Injured While On The Job? 5 FAQ About Worker's Compensation

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Being injured at work can definitely be concerning, especially if it's your first time and you don't understand the process. You will probably have a lot of questions you'll want answered. Here are 5 commonly asked questions about worker's compensation and the medical care that is involved.

Q: Do you have to report an injury even if you don't need medical treatment?

A: Yes. It's important to report every injury, even ones that seem very insignificant. Minor injuries may worsen over time especially if they are due to repeated movements while at work. It's important to have a paper trail of injury reports to back your claim that you were injured at work.

For example, you may have twisted your ankle from slipping on the floor at work, but dismissed it because it didn't feel too bad. The next morning, you may not be able to put pressure on it. When you arrive at work and report your injury, but you are told the claim may be denied because you cannot prove that you twisted your ankle at work. It could have happened at home instead. Therefore, always report every injury, no matter how minor they may seem.

Q: Does your employer explain everything to you about the process and the requirements?

A: Maybe. This all depends on your employer. Most employers do a good job at explaining everything. Some employers even have printed materials and brochures, especially those in high-injury industries such as warehousing and nursing. However, don't assume that you will know everything you need to know from your employer.

To get the most information possible, speak with an ombudsman. If you work for the state, you can speak with the worker's compensation official for your state.

Q: Do you have to see the doctor your employer tells you to see?

A: Yes. Unfortunately, you will not be able to see your regular family doctor for your work-related injuries, unless he or she is assigned as a medical care provider for your employer's workers compensation insurance.

If you do not see the doctor your employer tells you to see, your medical bills may not be covered by the workers compensation benefits. And, to make matters worse, you may not get any benefits at all for your lost time and wages due to your injuries because your claim may be denied altogether.

Q: Does the doctor and the nurse case manager determine your status?

A: No. Only the doctor can make that determination. Your nurse case manager cannot determine, suggest or recommend anything to your doctor. The nurse case manager is there simply to represent the insurance company.

His or her job is to try to keep costs low, and this may mean trying to speed things along prematurely. However, doctors are fully aware of this type of tactic and have the final say in how long you will need treatment, if your injuries are permanent or temporary, whether or not you'll be returning to work, and when.

Q: Does the nurse case manager make appointments for you?

A: Yes. Since part of the role of your nurse case manager is to facilitate appointments and treatment, they will make your appointments for you. Another reason is because your nurse case manager will likely be at each of your appointments whether you want him or her there or not.

This does not mean that your nurse case manager will be in the examination room with you or by your side for your treatments. You can request that he or she remain in the waiting room instead. If you have any problems with your nurse case manager, hire an attorney to deal with the problems.

Your main focus should be on recovering from your injuries so you can get back to work, not the process of receiving your benefits and medical care. If you have any other questions, hire an attorney who specializes in worker's compensation law. 

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