11 Things That May Hurt Your Chances of Recovering Georgia Workers’ Comp Benefits
It’s bad enough to be injured on the job, but it will be a lot worse if you struggle with recovering Georgia workers’ comp benefits.
Not receiving just compensation for your days unable to work or for your medical needs will only add to your stress level.
Unfortunately, people unknowingly make workers’ compensation mistakes that can result in having their claims denied and hinder their chances of recovering Georgia workers’ comp benefits.
Knowing what NOT to do will make a big difference if you suffer an injury while at work.
That’s why it is wise to review the following list of 11 workers’ compensation mistakes that may hurt your chances of recovering Georgia workers’ comp benefits.
#1 Saying the Wrong Thing to Your Boss after an Injury at Work
When you are injured on the job, you need to tell your boss explicitly you’ve been in an accident at work.
You can’t simply say, “I need to go to the doctor.”
If you do, you risk your employer not understanding that the reason you need to go to the doctor is a workers’ comp issue.
You need to spell it out and say, “I need to go to the doctor because I was hurt in an accident in the warehouse today.”
In addition, it is important to tell your boss immediately after the accident and also put it in writing. Even a simple text message chain between you and your boss stating you were injured at work will help.
Remember: You have a limited amount of time to report it (30 days in the state of Georgia), or you risk not recovering Georgia workers’ comp benefits.
#2 Not Seeking Medical Attention Right Away
It is important to seek medical attention right away, not only for your physical well-being, but also for recovering Georgia workers’ comp benefits.
Remember, in Georgia, the injured worker has the burden of proving an accident that leads to an injury. Document everything! The best way to document your injuries is to seek expert medical attention from a doctor immediately after your accident.
This is one of the most common workers’ compensation mistakes.
Consider this scenario: You are injured on the job on Friday afternoon, but you wait until Monday to report it to your boss and ask to see a doctor.
In this case, your boss will assume you were injured over the weekend and simply want to recover Georgia workers’ comp benefits for a personal injury unrelated to work.
That’s not the only issue.
People neglect to make a report because they think their injury is minor. Later, it turns out that the slip and fall caused serious neck or back issues.
#3 Failing to Provide an Honest and Accurate Medical History
One of the most serious workers’ compensation mistakes is not providing doctors with an honest account of what happened, as well as failing to provide an accurate medical history.
Both of these omissions can prevent you from recovering Georgia workers’ comp benefits.
You may be tempted to omit parts of the story about how your injury occurred, but this will hurt your case from a legal standpoint.
Insurance companies don’t want to pay, so if they find out you lied, that’s a win for them.
People may hesitate to be honest about their medical histories out of fear that their pre-existing conditions will hinder their chances of recovering Georgia workers’ comp benefits.
This is not the case. It is perfectly okay to have pre-existing problems because if they are aggravated in a work accident, then you qualify for workers’ compensation benefits.
It is not okay to lie about pre-existing problems. You’re only hurting your chances of recovering workers’ comp benefits.
#4 Going to the Doctor Your Boss Recommends
As much as you want to believe your boss is looking out for you, it is wise to err on the side of caution.
Ultimately, you have a right to choose which doctor you’d like to see.
If your employer has a list of approved physicians, called a panel of physicians, you must choose one from this list. However, you still have the right to choose which doctor from the list you’d like to see.
The reason this can turn into a workers’ compensation mistake is that some bosses may push their employees to visit more employer-friendly doctors.
These are the doctors who tend to give the employer what they want, such as saying an injured employee is okay to work full-time when they really aren’t.
Bonus tip: If your employer did not have a valid, posted panel of physicians in place on the date of your accident, then, you and your lawyer get to pick ANY doctor you want to be your authorized treating physician ‒ and the insurance company has to pay for it.
#5 Not Seeking a Second Opinion
Sadly, not all doctors are good doctors. Some are more motivated by insurance companies sending them a steady stream of patients than they are by patients’ well-being.
In order to stay in the good graces of an insurance company and remain on their panel of physicians, these doctors may minimize your injuries and prevent you from recovering Georgia workers’ comp benefits.
If you visit a doctor who insists you can return to work when you know you are unable, you have a right to a second opinion.
This is also when a workers’ compensation lawyer is helpful.
Lawyers in this field are aware of who the good and bad doctors are, so they will point you in the right direction.
#6 Speaking to a Nurse Case Manager or Insurance Adjuster
One of the more common workers’ compensation mistakes is speaking openly with a nurse case manager or an insurance adjuster.
Again, it’s easy to believe everyone is looking out for you when you’ve been injured, but that isn’t always true.
For example, everything you say can be used against you – specifically the things you say to a nurse case manager or an insurance adjuster.
These individuals are employed by insurance companies. They are there to advocate for the insurance company, not for you.
This means they can use what you say to prevent you from recovering Georgia workers’ comp benefits.
#7 Not Complying with Prescribed Medical Treatment
A quick way to lose out on Georgia workers’ compensation benefits is to not comply with the medical treatment prescribed.
If you are injured on the job and the doctor prescribes bed rest, but you post photos on social media of you dancing at the club, there goes your chances of recovering Georgia workers’ comp benefits.
All it takes is for the insurance company to see you not following the doctor’s order to say you are well and deny your claim.
#8 Signing Paperwork without Having Your Lawyer Review It First
Insurance companies value profit over people. Plain and simple.
As a result, they look for ways to cut corners, which means offer settlements for less than you deserve.
If you sign a settlement, it is binding. You will not be able to receive any further compensation.
That’s why it is important to hire a workers’ compensation lawyer and avoid signing any paperwork before your lawyer reviews it.
You want someone in your corner when it comes time to fight the insurance company – and this battle often comes in the form of complicated paperwork or strategic decisions to increase and maximize the value of your case.
#9 Hiring Just Any Attorney
Speaking of attorneys, another way to miss out on recovering Georgia workers’ comp benefits is to hire just any attorney.
Unfortunately, just as in any profession, there are good lawyers, and there are bad lawyers.
Don’t settle for the first name that pops up in your Google search. Instead, do your research. Check out online reviews. [link to Google reviews]
Take advantage of free initial consultations. It is perfectly acceptable to “shop around” when it comes to finding a lawyer to represent you. Make sure you get the answers to these questions:
- Do they take your call or do you have to leave multiple messages?
- When someone calls back, do you get to speak to the actual attorney, or do you get an assistant?
- When you do speak to an attorney, are they patient and helpful or rushed and rude?
Treat this consultation as though you are interviewing the lawyer for a job.
#10 Not Hiring an Excellent Georgia Workers’ Comp Attorney (Me)
When it comes to hiring a lawyer, it is also important that you hire the right kind of lawyer.
Let’s say your uncle has a friend who is an attorney, but this attorney just occasionally helps clients with workers’ comp issues. He won’t know the ins and outs of Georgia workers’ compensation law like one who specializes in workers’ comp.
Your best bet of recovering Georgia workers’ comp benefits is to hire an experienced workers’ compensation lawyer.
These lawyers will get you the best treatment, more benefits, and higher settlements because they understand this area of the law so well.
#11 Going Back to Work without Consulting Your Lawyer
You may be tempted to go back to work, but before you do, you need to speak with your lawyer.
The truth is, returning to work before you are ready will only hurt your chances of recovering Georgia workers’ comp benefits.
This will give the appearance that you are well and able to work when you really may be going just because you are worried about paying your bills.
Going back to work before you are physically ready could cause more damage to your body or cause a second accident. Never go back to work before talking over your options with an experienced workers’ compensation lawyer.
If you’ve been injured on the job, contact us today for a free, no-strings-attached consultation.