If you sustain an injury while performing work-related activities, you may be entitled to filing a workers’ compensation claim in order to receive compensation for your damages like lost wages and medical bills. In order to successfully make your claim, you must report your injury, undergo a doctor’s exam, participate in a hearing and even consult a workers’ compensation attorney.
Report Your Injury
One of the first steps, if not the first step, you should take when you sustain an injury while you are on the job is to notify your employer of your injury. Deadlines vary by state, but workers’ comp agencies generally require that injuries be reported within 30 days or less of the incident.
Receive an Impartial or an Independent Medical Examination
After you report your injury, your state’s workers’ compensation agency will generally require that you undergo an impartial or an independent medical examination. Impartial exams are conducted by a doctor randomly chosen from a list of doctors that your state deems impartial when it comes to issues of workers’ compensation.
Doctors that are considered to be impartial include those that don’t normally accept requests for independent medical exams and those that are unbiased toward patients who have received injuries at the workplace. Impartial exams are vital to your workers’ compensation claim because judges generally accept the opinion of the doctor over the opinion of your own doctor or that of the insurer’s doctor.
Independent medical exams, on the other hand, are performed by a doctor carefully selected by your insurer. While these exams are called independent, they are not truly independent since your insurer chooses doctors that they believe will favor the insurer over the patient.
It’s important that you be as detailed as possible when you discuss your work-related injury with your independent doctor and reasonably comply with their demands, as your insurer may have the right to terminate your workers’ compensation benefits if you are not compliant.
Workers’ Comp Claim Hearing
Depending on where you live, your workers’ comp claim may be resolved at one or multiple hearings. The purpose of a hearing is to resolve the following issues:
- Your average weekly wages
- Whether your injury was sustained during work-related activities
- Whether you had a preexisting injury that was only complicated by your work incident
- Whether your injury is a new issue that your employer should be responsible for
- The extent of your disability
- How reasonable your medical treatment is and whether your insurer is responsible for paying your medical expenses
Let a Workers’ Comp Attorney Help You
The legal details of the workers’ compensation system are complex, so consulting an attorney who has been trained in workers’ comp law could be vital to your case. While personal injury attorneys generally take one-third of their clients’ reward as their fee, workers’ comp attorneys are usually not allowed to do this. Instead, your attorney fee may be a flat fee decided by the judge at your hearing, or it may be a percentage (often no more than 20%) of your awarded weekly compensation amount.
If you have questions regarding attorney fees or are having difficulty filing your workers’ comp claim, contact one of our experienced lawyers at McMahan Law Firm in Chattanooga, TN for representation.