Employees expect a safe and secure workplace. However, no matter how careful you are on the job, or the provisions your employer has in place, workplace accidents can happen to anyone at any time.
If you’re injured on the job, you may be eligible for worker’s compensation benefits. There are common mistakes that can derail your claim and limit your compensation.
In this article, we outline the 5 most common worker’s compensation claim mistakes and how a workplace accident attorney can help you avoid them.
1 – Failure to report the injury on time
One of the most common mistakes workers make is failing to report an on-the-job injury to their employer promptly. Taking too long to inform your employer about a workplace accident can risk losimg your right to claim worker’s compensation benefits.
All workplaces are required by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to follow pre-determined standards for creating a safe workplace environment. OSHA guidelines also dictate employers must have a protocol in place for reporting and handling workplace injuries.
New Mexico Worker’s Compensation Guidelines
New Mexico statutes require your to report a work-related injury or illness to your employer within 15 days of an accident or when the injury or illness is first discovered. If you fail to meet these deadlines, you risk a denial of your worker’s compensation claim.
The New Mexico statute of limitations for filing a worker’s compensation claim with a workplace accident attorney is one year and 30 days to the date of the accident.
2 – Lack of medical documentation
Medical documentation is one of the most effective ways you can support your worker’s compensation claim. Many workers make the mistake of not immediately seeking medical attention after their injuries. Without the proper documentation, you may face challenges proving your injury happened at work.
A workplace accident attorney uses medical documentation to prove your case should you end up pursuing a legal claim against your employer.
Types of Medical Documentation
Medical documentation is crucial evidence to support your workplace injury claim. Some of the types of medical documentation you may need include:
- Doctor’s notes about your condition, treatment plan, and any restrictions or limitations placed on you in the workplace.
- Imaging reports such as CT scans, MRIs, and X-rays that provide evidence of the injury and validate the severity.
- Medical reports are one of the most effective types of medical documentation to support your worker’s compensation claim. They should include the nature and extent of your injuries, any treatment you received, and an estimated recovery period.
- Prescription records detail any medications your doctor prescribed for pain management or other treatment of your injuries.
- Rehabilitation reports outline any physical therapy or other rehabilitative services a doctor recommended as part of your recovery.
3 – Not following doctor’s orders
After suffering a workplace injury, it’s important to follow your doctor’s orders. If you neglect a recommendation to attend physical therapy or take a certain medication during your recovery, an employer can use that to deny your worker’s compensation claim.
For instance, let’s say you slipped and fell on a wet surface that wasn’t clearly marked at work. You’re suffering from lingering low back pain and headaches. As part of your treatment, your doctor recommends attending physical therapy to regain mobility in your lower back and for pain relief.
If you decide you don’t want to attend physical therapy, your employer could use that information to assert your injuries weren’t severe. You may be denied fair compensation if you decide to file a claim later.
4 – Returning to work too soon
Another common mistake workers make is returning to work too soon after their injury. Maybe they worry about the loss of income if they stay off-the-job too long. Some may think they feel well enough to go back to work.
Whatever the reason, if you return to work before you’re fully healed, you can aggravate existing injuries and jeopardize your right to worker’s compensation benefits.
Here are some warning signs it may be too soon to return to work after an injury:
- You’re still experiencing pain or discomfort.
- You’re feeling tired or fatigued.
- You’re still taking pain medication regularly.
- You’re still being medically treated for your injuries.
- You’re struggling with limited mobility.
- You’re not cleared by your doctor.
5 – Not seeking legal representation
When you get hurt on the job, the last thing on your mind is suing your employer. Most workers focus on getting care for their injuries. However, a workplace accident attorney can help you navigate the complex legal system to ensure you receive fair compensation for your injuries.
Even if you don’t think you might file a legal claim against your employer, a worker’s compensation lawyer can guide you through the process of filing a claim and documenting your injuries in case you change your mind later.
Avoid common worker’s compensation mistakes
Filing a worker’s compensation claim is complicated. You can avoid these 5 mistakes by seeking the help of a workplace accident attorney. They can make sure you report your injury promptly, seek medical attention, follow your doctor’s orders, and take the necessary time off work to heal.
Should you need to pursue additional legal action to protect your rights to fair compensation, they can prepare a solid case to ensure you receive fair compensation.