Worker’s compensation is notoriously one of the biggest points of contention between employees and employers. They are perfectly happy to pay you your wages, provide your benefits package, and schedule vacation and sick days like usual. However, when it comes to the question of paying the insurance costs for a worksite injury, many professionals are astounded at how nasty the situation can get. Your employer may seem to transform from a nice normal company into a multi-headed monster determined to belittle, undermine, and even outright deny your injury claim.
Workers Comp Policies are Notoriously Underhanded
For anyone who has been through the process before or knows someone who has, it’s easy to see that the on-paper policies for workers compensation and what are actually put into action are two completely different sets of playbooks. On paper, you file a claim, see a doctor, and begin treatment on leave until you can return to your welcoming team on light duties, eventually taking back the full responsibilities of your original position. In reality, companies don’t let it happen this easily. Because a workplace injury looks bad on their record and costs them in insurance premiums, they’d like to make it go away. They’ll deny that the injury is that bad, deny that they were responsible, and even go so far as to call you a liar by denying that the injury happened at work at all. For these reasons, you’re going to need to create a paper trail that you can reference and share with others from day one.
1) Report Your Injury Immediately and Keep the Injury Report
The moment you are injured and confirm that it’s more than just a paper cut, go report the injury to your supervisor. Don’t try to write it off or work through it, don’t just ice it on your break. If you don’t report the injury right away, this gives your employer better grounds to deny that it happened at work or the way you said it happened. Get witnesses if you can and go file an injury report and don’t let anyone talk you out of filing a report.
DO NOT let your employer walk away with the injury report. There have been incidences of surreptitious shredding in the past so be sure to get a complete filled-out copy of your injury report before leaving your supervisor’s desk. Do not write it twice, get a scan or a forwarded digital copy to be certain they can’t claim you re-wrote it.
2) Seek Your Own Doctor and Get Their Report
Your employer may want you to be examined by a company doctor or one employed by their insurance agency and you should cooperate. However, because it’s in their best interest to find you less injured with less costly healthcare requirements, don’t let this be the only medical report. Go to your regular doctor and get their written assessment of your injury BEFORE you see the insurance doctor. Get a copy of both reports for your own records.
3) Ask to Be Kept in the Loop – In Email Form
You have the right to know what is being discussed and decided about your worker’s compensation claim and a right to any reports they write about your situation. Ask to be kept in the loop for your own personal records, but don’t do it in person or they can deny that you asked. Instead, send an email and phrase it in a way that requires an answer. The email reply is your paper trail proof that your employer got your request so you can hold them to complying
4) Record Any Conversations About Your Claim
Start keeping a worker’s compensation journal. It can be in your email or as saved text documents, but you’ll want to create a timed and dated record of every step of the process, including conversations you have with others about your claim. If your boss, insurance representative, coworker, doctor, or anyone else involved in the case says something to you about it, write it down. The more precise your notes, the more credible they will be if it comes to a dispute.
5) Keep Your Employer Informed
Worker’s compensation claims have been rejected or mistreated in the past on the grounds that the claimant did things without the knowledge of their employer. To avoid this, keep your employer in the loop about every doctor’s appointment, treatment, consultation, and updates in your injury status. Send emails to create the paper trail and keep your own documents.
Finally, you will want to get in contact with a lawyer. Keeping your records and creating a strong paper trail for your worker’s compensation claim is incredibly important, but most likely you won’t know where to send them or how to defend yourself with these records if the issue gets nasty. An experienced worker’s compensation lawyer can help you make sure every document is filed correctly, that you’re speaking to the right people about your claim, and that your employer (and their insurer) doesn’t get away with trying to pretend any interaction, report, or request doesn’t exist. For more information about how to handle your worker’s compensation claim to avoid getting short-changed or defamed, please contact us today. Here at the Law Office of Joshua Borken, we care about making sure Minnesota workers get the compensation they need and deserve.