deaths in construction sites was about 38 a day; from 1971 to 2014, the yearly average of fatal accidents was significantly reduced to about 13 a day.

According to OSHA, the number one cause of death for construction workers in the U.S. is falls from great heights, such as falling off from roofs, ladders or scaffoldings; about 2.3 million construction workers work on these surfaces everyday. In 2014, there were 899 fatal accidents in construction sites; about 359 of these were due to falls.

Workplace accidents can result not only to physical injuries, but to financial difficulties too, particularly if the injury is serious as this would mean costly medical treatment and medication, and days or weeks off from work, which means no salary to expect. If not for the cash benefits provided by the Workers’ Compensation Insurance program, there wouldn’t be any financial safety net that will cushion injured workers from the unexpected loss of regular income (the cash benefit paid by Workers’ Comp, however, is just about two/thirds of the injured worker’s average wage). This Workers’ Comp program, by the way, is a state-administered insurance program that is designed to provide immediate cash benefits to workers whose injury, disability or illness is work-related (regardless of whose fault the harm is). The only factors that will disqualify a worker from eligibility to receive the cash benefits are the injury being self-inflicted, the injured worker was intoxicated at the time when he/she was injured, or if the injury was sustained as a result of actions that violate a law or a company policy on workplace safety.

An article in the website of the Todd J. Leonard Law Firm mentions how important it is for a worker to “evaluate whether he/she has any other potential claims as a result of being injured on the job in addition to his/her Workers’ Compensation benefits. In New Jersey, for instance, there is the possibility of a third party lawsuit in addition to bringing a Workers’ Compensation claim. However, workers cannot sue their employer unless they are able to prove the injuries were caused by willful actions.

However you may be able to bring a third party claim for your injuries. For example, if you were injured by a defective product or piece of machinery, if you were operating a vehicle while in the course of employment, were injured while making a delivery such as slipping and falling on ice, or tripping in a pothole, or if you were exposed to a toxic substance you may have a third party claim.”

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