In an ideal world, the time you spend immediately after being seriously injured in your workplace should be in recovery. Unfortunately, we live in the real world where health care costs money and neither you nor your employer want to be the ones to pay for it. Even if your boss has always been cool and you are well liked at your job, when the topic of worker’s compensation comes up, suddenly all that goodwill and loyalty is nowhere to be seen. Time and time again we have seen hard working employees denied workers compensation, pushed to drop the claim, asked to return to work early or find their jobs at risk, and even called liars all as tactics to allow an employer to wiggle out of paying the insurance costs for your injury.
However, often the most insidious way workplaces deal with workers comp claims and expenses is to seem like they are cooperating. They say all the right things, show concern, encourage you to recover, and then you look at the actual amount their insurance is offering and it’s not enough. In fact, just when employers seem to be treating your injury with the respect and consideration it deserves, you realize they’ve massively underbid the cost of your healthcare, the wages you will lose, and the benefits you need to recover.
You need to know how to avoid this catastrophe of running out of money while you’re still recovering, being denied benefits, and having no recourse because you accepted the deal. Today, we’re here to talk about how to calculate which offers are insultingly and unsurvivably low-bar.
Actually Calculate Your Lost Wages
One of the biggest ways that employers and their insurance claim adjusters try to lowball injured employees is to miscalculate their lost wages. This is not an accident or oversight. They know how much you make in a month, they know how long you plan to be on recovery leave, and they can do basic multiplication. Fortunately, you’re just as well equipped to do this math problem. Don’t trust what the company tells you will be your lost and compensated wages. Whip out a calculator and actually figure out how many hours of work you’ll be missing due to the injury and what that will cost you in terms of wages. If they’re arguing anything lower, look for number ‘fudging’. A company might list you as holding a lower position than you do, misrepresent your wages, or misrepresent your regularly worked hours. However, your pay stubs and time clock will quickly reveal the truth.
Get a Third Party Estimate for Your Healthcare Needs
Do NOT trust any insurance agency provided doctor’s estimate of your injuries, healthcare needs, or time needed for recovery. It is in both your employer’s and their insurance company’s best interest to underestimate your injury, underbid on how much care you will need including treatment and therapy appointments, how long until you can work again, and how much all of this will cost. This means that you can’t trust estimates made by these sources.
Instead, go and see your regular family doctor or even schedule an appointment with a third party doctor who has nothing to do with the situation. Explain the injury and that you need a very clear and written report on the state of your injury and exactly what will be required to recover.
Keep All Receipts and Documents
You need to keep track of everything that happens from the moment you are injured in order to defend your claim against false assertions that you are lying or misrepresenting yourself, the incident, or the extent of your injury. Keep a copy of the original injury report and receipts for any medical care you seek while jumping through the worker’s comp hoops. Keep a copy of your doctor’s report and any reports you get from insurance doctors. If the company produces or references documentation, keep copies of that as well. Any paper, message, or email that has to do with the issue, keep it just in case it becomes important later.
We should also note that if your employer sends you notes or email discouraging you from seeking, completing, pursuing full and just workers compensation, keep these as well. If the discouragement comes in the form of a private conversation, write it down immediately and email it.
Work With a Worker’s Compensation Lawyer
Finally, it’s an unfortunate fact that when it’s little you against the big company, many workers find themselves overwhelmed with the extent their employers and insurance agencies will go to quash their claim, deny, delay, and underpay. If you think there’s even a chance you are being swindled, scammed, scammed, or harassed out of your full deserved and needed worker’s compensation, your best bet is to work with a lawyer who is experienced with the complications of worker’s comp. They can help you file every document correctly so you can’t be denied based on a mistake and having a lawyer on hand makes it clear to your employer that if they try to harass or short-change you, the issue could quickly result in a messy lawsuit that will cost them more money than just paying you as well as being bad for their PR.
For more information on how to defend yourself and your workers’ compensation settlement even when it seems like your employer is cooperating, please contact us today. We’re here to help.