With apologies to David Letterman, here are the “Top 10” Things that Every Injured Worker Should Know:
REPORT THE ACCIDENT IN WRITING. Don’t rely on your employer to protect your rights. Prepare a written accident report (Workers Compensation Form C-3), give a copy to your employer and file the original with the Workers Compensation Board.
BE CLEAR ABOUT WHAT HAPPENED AND WHAT HURTS. Be very careful about what you put in the written accident report. The report must be extremely accurate. Identify ALL body parts that hurt due to the accident.
GET MEDICAL CARE FROM PEOPLE WHO KNOW THE SYSTEM. The right doctor can “make or break” your Workers’ Compensation case. Get medical care from a doctor who knows the system and who will “put their pen where their mouth is.” If it isn’t in writing (e.g., your complaints, doctor’s opinions), your claim will be doomed.
DON’T SPEAK TO ANYONE UNTIL YOU GET LEGAL ADVICE. Insurance carriers show up in hospital rooms and at private homes within hours after a work-related accident. They will call you on the telephone and audiotape your conversation without telling you. People are not at their best immediately after an accident. Anything you say (or don’t say) can and will be used against you. Get legal advice BEFORE you speak to anyone.
DON’T SIGN SOMETHING YOU DON’T UNDERSTAND. Insurance carriers ask injured workers to sign numerous documents, including releases which allow the Company to get all kinds of medical and other information about you. Don’t sign something that you don’t fully understand.
ACT QUICKLY ON PUBLIC JOBS–YOU SNOOZE (90 DAYS) AND YOU LOSE. Workers injured on public construction projects have to file a Notice of Claim–NOT a lawsuit–within 90 days from the date of their accident. If they don’t, they can lose their right to bring certain claims no matter how seriously injured they are. Don’t wait and hope that you heal. Get legal advice immediately.
CONSIDER REDUCED EARNINGS IF YOU CAN’T WORK AT YOUR USUAL JOB. You are not “totally disabled” simply because you can no longer perform your usual job. If you are able to work in some capacity, you can “earn” more by working at a modest job than if you don’t work at all. If you work, you can keep you wage AND collect a portion (2/3) of the difference (up to a maximum weekly benefit set by law) between what you earned in your usual job and what you are earning in your new job.
APPLY FOR SOCIAL SECURITY DISABILITY BENEFITS. If you are unable to work due to an illness or injury for at least 12 months, you can collect Social Security Disability benefits even if you later return to work. Do not wait until you have been out of work for 12 months. Apply NOW.
KEEP TRACK OF YOUR MILEAGE AND PARKING EXPENSES. You have a right to be reimbursed for mileage, parking and related expenses you incur to get treatment for a work-related accident. For someone who needs a significant amount of physical therapy or chiropractic care, the mileage and other expenses can really add up. Keep good records and submit these expenses to the insurance carrier for reimbursement.
LET YOUR UNION HELP YOU. Your union leaders know the system and how to get you the help you need to get through this difficult time. Let your experienced union leaders help you.
We wish you good health.