Don’t Make These Common Workers’ Compensation Mistakes

Don’t Make These Common Workers’ Compensation MistakesThere are many actions that may adversely affect a Missouri or Kansas workers’ compensation claim. These claims may affect your right to benefits or cause the employer to seek to terminate your benefits. Improper conduct may also result in an effort by the employer to contest whether you have a claim at all. It’s critical that you speak with a seasoned workers’ compensation lawyer about your claim. We’ll explain the dos and don’ts that apply to your work injury case.

What if I don’t seek medical treatment?

Injured employees have the right to seek medical treatment for any injuries that are caused by a workplace accident or an occupational illness. Medical treatments include ER care, surgeries, visits with doctors, and time with different therapists; like physical, occupational, and vocational therapists. In most cases, workers must begin their treatment by choosing from a list of employer-approved doctors. If these physicians aren’t providing quality care, then you do have the right to request a change of doctors to one that you prefer.

There are several key reasons why you should begin your medical care immediately.

  • First, the sooner you seek medical help, the faster physicians can diagnose your condition and begin to improve your health.
  • Second, seeking prompt care indicates that your injuries are severe. If you wait weeks or months to see a doctor, that raises a concern (a red flag) that you’re not really hurt.
  • Third, the sooner you start treatment, the sooner you can request a change in doctors from the company doctors to your own personal doctors if the company doctors aren’t helping you get better.

Insurance companies for the employer have a duty to pay all the medical bills (care, treatment, and assistive devices) that help improve your health or keep your condition from worsening.

It’s not enough to begin treatment. You must continue the treatment. This means you must keep your appointments and follow through on the advice the health providers provide to you. Often, employers will assign a nurse case manager to your case to make sure you are indeed keeping your appointments and working to get better. The case manager will let the employer know if you are not in compliance, and if so, your employer will then seek to terminate your benefits.

Should I post on social media while my workers’ compensation case is pending?

No. Any text, pictures, or video that you post on social media can be used against you. The insurance company will try to access your Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, and other social media accounts. They will look for evidence that you are healthy even though you claim you are not. If you claim a back injury, a picture showing you playing basketball or lifting your son or daughter can indicate that your back injury really isn’t that bad. If you claim you have carpal tunnel syndrome and you post videos typing at your computer, doing carpentry work, or anything that shows you can use your wrist and hand, those posts can be used to terminate your claim.

It is generally advisable not to do any posting or commenting on social media from the time you are injured until the time your case is fully resolved. It is best not to give your employer’s insurance company any reason to try to end your claim or allege it’s fraudulent.

Can I work while collecting workers’ compensation benefits?

Generally, it’s not a good idea to do anything secretive while you’re applying for or receiving workers’ compensation benefits.

Under both Missouri and Kansas law, employers are required to pay workers who are injured:

  • Compensation for all medical bills. These bills are normally paid directly to your healthcare provider.
  • Temporary wage loss benefits. These benefits are approximately 2/3 of your average weekly wages for as long as you are seeking medical help to improve your health.
  • Permanent wage loss benefits. These are additional wage loss benefits payable if you have a qualifying permanent injury. The benefits may be adjusted depending on the severity of your injuries.
  • Vocational benefits. These benefits may be payable if you need to be retrained or go back to school in order to obtain a new job when you are unable to continue working at your old job.

These benefits should cover most of your bills.

If you can work with medical restrictions, your employer should pay you about 2/3 of the difference between the wages you earned prior to the workplace accident and your current wages, which may be less than the pre-accident pay. Working with restrictions often means you’re paid less because you’re doing less strenuous work.

There are several problems if you try to work at a second job:

  • Your employer will likely try to terminate your benefits because working at another job indicates you have recovered from your injuries and you are able to work.
  • If you fail to report any income you earn, you may be charged with fraud. You may also face charges from the IRS for not reporting your income.

If you work at a second job but perform less strenuous tasks, you may be able to claim workers’ compensation benefits from your original employer, though these benefits will be adjusted based on your second-job income.

At Kansas City Accident Injury Attorneys, we understand how worried workers are about paying their bills. We appreciate that some workers will try everything they can to return to work as quickly as possible. We also understand the strategies employers and their insurers will use to try to show you’re not complying with the rules, or are misrepresenting the severity of your injuries. If you were hurt on the job, call us directly at (816) 471-5111 or fill out our contact form to make an appointment.