When you are injured on the job and file a workers’ compensation claim, you assume it will be approved and you will receive the compensation you need while recuperating from your injury. Unfortunately, things do not always work out as you may have hoped. In fact, the majority of workers’ compensation claims are denied by insurers for various reasons. In most instances, common reasons include the claim not being filed in time, your employer disputes the claim, failure to seek medical treatment for your injuries, and insufficient evidence that the injury was work-related. Yet no matter what reason is given for your claim being denied, do not choose to simply give up. If you know you deserve workers’ compensation for your injuries, here are the next steps you should take immediately.
Hire an Attorney
If you filed your workers’ compensation claim on your own and watched as it was denied, do not choose to fight the battle going forward on your own. Instead, immediately hire an attorney who is experienced and knowledgeable in handling workers’ compensation claims. In fact, look for a lawyer who handles workers’ compensation cases exclusively. By hiring an attorney who specializes in this area, you can discuss your case in great detail and be given expert advice as to how you should proceed.
Meet the Deadlines
When you received the letter telling you your claim was denied, it likely contained a date that would serve as the deadline for filing your appeal. In most states, this is 30 days from the date you received the letter. Since these deadlines are looked at very strictly by courts, do not procrastinate upon receiving your letter. Should you miss the deadline for filing your appeal, chances are your case will be dismissed altogether.
When appealing your workers’ compensation denial, always be sure you gather as much documentation as possible to support your injury claims. This should include medical records indicating the extent of your injuries, time sheets that show you were indeed at work when the injury took place, witness statements indicating you did nothing negligent or careless that caused your injury, and anything else you deem to be relevant. Once you have this documentation, consult with your workers’ compensation attorney to discuss your next step. By letting your lawyer examine the evidence you have supporting your claim, a legal strategy can then be planned for your appeal.
Meet with Your Employer
In some instances where a workers’ compensation claim is denied, it is simply the result of an error involving paperwork or other matters. Therefore, it may be possible you can meet with your employer and have the situation resolved. By reexamining paperwork and other information, an employer may discover a clerical error or misunderstanding of the events surrounding your injury. While this can happen from time to time, in most cases these meetings fail to produce substantial results.
Prepare for the Hearing
Once your appeal is filed, meet with your attorney to make plans for your hearing. This is usually led by an administrative law judge, and the hearing is often conducted through your state’s labor board or workers’ compensation board. Since it will be crucial you have everything in order prior to this hearing, always make sure you and your attorney know exactly how you plan to approach the hearing. Since you will have your lawyer with you during the hearing, you will be able to ask questions and get guidance on certain matters throughout the hearing.
Since you may need to exhaust several levels of appeals prior to gaining your workers’ compensation, be prepared to exercise a great deal of patience along the way. However, by not giving up and relying on the expertise of a lawyer who handles these cases on a regular basis and has a track record of success, chances are you will come out on the winning end eventually.