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Top 3 things you should know about workers' comp

Getting injured on the job can be a stressful, overwhelming experience. Dealing with possible surgeries, healing and taking time to recover so that you can return to work can be hampered by the stress of dealing with workers' compensation claims, seemingly endless paperwork and phone calls and the headache of dealing with insurance companies. Needless to say, getting hurt on the job can send your life into a whirlwind of chaos.

Injuries can hit all kinds of workers, from aerospace engineers to construction workers , truck drivers, supermarket employees and automotive factory workers. Wherever you work, here are three things to keep in mind if you are ever faced with a job injury.

Seek medical treatment immediately after your injury

When you are injured on the job, do not fear medical treatment is too expensive or unaffordable - your employer's workers' compensation insurance should pay for all your medical treatment and related follow-ups. You do not need to worry about paying for any of it yourself. State law mandates all employers to carry workers' compensation insurance coverage for employees.

It is important, for non-emergency care, to find out if your employer or the insurer has created a medical provider network (MPN) or has a contract with a health care organization (HCO) to see patients who are injured workers. Under California law, you must choose a doctor within this group if that is the case. The exception is if your employer or insurer sends you to a doctor that provides inadequate treatment or refuses care --- you can go to the physician of your choice in that case.

Regardless of whether your employer or insurer has an MPN or HCO, if you already have a designated physician or medical group you go to for things unrelated to your work injury, you are allowed to see your personal physician or regular medical group immediately after you are injured.

In this case, it may be wise to see your regular physician if you trust him or her, to make sure you have a doctor that you trust, and not one that will be influenced by your employer or by the workers' compensation insurance company. You need a doctor that will be honest about evaluating your injuries, taking care with your recovery, and one that will not be pressured to send you back to work before you are fully healed, well and able to work. Getting approval to return to work before your body is ready or healed could cause you to re-injure yourself and start over again.

Waiting to get medical care could hurt your claim

Some people put off seeking medical treatment after their injury out of fear they may be forced to pay out of pocket. Be assured the payment will not be your responsibility. Avoid waiting to get medical care as insurance companies might think this is a sign you weren't as badly hurt as you are, since you did not "need" medical treatment right away.

You do not have to pay out-of-pocket to hire a lawyer to help you

Lawyers, including us at Dixon & Daley, LLP, handle workers' compensation claims on a contingency basis. This means they do not charge you for their time or work, but instead, take a percentage of money awarded to you through a settlement, lawsuit or other arrangement. If you do not get awarded any money, they do not charge you for the time they spent working on the case.

Hiring a lawyer could help ease the burdensome paperwork for the claim. Workers' Compensation is a claims process that involves a lot of time filling out documents and making phone calls --- something that might be difficult to do on your own if you are recovering from a workplace injury or accident. Many people seek the help of an attorney, and a fair settlement is possible to help ease the financial burden of being out of work during recovery.

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