To date this year, injured Iowa workers have filed more than 5,000 claims with the state’s workers’ compensation commission, and more than half have been denied. Despite having paid out $250 million in medical care and wage replacement benefits, the commission has rejected more than 2,500 claims. For those injured workers and their families, the denials can be devastating. While trying to manage the physical and emotional recovery from an on-the-job illness or injury, these workers are only further distressed by lost income and arriving medical bills. The uncertainty of the future and the threat of financial insecurity can create a difficult situation.
Even more, unfortunately, many of those claims were denied for reasons that could have been avoided with a simple amount of knowledge and care. Here, we share our top five tips to help you protect your work injury claim and ensure you are able to obtain the maximum compensation possible after a job-related illness or injury.
Obtain Maximum Compensation for Your Claim
Successfully filing a workers’ compensation claim and obtaining benefits does not have to be difficult, but it can feel overwhelming. To help ensure that your rights are protected after a work injury, we have broken down the process and offer these practical steps you can begin to take today:
- Seek medical care right away. Both for your health and your injury claim, it is important to seek medical attention right away. Not only does prompt treatment promote faster healing, but it also lends credibility to your claim. If an injury is never treated, employers and insurance companies may take that as a sign that no injury truly exists. If you are unsure of where to seek treatment, ask your employer. They are required by law to provide injured workers with information about available doctors. Additionally, make it clear when seeking care that your injuries were sustained at work.
- Report your injury to your employer as soon as possible. Workers in Iowa have 90 days from the date of the injury to report it to an employer. Make that report in writing, either through a company incident report or simply via letter or email as soon as possible to ensure the deadline is not missed. Benefits for unreported injuries or claims filed outside the state’s statute of limitations will be denied.
- Keep copies of everything. Keep a copy of your injury report and any correspondence, notes, or bills related to your work injury. While some items may seem insignificant today, it can be necessary to dispute facts later, and dated written statements offer solid proof.
- Avoid discussing your case with others. Insurance companies will look for any way to reduce or deny a work injury claim. You can expect them to call to discuss your accident and injury, but do not share any more information than is necessary. Stick to the basics of the injury—location, date and time, witnesses, body parts involved. Avoid discussing your diagnosis, as it can take time to understand the full scope of your injuries. Additionally, stay away from social media as much as possible.
- Don’t take no for an answer. In some cases, employers or insurance companies will attempt to dissuade employees from filing a workers’ compensation claim. They may blame the employee for the injury or dispute your employment status. Workers’ compensation is a no-fault system, and workers can obtain benefits even if their own actions played a role in the injury. Additionally, there are many gray areas in defining employees. Even if a claim has already been denied, there are often ways to pursue compensation.
Our Iowa Workers’ Compensation Lawyers Can Help
In addition to following these helpful tips, an experienced Iowa workers’ compensation attorney can provide the information, guidance, and representation you need to manage your claim. At Pothitakis Law Firm, our legal team has helped many workers and their families obtain the compensation they needed to move forward successfully after a work injury. We can help ease some of the burdens during this difficult time by:
- Preparing and filing paperwork
- Meeting important deadlines
- Helping secure care
- Negotiating with employers and insurance companies
- Compellingly state your case at a hearing (if necessary)
- Pursuing an appeal if you have been denied benefits
Call our convenient Iowa office to learn more about who we are, what we do, and how we may be able to help.