DO’S AND DON’TS
Report the injury as soon as possible to a supervisor and obtain documentation that you reported it. Every employer is required by law to complete an accident report after receiving notice of an on the job Injury. This report is generally referred to as a Form 1007. Make sure that you obtain this documentation from your employer as soon as possible and make sure the accident date and reporting dates are correct. If these dates are not correct have the report amended as soon as possible. DO NOT WAIT TO REPORT THE INJURY. Some employees will wait to report the injury because they think the injury is not a big deal but then their condition worsens. If it is reported too long after the accident the insurance company may use this against you to say that your injury happened somewhere else and not at work.
Seek medical treatment as soon as possible. You need to be able to document your injuries and the best way to do this is by seeing a medical professional. Make sure that you explain to the doctor exactly how the accident happened and what body parts you injured in the accident. Once again, do not wait to see a doctor because you think the problem will just go away. If you do, the insurance company may try and say that you are not really injured because you did not go see a doctor right away. Also, follow all medical recommendations of your doctor.
Find out who your employer’s workers compensation insurance company is. Many employers do not take workers compensation claims with the seriousness they are entitled to and we have dealt with numerous cases where the employer does not even report the accident to the insurance company timely. If you are able to obtain the insurance company information a claim can be made directly with the insurance company.
Write down the names of any witnesses as well as their telephone number and address if you are able to obtain this. If the occurrence of an accident is denied by the insurance company their testimony or statement can be invaluable to the successful prosecution of your claim.
Keep a log or journal. Document all information about your workers’ compensation claim including witnesses, reporting information and medical treatment. Also, document your pain and the problems your injury is causing you in your daily life and activities.
Do not give a statement without consulting an attorney. When an insurance company receives notice of a claim the claim is assigned to an adjuster. One of the first things the adjuster does is contact you and will want to take a recorded statement. Many times the adjuster will tell you that the claim will not be accepted unless you give a statement. However, you are not required by law to give a statement at all. In many cases, the statement is used later in litigation against you. In limited cases it may be worthwhile to give a statement but not often so consult an attorney before doing so.
Do not sign any documents without consulting an attorney. An employee may be required to fill out some documents after the accident occurs. However, in most cases employers or insurance companies try and have you sign many forms that you are not required to complete for the sole purpose of obtaining information to use against you. Some employers have even gone as far as to have an employee sign a full release right after the accident.
In particular, do not sign a Choice of Physician Form with a company doctor. After you report an accident the employer or insurance company will generally send you to a “company doctor”. Sometimes they will even go so far as to tell you that you can only see the employer doctor and you are not allowed to see your own doctor. That is just not true. Many of the same doctors are used by employers and insurance companies. They will send employees to these doctors right after the accident happens and then try and have you sign a form saying that you are selecting their doctor as your choice. They do this for a reason. In our opinion, an employer doctor is not going to give you the time or medical treatment that you need to recover. If they do, then employers will stop sending them their injured employees for treatment. They know where their bread is buttered so to speak. Only sign a Choice of Physician Form for a doctor that you have chosen, not a doctor that insurance companies or employers send you too. This is critically important.
Don’t discuss the claim with anyone except your attorney, family or medical professional. This particularly applies with any agents of the insurance company such as adjusters, nurses, case managers and attorneys.