The 8 Most Common Mistakes When Filing Your Compensation Claim

Avoid The Most Common Mistakes When It Comes To Reporting A Work-Related Injury

You’ve been injured in an accident at your job. Should you report it? What can go wrong when you do report it? This page contains the information you need to know to avoid the most common mistakes in reporting a work-related injury or illness.

For a free case evaluation of your workers’ compensation claim, please contact us online or call us toll free at (800) 367-0871 to speak with an experienced workers’ compensation attorney at Kantrovitz & Associates, P.C. We have more than 20 years of experience fighting for the rights of individuals injured in the course of their employment.

Based in Boston, Massachusetts, the workplace injury lawyers at Kantrovitz & Associates, P.C. help injured workers across Massachusetts, including but not limited to Boston, Essex, Middlesex, Norfolk, Suffolk, Plymouth and Merrimack River. We also represent Rhode Island and New Hampshire residents whose injuries occurred in Massachusetts or who were hired in Massachusetts but who were injured out of state.

Mistake No. 1: Failing to report your injury.

The entire process for obtaining workers’ compensation benefits depends on an employer receiving notice of any work-related injury which prevents an employee from earning full wages for five or more calendar days. Once an employer receives such notice, Massachusetts law requires that the employer then give notice of the injury to its workers’ compensation insurer, among others, so that the process for determining benefits eligibility can begin.

If you have suffered a work-related injury, don’t assume that your employer knows about it. Even if you believe your employer learned about your accident or illness, don’t assume that your employer will take proper action on your behalf.

Instead, report your injury fully, accurately, and in writing to your employer as soon as possible after you suffer a workplace mishap or realize that you’ve suffered a work-related illness. This starts the benefits process and is the best way to establish a firm foundation for your right to receive workers’ compensation benefits.

  • Avoid Mistake No. 1. Report your injury or illness in writing to your employer, fully, accurately, and promptly.
Mistake No. 2: Reporting your injury to your doctor instead of your employer.

Of course your physician needs to know about your injury when you arrive at the doctor’s office in need of medical help. But your doctor’s job is to help you get better, not to report your injury to your employer so that you can receive workers’ compensation benefits for which you’re eligible. Do however, be as accurate and detailed as possible with your doctor with respect to all injuries sustained in your work related injury.

  • Avoid Mistake No. 2. To ensure that your employer has proper notice of your injury, report the injury to your employer, not merely your doctor.
Mistake No. 3: Your employer suggests you simply rely on your private health insurance to help with your work-related injury or illness, and you agree.

So you’ve reported your work-related injury or disabling condition to your employer, who suggests that you claim benefits under your private health insurance rather than reporting your injury for purposes of obtaining workers’ compensation benefits. Is your employer right? No!

Workers’ compensation provides a variety of disability benefits, medical expense reimbursements, and other benefits intended to help you when you suffer an injury, illness, or disability due to your work. Many or all of these benefits are not available under your private health insurance. Simply put, your health insurance plan is no substitute for workers’ compensation benefits, and it’s not meant to be.

Your health coverage pays your medical bills, typically while requiring that you pay deductibles or co-payments. It also limits your choice of physicians to approved medical providers and likely imposes requirements and restrictions on where you’re treated and how much treatment you receive.

Workers’ compensation covers all of your reasonable and necessary medical costs without deductibles, co-payments, or pre-established limits on how much those costs can be. It also lets you receive treatment by the physician of your choice, at the same time providing disability benefits while you’re unable to work.

  • Avoid Mistake No. 3. Don’t short-change yourself by relying only on private health insurance rather than seeking the full range of benefits to which you’re entitled under the Massachusetts workers’ compensation laws.
Mistake No. 4: You’re injured, but you think you don’t have a workers’ compensation claim, so you don’t report your injury.

Work-related injuries include more than sudden workplace accidents that result in obvious harm to an employee. A common work-related injury, for instance, is the repetitive stress injury called carpal tunnel syndrome. By its very nature, carpal tunnel syndrome develops gradually due to the long-term harmful effects of repetitive strain on a worker’s tendons and surrounding tissues. If you’re diagnosed with carpal tunnel syndrome, you may be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits under Massachusetts law. In too many cases, employees who suffer from carpal tunnel syndrome don’t think they have a workers’ compensation claim because they can’t point to a particular mishap they consider a job-related “accident.” That’s a mistake, and failing to report carpal tunnel syndrome as a work-related injury means those victims of on-the-job injury are missing out on the workers’ compensation benefits to which they’re entitled.

Another example of a repetitive type injury could be the gradual worsening of back or neck discomfort after months or years of heavy lifting on the job. Many employee’s continue to work in discomfort , as the very nature of their employment is very physical. At some point however, the discomfort may become too great and the employee can no longer function in his or her job. Even though there was no specific identifiable injury or event, an employee with a progressive repetitive back or neck injury may also entitled to compensation benefits.

Likewise, you might be injured away from your normal workplace, perhaps in a traffic accident. If the accident happened while you were on the job in the service of your employer, you may be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits. It would be a serious mistake to decide on your own that because the accident happened when you weren’t in the office or at your normal job site, it wasn’t work-related.

