Common Mistakes Made by Injured Workers
Getting the work comp benefits you need after a work injury is often a complicated process.
After being injured at work, it is an employees responsibility to report the injury to his or her employer. However, the process is often complicated and a number of things can go wrong and result in the injured worker getting benefits that are either too low or are outright denied.
This situation is often created because the injured worker made some common mistakes in the process of getting their workers compensation benefits. The following examples will shed light on how to avoid making some of these mistakes.
Work Comp Claims – Common Mistakes to Avoid
Example 1: Despite significant ongoing shoulder pain from your work injury, the workers comp doctor releases you.
Verbal requests to your employer for more treatment usually get ignored. They will usually deny that you ever made the request. Give a letter to your employer and keep copies and make sure you date it!!! Text messages and emails are no good unless you get a response confirming they received it.
Telling your employer that “my shoulder hurts” means what? Instead, tell them that the work comp doctor released you despite ongoing pain from your shoulder injury, that work is hurting your shoulder, request more treatment, and then give your employer a letter confirming what was said.
- Common Mistake: You then go to your primary care physician (PCP) and vaguely mention a work injury but focus your conversation on deer hunting, as that is your passion, and how your shoulder hurt during deer hunting.
If this happens, chances are your PCP records won’t mention a work injury. You need to be perfectly clear with your private doctors that your pain is from a work injury. They are not mind readers, so you need to be specific.
For example you should tell you doctor, “My pain started on (the specific date) when I hurt my shoulder at work. The work comp doctor only prescribed 10 physical therapy sessions and said it was a strain. He released me even though my pain was bad. He said to return to full duty, do my weight lifting…. all of which I can hardly do, or can’t do, because of the pain. I even have pain sitting in a deer stand holding a gun. All of this started at work and it is easily aggravated with everything I do.”
- Common Mistake: The work comp doctor releases you despite ongoing pain and says you’ll be OK. And you say OK and leave.
You need to be your own best advocate!!! Tell your doctor, “My pain is worse and I want to see a specialist.” or “Doctor I can’t lift my arm above my head due to pain, you did not do a MRI and I have trouble sleeping at night due to pain and I am miserable during the day. Please send me to a shoulder specialist.”
When the doc says “you’ll be fine”…. You need to keep asking tough questions. And then, within a few days, give a letter to the front desk, addressed to the doctor, confirming what was said. Date it and keep copies!!!! I can almost guarantee that your conversation will not be in your medical records.
Example 2: Your job, over time, is causing you more and more back pain. You go home after work and rest. It feels better. At work it gets worse.
- Common Mistake: You see your primary care physician (PCP) and only say “my back hurts.” Again, they are not mind readers. Tell your doctor about your job, how your duties cause your back pain and how you only rest at home. When your doctor says that your work over time is causing your back pain, then do a written report of injury to your employer as now you have a medical opinion that work has caused a repetitive use injury.
- Common Mistake: You tell your boss that your back hurts but never tell him why and never ask for treatment under workers compensation.
Instead, give your boss a letter explaining how lifting boxes for the past 5 years at work has gradually caused more and more back pain. Then request treatment.
- Common Mistake: You talk with a lawyer about your Missouri workers compensation rights. NEVER say to your doctor or a work comp doctor “my attorney said….”
Law Office of James M. Hoffmann
When we take your case, we make recovering benefits for you our priority, and we put decades of experience, a proven record of success and a client focused approach behind your workers’ compensation or personal injury case.