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Mistakes That Can Ruin Your Workers’ Compensation Claim

When you were hired, your job training likely focused on teaching you how to perform specific tasks and handle job-related challenges. However, it probably did not cover what steps to take if you were injured on the job. After a workplace accident, it becomes crucial to take proactive steps to manage your health and navigate the complexities of filing a workers’ compensation claim. Without proper guidance, it’s easy to make mistakes that could jeopardize your claim.

At the Law Office of Mathew Russell, we’ve identified several common mistakes that injured workers often make. By knowing what these are, you can avoid them and protect your rights:

  1. Not Reporting Your Injury Immediately
    It’s essential to inform your employer about your injury as soon as it occurs. Check your employee manual for specific procedures on reporting injuries. If there are no explicit instructions, make sure to inform your supervisors, coworkers, and the human resources manager right away. Delaying this notification can seriously compromise your ability to claim benefits.
  2. Filing Your Workers’ Compensation Claim Late
    Informing your employer about your injury is not the same as filing a workers’ compensation claim. Typically, your employer should provide you with a DWC-1 claim form within one business day after you report your injury. You must complete the employee section of this form and return it within 30 days of your injury to preserve your rights to benefits, including medical care and wage loss compensation.
  3. Allowing Your Employer to Choose Your Physician
    In California, employers have the right to select the treating physician for the initial diagnosis. However, many employees do not realize that they are not obligated to continue seeing this doctor after the first visit. Employers should provide a list of pre-approved physicians within a medical provider network (MPN), allowing you to choose who you see for subsequent visits.
  4. Failing to Follow Through with Treatment
    Attending all scheduled medical appointments is crucial, even if you dislike doctor visits. If you fail to keep up with the prescribed treatment plan, especially if you are receiving wage loss benefits, the insurance company may seek to suspend these payments. Getting benefits reinstated after they’ve been suspended can be a lengthy and challenging process.
  5. Not Requesting a Second Opinion
    If you disagree with your treating physician’s diagnosis or treatment plan, you have the right to seek a second or even third opinion from other doctors within your medical provider network. If disagreements persist after multiple opinions, you can request an independent medical review (IMR) to resolve the issue.
  6. Not Consulting a Workers’ Comp Attorney
    Many injured workers hesitate to consult with a workers’ comp attorney, fearing that legal fees might reduce their overall compensation. However, an experienced lawyer can significantly increase the benefits you receive, usually offsetting any costs associated with their services. Data shows that represented workers almost always receive more in compensation, even after legal fees.
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