What to do AFTER you suffer an On-The-Job injury
By: Paul D. Cadman, Esq.
After sustaining an employment-related injury, the most important first step the injured worker can take is to advise the supervisor right away. If your injury or illness develops over time, such as repetitive wrist pain or a hearing loss, report it as soon as you learn that it may have been caused by your job. Early reporting can prevent problems in receiving benefits including medical care to avoid re-injury or further aggravation.
If, of course, your injury is a medical emergency, proceed to an emergency room at once. Be sure you tell the hospital or emergency room workers that your injury or illness is job related.
Upon notification of your job injury, your employer is required to provide you with a claim form within one working day after learning of your injury. Fill out and sign the employee portion of the claim form (located on the top box of the form)
Describe your injury in as much detail as you can, and include every body part. Give this form to your employer as soon as possible and retain a copy for yourself.
Unless you have pre-designated your personal physician at your job, the insurance company or claims administrator is usually allowed to choose the doctor who treats you for the first 30 days after your employer learns of your injury. After the 30 day period has elapsed, you can switch to the doctor of your choice if you still require medical care.
Another important step in the injured worker process is the consultation of a qualified workers compensation law firm. As you may be aware, the workers’ compensation arena is very crowded with injured workers. Therefore, it is best to choose a firm that is neither too big to provide personal attention, nor too small (such as a single lawyer) who may not have time to give the injured worker individual attention. The law firm should specialize in workers’ compensation and labor issues, as opposed to a general practice which handles a few workers compensation cases. Fast attorney’s in the firm of the workers compensation law firm should have extensive experience in all aspects of handling a file. Nobody wants a lawyer who is “learningon their case due to inexperience. On the other hand, select a lawyer who remains enthusiastic about presenting and preserving the rights of the injured worker. Upon speaking with a qualified workers’ compensation attorney, be sure to insist that your questions and concerns are addressed and answered prior to you entering into a retainer agreement with the lawyer. The fees charged on a workers compensation case are determined by law and cannot exceed 15%’ in most circumstances. It is indeed against the law for any lawyer to try and charge a client an up front fee or a document review fee prior to the undertaking of a workers compensation case. All fees earned by the lawyer of a law firm comes out of the settlement or award of the injured workers case.
In short, a positive injured worker-attorney relationship is one where both parties understand their respective roles. The injured worker understands that his or her role is to provide the attorney complete information about the nature of the injury, the current address of the injured worker, and the progress of the injured workers recovery. The injured worker understands that the workers compensation system can sometimes not be as speedy as everyone would like and understands that there may not be a daily or weekly update in the injured workers case. The attorney understands that his or her role is to provide the client with updated status when needed, and secure the best possible results for the client given the particular nature of the case. The well informed injured worker also needs to be aware that every case is different and that one person in five industrially injured hands can be worth a completely different amount of benefits than another person based upon differences in age, occupation, different needs for future medical care, and different levels, if any, of pre-employment injury to the body part in question. Therefore, it is of no use to the attorney if the injured worker advises him or her that another injured worker with a similar problem received “X” amount of dollars on their case.
Establishing a positive working relationship with an experience and skilled workers compensation attorney is indeed the key to maximizing all benefits due to the injured worker.
For All Workers Comp Claims, CWA 9400 recommends
Levy, Stern and Ford
Los Angeles- 213-380-3140
San Fernando Valley- 818-566-7234