I’m often asked by injured workers, and sometimes by doctors as well, what they should do to have the most success in their workers compensation claims (or their patients). While there is no one tried and true way to make sure that your claim will go smoothly because of the many variables involved in workers compensation, there are some important guidelines that I believe can assist you in finding success.
First, TAKE THE RIDE (to the ER, Urgent Care, your Chiropractor, or even a Family Doctor). What I mean by this is that if you are significantly injured, go to the ER THAT DAY, and do not wait until the next day or the next week. The easiest claims to get allowed are ones where the injured worker has chosen to seek treatment the same day that they are injured. It eliminates the ability for the BWC or the employer to argue that the injury occurred at home or in another fashion. Don’t let there be a gap in care between your injury and seeking medical attention.
Second, FILL OUT THE PAPERWORK. The BWC process is filled with all kinds of forms to fill out. The most important form you will fill out in the entire process is the first you will fill out, which is called a FROI (First Report of Injury). This is where you document in writing HOW you were hurt and WHAT body parts were injured. I can’t emphasize enough how important this form is. It can make or break a claim. Remember, if it hurts, put it on the form. If you hurt your low back and neck, make sure both are documented. If you go to the ER and fill one out, keep in mind that they will likely only put the most significant body part on the form, so make sure that YOU fill it out. Otherwise, follow-up the next day with your family physician or chiropractor and fill out another FROI. The hearing officers understand that ERs often don’t tell the whole story.
Third, NOTIFY THE EMPLOYER. You really need to report the injury to the employer the day it occurs. You should fill out an accident report, or if your employer does not have one, you should write out a statement that describes the injury and sign and date the statement. Make sure that you keep a copy of it for your records. It’s important to have this in writing so that the employer cannot allege that you did not inform them of the injury taking place, particularly if the injury is taking place somewhere other than on the employers premises (in the case of people that drive or travel for a living).
Finally, CALL AN ATTORNEY. Believe it or not, we have a job for a reason. The workers’ compensation system is a mine field and can blow up in your face quickly. What you may initially believe is a simple injury can often develop into something more significant and chronic. From an attorneys perspective, the more quickly that we can get our hands on your claim, the more success we will have in steering you in the right direction. The goal is to get you better, let us worry about the phone calls and paperwork. Attorneys work directly with your doctors to get you the care you deserve, and we act as your agent fielding calls and dealing with the day-to-day items for which you don’t have time.