  • Avoid Mistake No. 4. Don’t fail to report your injury because you’ve decided, or simply aren’t sure, that it’s work-related.
Mistake No. 5: You don’t create a complete “history” of your injury by reporting it fully and accurately to your doctor.

It’s important that you be a good historian when reporting an injury to your physician. Include all the important information when describing how you got hurt, so that there is a clear record of what happened and how your injury is related to your job.

It’s all too common for an employee to suffer an on-the-job injury which doesn’t seem serious right away, but which leads to serious medical problems and disability even weeks later. If you haven’t reported your injury to your physician, with good details about the circumstances when you were hurt, it becomes more difficult to prove that your later disability was caused by your earlier injury.

So keep this in mind if you find that you’ve been hurt at work. Even if your injury does not immediately seem serious, ask yourself how someone looking at your medical records would know whether your work-related injury led to a later disability. If your medical records don’t show what happened, they wouldn’t!

  • Avoid Mistake No. 5. Accurately and fully report your work-related injury when seeking treatment from any doctor.
Mistake No. 6: You decide you don’t have a claim to workers’ compensation benefits because you haven’t missed any time at work.

Even where workplace mishaps result in painful injuries, employees often remain at work and take no time off for medical treatment and recuperation. For some, this may be a matter of dedication to their employer, while others might want to avoid using “sick time” or even fear losing their job and livelihood. In all cases, if you’ve suffered an injury at work, it’s important to seek prompt medical attention so that you can regain your best possible health.

But if you haven’t missed work due to a workplace injury, this doesn’t mean that you have no claim to workers’ compensation benefits. Massachusetts workers’ compensation isn’t just about disability benefits for workers whose injuries prevent them from working. Another primary benefit of the workers’ compensation system is coverage of the complete costs of an injured worker’s health care services, that is, expenses of medical treatment. Also included are reimbursement benefits associated with health care services, such as your prescription medicine costs and even mileage and parking reimbursement for your travel to and from medical treatments.

So, for example, if you’ve injured your back at work lifting a box, but you’re still on the job, you’re entitled to seek workers’ compensation benefits for the costs of your medical treatment.

  • Avoid Mistake No. 6. Don’t decide you have no claim for workers’ compensation benefits simply because you haven’t missed any time from work due to a work-related injury.
Mistake No. 7: You don’t think you have a claim for workers’ compensation benefits because you’re suffering from a prior health problem that was made worse by your job.

The fact that you have a prior underlying or pre-existing condition which has been aggravated by a workplace injury or illness does not mean that you have no claim for workers’ compensation benefits. To the contrary, Massachusetts workers’ compensation law provides benefits where a work-related injury worsens a health problem that you already have. That is, the workplace injury “interacts with a pre-existing condition to cause or prolong your disability or a need for treatment.” When that happens, the resulting condition is a valid basis for an award of workers’ compensation benefits, so long as your workplace injury or illness is a major, but not necessarily predominant, cause of your disability or need for treatment.

A good example is an underlying arthritic condition that was made worse by an injury on the job. Another good example is an aggravation or worsening of a prior work related or non-work related injury.

  • Avoid Mistake No. 7. Don’t fail to report a work-related injury simply because it happens to be an aggravation of an underlying pre-existing condition that you already had.
Mistake No. 8: You don’t claim workers’ compensation benefits because, although you’ve been injured at work, you can’t point to a single, specific event that caused your injury.

It’s important to know that a series of events can lead to a workplace injury for which you’re eligible to receive workers’ compensation benefits. That is, your injury doesn’t have to result from just one mishap. Employees who become disabled due to repetitive activities such as lifting are entitled to benefits under the Massachusetts workers’ compensation law. In addition, cumulative trauma/repetitive motion injuries such as carpal tunnel syndrome and tendonitis are covered.

  • Avoid Mistake No. 8. Don’t fail to report a work-related injury if you’ve been injured or made ill at work due to a series of events.
Injured on the Job? Contact Our Workplace Accident Lawyers

The Massachusetts’ workers’ compensation system is designed to ensure that workers who are injured on the job receive paid medical treatment and compensation for lost wages after being fully or partly incapacitated for five days. The experienced workers’ compensation lawyers at Kantrovitz & Associates, P.C., based in Boston, Massachusetts, can help you obtain your full benefits after a workplace accident.

For a free case evaluation of your workers’ compensation claim, please contact us online or call us toll free at (800) 367-0871 to speak with an experienced workers’ compensation attorney at Kantrovitz & Associates, P.C. We have more than 20 years of experience fighting for the rights of individuals injured in the course of their employment.

Our workplace injury lawyers at Kantrovitz & Associates, P.C. help injured workers across Massachusetts, including but not limited to Boston, Essex, Middlesex, Norfolk, Suffolk, Plymouth and Merrimack River. We also represent Rhode Island and New Hampshire residents whose injuries occurred in Massachusetts or who were hired in Massachusetts but who were injured out of state.