Because your injuries are at the heart of your workers’ compensation claim, documentation and medical treatment is essential to building a strong case for your entitlement to benefits. Mistakes in dealing with a workers’ compensation doctor can damage your claim, which you do not want to do when your employer’s insurance company is trying to deny or reduce your claim. Fortunately, you can learn from other employees’ mistakes in dealing with their medical care providers and be conscious of actions that you want to avoid.
Avoid These Mistakes With a Worker’s Comp Doctor
When dealing with a doctor in your workers’ compensation claim, you need to keep in mind that you may be seeing a doctor selected by your employer. In New Jersey workers’ compensation cases, your employer retains this right. So you want to be extra careful of what you say and what you do in regards to your medical treatment.
In addition, no matter whether you see a doctor chosen by your employer or not, your medical treatment and what you say to your workers comp doctor will be included in the medical records seen by your employer’s insurance company in the course of your workers’ comp claim. Mistakes that you want to avoid when dealing with your physician include:
- Delaying medical treatment. Whenever you are involved in a workplace accident, you should seek prompt medical care. This is true even when you do not believe that you were injured. Some injuries do not become apparent for days or weeks after an accident. You could be jeopardizing your health and creating disputes as to the cause of your injuries and their severity when you do not seek prompt care.
- Missing appointments and failing to follow up on treatment. When you miss appointments with your doctor or other medical care providers or do not follow your doctor’s advice on your treatment, this can damage your workers’ comp claim. These actions raise questions with the insurance company about the severity of your injuries and how much you care about recovering from your injuries. In addition, this could seriously annoy your doctor, which will result in his being less sympathetic to your situation and not a good witness in your workers’ compensation case.
- Not sticking to the facts about your accident. When talking to your doctor or filling out forms about your workplace accident, just stick to the basic facts. You do not need to provide detailed information or guess at the answers. If you do, it could lead to inaccurate answers that may be inconsistent with what you have told others, such as your employer, about how the accident happened. These inconsistent or inaccurate statements could reduce your credibility as a witness and damage the strength of your claim.
- Not being truthful about your medical history. Your doctor will ask you questions about your prior medical history and any similar injuries you had in the past. Your workers comp doctor needs this information to properly treat you. In addition, when you do not disclose a prior injury, this is a big mistake. Your employer’s insurance company will obtain the medical records regarding your prior injury as part of their defense of your claim. When they discover your lie, this would reduce your credibility as a witness and with your doctor.
- Not telling your doctor about your limitations and pain. It is critical that you inform your doctor about how your injury limits your ability to work and the pain you have experienced. You also need to be certain that this is documented in your medical file every time you see your doctor. If the information is not in your medical records, the insurance company could argue that you are not injured as seriously as you claim or that you can return to work when you are still recovering from your injuries.
- Stopping treatment too soon. While you may need the money, you do not want to return to work too soon. This could jeopardize your health by delaying your recovery or causing permanent injuries. In addition, this could give the insurance company ammunition to argue about whether or not your injuries prevent you from working. Before deciding to return to work, discuss it with your attorney. Get advice on when to return to work and how to discuss it with your doctor.
- Not keeping good records. When you are off work for months or longer receiving medical treatment from your doctor, physical therapist, and other healthcare providers, it can be hard to keep track of all your doctor appointments, recovery from your injuries over time, and treatments. Your attorney will need this information for your case, and you may need it to remember the details regarding your treatment. When you do not keep good records, vital information that could strengthen your right to workers’ compensation benefits could be lost.
Speak To A Workers' Compensation Lawyer Today
Have you made one of these mistakes? An experienced workers’ compensation attorney can help you minimize the damage that your error could cause to your claim. To discuss your situation and legal options, start an online chat or call our office today to schedule your free consultation with Manfred Ricciardelli. If you are not ready to speak to an attorney yet, consider downloading our free book, What The Injured Worker Needs To Know.