Beware of these red flags in your workers comp case!
I’m about to share with you some of the biggest red flags that I’ve seen in my 17 years as a workers comp lawyer.
If you can avoid these, your case will have a better chance of being approved, and you’ll be able to maximize your benefits!
My name is Rex Zachofsky and I became a New York workers compensation lawyer 17 years ago after getting injured on the job. If you’re looking for a lawyer to help you with your claim with New York Workers Compensation Benefits, please give me a call at 212-406-8989 to schedule a free consultation.
One of the biggest mistakes people make with their workers comp claim is waiting too long to file. After sustaining your work-related accident, you have 30 days to notify your employer of your injury, and then 2 years to file your claim under New York law.
But the longer you wait, the weaker your case will look in the eyes of the judge and the insurance company. They’ll be thinking: “If this injury was so serious, why did you wait so long before seeking medical treatment and filing a claim?” And if the judge and insurance company don’t take your claim seriously, chances are you won’t receive the benefits and care you need.
So make sure you notify your employer of your accident and file your claim as early as possible, even if you think you can get by with your injury because you never know when more serious symptoms might pop up.
Number two: Waiting too long to submit notice. In New York you have 30 days to notify your employer of your injury either verbally or in writing.
The law requires you do so in writing unless your employer has actual notice. Actual notice can be them witnessing your injury or you or somebody else telling them about it. Failing to give proper notice can bar you from filing for workers comp entirely, meaning no medical coverage, no cash benefits for your lost time, and no award for permanent injury.
When submitting notice, I recommend doing so in writing if you’re within the thirty days, because it makes it harder for your employer or the insurance company to dispute the timeline. It’s also smart to submit your notice as early as possible so the insurance company can’t argue that you did something else to aggravate your injuries in the meantime.
For more details about the information you should include in your written notice, be sure to watch my other video about the three things you need to qualify for workers compensation.
Red Flag Number Three: Choosing the Wrong Doctor. Believe it or not, your choice of doctor can make or break your workers comp case!
In New York you have the freedom to choose your treating doctor so long as they are coded by the New York Workers Compensation board. But not all doctors are created equal, and making the wrong choice can be a big red flag for your case.
You not only want to choose a doctor who you feel comfortable with, but also one who regularly accepts workers comp claims. This is important because their medical report can literally determine whether your case is approved or denied. And even after you’ve been awarded benefits, they need to be familiar with the forms and processes necessary for you to continue receiving them.
The next red flag I see all the time is poor communication with your treating doctors. If you don’t tell your medical providers how you got injured or that the injury is work-related, it could result in your claim being denied.
Please be specific with your doctors. Tell them exactly how you got hurt and all the body parts that you injured.
It’s also important for you to be clear about the details surrounding your injury and any symptoms you’re experiencing, no matter how small they might be. Insurance companies use medical records to justify denying benefits all the time, and if you try to claim an injury that didn’t show up in your medical records until months after it supposedly happened, it won’t look good for your case.
You also want to share any prior injuries, accidents, or workers compensation claims with your doctor—failure to do so can be considered insurance fraud and even carry criminal penalties, so it’s best to just be honest and upfront with your medical providers.
Another common red flag I see is injured workers skipping their medical appointments. In New York state the insurance company has the right to send you to see their doctor for an evaluation, which we call an IME, or an Independent Medical Exam. If you repeatedly skip these exams it will be brought to the attention of the judge and reflect badly on your case.
It’s also necessary to submit updated medical reports every three months in order to maintain ongoing lost time awards,, which means you need to see your doctor on an ongoing basis. Failure to do so can result in the insurance company suspending your benefits, and once they have been suspended it can take months or even years to get them back.
Keeping your appointments is also important because maintaining a consistent record can protect you in the future. If you start to experience new issues related to your injury, having a well-documented medical history will work in your favor.
Red Flag Number Six: Taking the first offer Most workers compensation claims end in a settlement between the injured worker and the insurance company. And the insurance company has a team of lawyers trained to minimize your settlement value.
They know that most people don’t have legal experience and are likely to accept the first offer they make. But chances are your claim is more valuable than that initial offer, and you might be entitled to more money if you push back and force them to negotiate. This is where having a lawyer can be crucial, because they know how the system works and can negotiate a significantly larger settlement than you would otherwise get on your own.
To learn more about the settlement process and how to get the most money when settling your claim, watch my other video on settling your workers compensation case.
Red Flag Number Seven: Quitting Your Job. Another mistake I see people make when filing their workers comp claim is quitting their job.This also includes formal retirement from your job.
If you quit your job while receiving workers compensation, it won’t affect your right to medical care, but it can seriously jeopardize monetary awards.
For example, if you quit while receiving cash benefits for missing wages, your former employer can then claim that they had “light duty” work available for you, making it seem like you turned down a job that would have accommodated your physical restrictions.
Similarly, if you retire while you're out receiving worker's compensation benefits, the insurance company could argue that you were at retirement age and you would have retired anyway—regardless of whether you're receiving benefits or not. Their insurance company will use any excuse to cut off your cash benefits.
So if you want to quit your job while receiving workers comp benefits, it's important to know the impact of your decision in the context of the worker's compensation law. And if you're unsure, you should contact an attorney with experience before making such a big decision. Which leads me to my next point..
Red flag Number Eight: Probably the biggest red flag in a worker's compensation claim is trying to go it alone. A lot of injured workers think filing a claim is a simple thing and try to do it by themselves, only to have it drag on for months before realizing they’re in over their heads.
But by that point they’ve already made a lot of the mistakes we’ve just discussed, including things that can’t be undone, like providing damaging statements to the insurance company or the judge.
When they do finally reach out to a workers compensation lawyer, it’s often too late for their case to change course. While this is the biggest mistake people make, it’s also the easiest one to avoid, because talking with a lawyer costs nothing, and is completely confidential. Not to mention that working with a lawyer on your claim will get you more money than if you were to go it alone.
So if you or a loved one have been injured on the job here in New York and would like to set up a free consultation with an experienced lawyer who will fight for what you deserve, give me a call at 212-406-8989.
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