Steps to Take When You Suspect You Have Been Injured at Work
Many workplace injuries are obvious while others may not be so clear. The two different types of injuries recognized in the state of California are:
- Specific Injuries
- Cumulative Trauma Injuries
Specific injuries occur on a specific date and time. For instance, you bend over and lift an item which causes your back to lock up or you trip over a loose cord, fall to the ground and injure your wrist.
Cumulative trauma injuries are due to repetitive work activities that cause injury over time. Over a period of days, weeks, months or even years, the pain and/or problems you experience at work steadily worsens until you need to seek medical attention and, perhaps, cannot continue working. In many instances the repetition is physical, such as you needing to bend and twist repeatedly. Typing all day can also result in carpal tunnel syndrome, a common workplace injury.
Another type of cumulative trauma injury is exposure. Being exposed to paints, solvents and other hazardous materials can cause skin reactions, breathing problems, stomach issues and even cancer.
At any point if you suspect that your medical condition is partially or entirely impacted by your duties in the workplace, it is important to take the following steps:
The First Step to Take after Being Injured at Work
If you have been injured at work, the first thing to do is to report your injury to a supervisor, a manager, or someone of authority in your workplace.
After reporting the injury, you should be provided with a Claim Form which you will need to fill out and return to your employer to start the claim investigation process. It is highly suggested that you fill out the Claim Form with the assistance of an attorney. You can email or telephone Turchin Law with any questions you may have.
Once you return the completed Claim Form to your employer, they have 90 days to investigate your claim at which point they can either:
- Admit that the injury occurred at work
- Deny that your injury is work-related
Seek Medical Treatment as Soon as Possible
After advising your employer that you have been injured at work you should also be offered medical treatment. If medical treatment is not offered, you have every right to ask for it.
Should your employer state that you are not entitled to a medical evaluation, make sure that this is confirmed in writing. Denying you medical treatment is a prohibited denial of your right to see a physician following a claim injury.
In these situations, it is in the best interest of an injured employee to contact Turchin Law at their earliest convenience to protect your rights and to ensure that a claim has been established. Seeking medical help from the best physician for your case and making sure your initial paperwork if properly completed is a very important part of establishing a successful claim for work comp benefits.
Uncovering the Worker’s Compensation Carrier for Your Employer
All employers are required to post the name of their insurance carrier in the workplace for employees and to provide contact information for the insurance company in the event of a work injury.
If your employer has not done so and refuses to provide you with the contact information of their insurance provider, contact Turchin Law as soon as possible to perform the research necessary to identify your employer’s carrier. This service is at no cost to you.
Choosing a Doctor to Treat Your Injuries
Employees have every right to decide which doctor treats them for their work-related injury. It is typically not recommended for you to allow the insurance company to choose your physician as insurance companies tend to choose the most conservative doctor possible to keep costs at a minimum.
In many cases, there are some restrictions with regard to which physicians can and cannot treat your work related injury such as having a Medical Provider Network (MPN). The MPN is a network of physicians in the state of California who have agreed to treat patients who have suffered work-related injuries and who are directed to them through the network.
The physicians in this network cover an array of medical conditions, and some are more liberal in terms of patient care than others. Turchin Law is familiar with many of the physicians who are listed in the various MPNs in Southern California and we make it our priority to identify the best doctors who are most suited to treat our client’s particular injury claims.
What to Do if You Did Not Immediately Report Your Claim
Employees generally have 30 days from the date of their injury to provide their employer with written notice of their workplace injury.
Employers and insurance companies alike have stated that the failure to report a workplace injury when it occurred is a reason to deny a claim. There are a number of reasons, however, why a worker may not report a workplace injury immediately after it occurs:
- A worker may misunderstand the significance of his or her injury and delay medical treatment
- A worker may fear retaliation from his or her employer
- A worker may not understand his or her rights in the workplace-related
If your claim has been denied because of a delay in reporting your injury, seek legal guidance as soon as possible. If you still have not reported your injury to your employer, it is imperative that you contact Turchin Law immediately so that we can work with you on the best strategy to file a successful claim.
What to Do if Your Claim Was Denied
A denied claim will be accompanied by a written notice from the insurance company which will include the reason why your claim was denied. This does not necessarily mean that you will not receive benefits, and you can always make an appeal.
Turchin Law has the resources and experience necessary to ensure that your case is properly reviewed by the Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board and with the information they need establish legitimacy to your claim and to re-evaluate your case including:
- Interviews from witnesses
- Information and insight from depositions
- Appropriate pay and benefits
- Ensuring that your treating physicians are given a true and accurate history of your claim to ensure that the medical reports generated support your claim of work-related injury.
It is important that injured workers continue to receive medical treatment during this time even if their case is denied. Prior to the judge ruling on the validity of your claim, the benefits you receive are not your responsibility to pay back even in the event that you lose your case. Call Turchin Law to ensure that these protections are in place for your case.
Your Doctor Clears You to Return to Work
In many instances your doctor will say that you can return to work (RTW) while performing modified duties which may involve:
- Lifting restrictions
- Bending restrictions
- Sitting restrictions
- Modified hours
Doctors at the Occupational Clinic have one goal in mind: to get you back to work as soon as possible. In some instances a doctor will state that an injured worker is able to return to work when a worker believes he or she is not ready for work. In other instances, an employer may refuse to accommodate the restrictions provided by the doctor and insist that an employee perform work which is beyond his or her physical capabilities.
This is when it is critical for you to protect your health and your rights by retaining an workers’ compensation lawyer at Turchin Law. Our law firm has an established track record of fighting against these bogus attempts to deny benefits by claiming an injured worker is able to work despite their injuries. At Turchin Law, we have an experienced team who will object the treating doctors’ findings and obtain third party opinions from trusted physicians in the medical community who will fairly evaluate your condition to ensure that you will not further injure yourself by working beyond your physical capabilities.
Concerns About Taxes and Benefits
Injured workers do not need to pay taxes on their benefits. This is why you receive two-thirds of your average weekly wages as the workers’ compensation wage assumes that the general American population is paying approximately one-third of their salary in taxes.
It is also important to note that current and future medical payments are not taxable.
In terms of benefits, should an employer have provided a benefit to an injured employer prior to injury, it is then your right to be treated as any other employee who has had to miss time from work to be treated.
For example, if an employer’s policy is to pay your medical benefits through private medical insurance offered to you for 6 months after you have been forced to leave work due to injury or disability (whether the injury/illness is work-related or not) that same policy must apply to those who are injured on the job. If you were required to pay any or all of your premium for your medical insurance prior to injury, you would then be obligated to pay your share of the benefits owed unless a policy specified during a medical leave states otherwise.
Seeking Employment Justice Through Turchin Law
The sooner you seek legal guidance for your claim, the better your results will likely be. While bringing in legal assistance can improve your chances of receiving the benefits you need to safeguard your health and well-bring at any point of the claims process.
Very few workers’ compensation cases go to trial, and Turchin Law is proud to have over a 90% success rate in establishing that an injured worker has a valid claim and that you are entitled to a plethora of benefits necessary to ensure that you return to optimal health after your workplace injury.
If you have been injured at work and want to discuss your claim, we welcome you to contact Turchin Law. Based out of Los Angeles, we are committed to educating and protecting the rights of hard working Americans and encourage all injured workers and those interested in learning about their rights to give us a call at (818) 230-3110.