Experiencing an injury at work is a stressful event, especially when it leaves you unable to continue performing your normal job duties or make a sustainable living for your family. Workers’ compensation is designed to provide you with benefits that can support you in the event that you experience an injury while on the job that leaves you unable to return to work in the near future or ever again.
To ensure that you receive the benefits you need, avoid making these 7 mistakes after you experience your workplace injury:
Mistake #1: Failing to Follow Injury Reporting Procedure
In the state of Iowa, you must report your injury to your employer within 90 days of its occurrence. Failing to report the injury to your employer in a timely manner could prevent you from being able to receive workers’ compensation benefits. Your employer has to file a first report of injury within four days of notice or knowledge of the injury. It’s important that you take immediate action, even if you are unsure if the injury is serious. Delaying the report of injury, could negatively impact your case and right to benefits. Follow any procedures or guidelines that have been outlined by the company with regard to reporting your injury.
Mistake #2: Inaccurately Reporting Your Injury
The facts surrounding your injury are extremely—the when, where, and how. If you experience an injury at work, do your best to document what happened and be as accurate and as detailed as possible. Your employer’s insurance carrier will seek to verify any reported injuries before releasing benefits to you. It’s also important to understand that you have the right to receive workers’ compensation benefits in the event of an injury sustained at work, even if you were the one at fault.
Mistake #3: Getting Treatment from an Unapproved Healthcare Provider
Failing to visit a medical care provider that has been pre-approved by your employer and their insurance carrier could also prevent you from receiving financial benefits to cover your medical bills. In the state of Iowa, your employer has the right to choose the care provider you visit. That being said, according to the Iowa Workforce Development Division of Workers’ Compensation, you do have the option to “request alternate care, and if your employer (or its carrier) does not allow that care, you may file a petition for alternate medical care before the Iowa Workers’ Compensation Commissioner.” Additionally, in an emergency situation, you may seek appropriate care and notify your employer as soon as possible about the care you sought.
Mistake #4: Failing to Show Up for Light Duty Work
In some cases after experiencing an injury on the job, your employer may ask you to return to work to perform what is known as known as “light duty work” during your healing period. This type of work is given to workers who, because of the nature of their injury, cannot perform their regular job duties but can perform other duties that would be valuable and worthwhile to the business.
Not all employees like the idea of light duty work because it can fall outside of their expertise, but failing to show up for work during your healing period is generally not recommended. Doing so could lead your employer to terminate or suspend any workers compensation benefits you are owed. If you do not feel that you can perform the light duty work that you are provided within your work restrictions, it is important to explain this to your employer and put it in writing to protect your rights.
Mistake # 5: Not Following Notification Rules When You Have to Miss Work
If you experience a work injury but your employer still wants you to come in to perform light duty work, you may still have to miss time from work to get treatment for your injury. When you know these days are coming up, be sure to take the necessary steps to notify your employer that you will be unable to come into work on the specified days.
Your employer likely has a procedure in place that they ask all employees to use when a day of is needed. If you are seeking treatment for your work related injury, you should be paid for the time that you have to miss work. It is very important to communicate with your employer to let them know when these appointments will occur and try to schedule appointments outside of work hours when you can.
Mistake #6: Being Unprofessional to Your Employer, Customers, and Coworkers
If you return to work during your healing period, it’s important that you do what you can to remain professional when communicating and working with customers, coworkers, and your manager. You should not talk about your work injury or your case with your supervisors or co-employees unless absolutely necessary. It is very important that when you return to work, you focus on doing your job to the best of your ability.
Mistake #7: Not Contacting a Legal Professional When You Need Help or Advice
One of the biggest mistakes you can make when dealing with a work injury is not understanding your rights as an employee and the workers’ compensation laws that protect you. If you have a question or need advice, the best step to take is to reach out to a legal professional. At the Platt Law firm, we offer free consultations for personal injury and workers compensation inquiries, and we will travel to meet with you if you live outside of the Des Moines area. Contact us today to get answers to your questions.