Every year, thousands of workers’ compensation claims are filed by employees who are injured or fall ill on the job. Unfortunately, not all of these claims are successful. Not every injured worker is able to obtain the medical care and compensation he needs to recover and continue to provide for his family. Many times, these claims are denied not based on the legitimacy of the injury or illness, but because the employee failed to meet some other requirement of the system. Here, we review some of the most common mistakes injured workers make that can damage their workers’ compensation claims.
Avoid These Seven Common Mistakes to Protect Your Claim for Workers' Compensation Benefits in Iowa
Many workers’ compensation claims are undone by deadlines, paperwork errors, and other missteps that can easily be avoided. To ensure that your claim results in a positive outcome for you and your family, take care to avoid these common mistakes:
- Not reporting your injury within 90 days. Iowa law mandates that injured workers report their injury or illness to their employer within 90 days of the initial event. While the law permits either a verbal or written report, it is best to put it in writing. This creates durable evidence that the injured employee did, in fact, make the employer aware of the injury.
- Not filing a claim within two years. The Workers’ Compensation Act also requires that injured employees file a claim with the commission within two years of the injury or within three years of their last workers’ compensation payment. Failure to do so may negate a claim entirely.
- Missing doctor visits or therapy appointments. Failing to obtain proper medical care undermines the claim that you are too injured or ill to work. Insurance companies and legal officials will likely get the impression that your condition is not as serious as you claim. This can call into question your desire to return to work and damage your claim.
- Only reporting some of your symptoms to your healthcare professional. Any and all symptoms should be discussed with your medical team. Even seemingly minor symptoms may contribute significantly to your overall health picture. Provide those who need to know with all the information to help them decide how to best move forward with both your care and your workers’ compensation claim.
- Not retaining evidence or naming witnesses. Unfortunately, many claims are challenged by employers and insurance companies. If possible, take photos of your injuries and the accident scene if one exists. Write down the names and numbers of any witnesses who can attest to the incident, and write down your own recollection of the event. This can help you remember all the details that affect your condition.
- Posting about your injury or claim on social media. Insurance companies will use any information they can find to undermine your claim and avoid paying the benefits. Even seemingly innocent posts can be used against you in an attempt to reduce the award or settlement amount. It is best to refrain from social media use if you have a pending claim.
- Handling your own workers’ compensation claim. While some workers’ compensation claims are minor and rather straightforward, others are much more complicated and the consequences are serious. The decisions of a workers’ compensation board are legally binding, and it can be difficult to obtain compensation and medical care once your claim has been denied. Additionally, there are rare cases in which the injured worker can pursue legal action against a third party outside the workers’ compensation system.
Your Options After Your Claim Has Been Denied
If your claim has been denied because you’ve made one of these common mistakes or another, you still may have some options available to you. An appeals process does exist, though the requirements are strict. Action should be taken immediately. An experienced attorney can help you review your case and determine if an appeal is likely to be successful for you.
If you or someone you love has suffered a workplace illness or injury, you may be eligible for Iowa workers’ compensation benefits. Call the experienced attorneys at the Pothitakis Law Firm, P.C., at 1-888-329-0243 to learn more about your rights and how to get started on a claim.