When you suffer a serious injury on the job that will prevent you from working for an extended period of time, one of the best decisions you can make is to file a workers’ compensation claim. Workers’ compensation can provide the financial support you need until you’re able to return to work. However, if you’ve never had to take part in the claims process before, you might be a little intimidated at the prospect.
Fortunately, once you understand the steps, you’ll see that the claims process isn’t as difficult as you might have imagined. Learn about the process of filing workers’ comp claims and find out why you may need to hire a workers’ compensation attorney for help with your claim.
Meeting Filing Deadlines
The most important part of the workers’ comp claim process is making sure that you submit your claim before the filing deadline has expired. While this deadline can vary from state to state, it will typically be 30 days following your accident. If you want to make sure you get the compensation you need, be certain to file your claim as soon as you are able to after your accident.
Once your claim has been filed with your workers’ compensation insurer, the next step is usually an independent medical examination (IME). Your insurer will select a doctor to perform the IME and to determine the extent of your injuries. The doctor selected by the insurance company will almost always be one who will give a report that favors the insurer.
At the start of the examination, you will give your doctor an in-depth description of your medical history, explain how your injury occurred and describe what symptoms you are experiencing. After this, the doctor will perform your exam. If you are uncooperative during the IME, it may result in a loss of your workers’ compensation benefits.
Depending on the state where you live and work, you might be required to undergo an impartial medical examination. In these exams, a doctor who is known to be impartial will be selected randomly from a list maintained by your state’s workers’ compensation board. When a doctor is considered impartial, it means their previous reports have shown no bias in favor of either the insurer or the worker.
The reason an impartial exam is so important is that judges will generally consider them binding evidence. So, if the impartial exam disagrees with your personal doctor’s report, the judge in your claim will favor the impartial exam.
The Hearing Process
After your medical examination, you will need to complete the hearing process. This can be a single hearing or multiple hearings depending on your state’s rules. During the hearing, several issues related to your workers’ compensation claim will be resolved. These issues can include whether you actually suffered an on the job injury, the extent of your disability, what your pre-injury wages were and whether your insurer should be required to cover your medical bills.
Before you attend a workers’ comp hearing, you should be sure to consult a workers’ compensation attorney. These hearings are often extremely complicated, and having an attorney on your side can make the process much easier.
Get Help with Your Workers’ Comp Claim
If you have questions about the best way to handle workers’ compensation claims, you should speak with one of the knowledgeable professionals at Harris & Graves. We understand the workers’ compensation system and can give you the advice you need to increase your chances of a successful claim.