If you’ve been injured on the job in Wisconsin, you may be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits. But, even if you are clearly entitled to compensation, this doesn’t mean that it will be easy to collect the benefits you deserve. You need to take several steps to protect your rights, and there are also several costly mistakes you need to avoid.
Here are 10 common mistakes you need to avoid when filing for workers’ compensation benefits in Wisconsin:
1. Waiting Too Long to Report Your Injury
In Wisconsin, you only have 30 days to report a job-related injury. If you wait longer than 30 days, you could lose your right to workers’ compensation benefits.
However, while you have up to 30 days, you really shouldn’t wait any longer than necessary. Even if you report your injury within 30 days, waiting could make it more difficult to prove that you are entitled to benefits. Your employer may try to dispute that the accident happened, and your employer’s insurance company may try to argue that you can’t prove your injury is work-related.
2. Including Inaccurate Information on Your Injury Report
When reporting your injury to your employer, you need to be as accurate as possible. You do not want to say anything that isn’t true. Do not make any assumptions; if you don’t know something, state that you don’t know. Even if you inadvertently provide false or misleading information, this could create problems for your workers’ compensation claim.
3. Seeing a Company Doctor
Under Wisconsin law, you have the right to see a doctor of your choosing (this isn’t the case in all states). You should exercise this right—and you should not see a company doctor if one is available to you. If you needed emergency treatment and you saw a company doctor, that’s okay, but you will want to choose your own doctor going forward.
4. Failing to Follow Through with Your Medical Care
Once you receive a diagnosis and treatment recommendations, you need to follow through with your medical care. Ignoring medical advice is among the most common mistakes workers make after getting injured on the job. If you ignore your doctor’s advice, not only could this hinder your recovery, but it could lead to challenges with your workers’ compensation claim as well.
If you aren’t sure what your doctor has recommended, you should call the office to inquire. Make sure you get your prescriptions filled and make arrangements to be at all of your follow-up appointments on time.
5. Returning to Work Too Soon
As part of following your doctor’s advice, you need to make sure you do not return to work too soon. Even if you feel good enough to work, you still need to rest if this is what your doctor recommends. Broken bones, strains and tears, tendonitis, and other common types of work injuries can take several weeks or months to heal, and resuming work too soon could lead to setbacks with your recovery. If the insurance company says that you are responsible for these setbacks, your additional medical expenses might not be covered.
6. Letting the Insurance Company Calculate Your Benefits
Most employees who file for workers’ compensation on their own let the insurance company calculate their benefits. While the insurance company might calculate your benefits correctly, it also might not. To make sure you receive the full benefits to which you are legally entitled, you will want to double-check the insurance company’s calculation and raise any concerns you have.
This is especially important concerning disability benefits. Temporary and permanent disability benefits are calculated differently, and the amount you are entitled to receive depends on your individual circumstances. The insurance company might try to pay less than the full amount you are owed; and, if it does, you will need to know so that you can address the issue promptly.
7. Accepting a Denial of Benefits
Sometimes insurance companies will deny benefits outright. If you receive a denial of benefits, you should not let this be the last word on your claim. Instead, you should talk to a lawyer to find out if the denial was justified. If it weren’t (as is often the case), your lawyer would be able to deal with the insurance company for you and work to address any issues that may be responsible for your denial.
8. Failing to Prepare for Your Independent Medical Exam (IME)
After you file for workers’ compensation benefits, your employer’s insurance company may say that you need to attend an independent medical exam (IME). This is an exam conducted by a doctor who works with an insurance company. As such, it really isn’t “independent” at all.
Before attending an IME, you need to prepare. You need to know what to say, what not to say, and what to do once the exam is over. A lawyer can help you with this as well.
9. Giving Up on Your Claim
Given all of the challenges involved in filing for workers’ compensation benefits, some workers simply give up. They get tired of dealing with the insurance company, and they decide that the hassle isn’t worth any benefits they may eventually be able to recover.
However, you should not give up on your claim under any circumstances. Job-related injuries can be incredibly costly, and you deserve to collect benefits if you qualify. Down the line, you will be happy that you put in the effort to file a successful claim.
10. Trying to Handle Your Situation on Your Own
If you need to file for workers’ compensation, you don’t have to handle your situation on your own. A lawyer can help you, and you can hire a lawyer at no out-of-pocket cost. Legal fees for workers’ compensation claims are capped at 20 percent of the amount in dispute, and an experienced lawyer may be able to help you recover far more than you could recover on your own.
Schedule a Free Workers’ Comp Consultation at Mays Law Office
Do you need to file a claim for workers’ compensation benefits? If so, we encourage you to contact us for a free, no-obligation consultation. To speak with an experienced workers’ compensation lawyer at Mays Law Office in confidence, call 608-257-0440 or tell us how we can reach you online now.