Every year, thousands of people in Mississippi are injured on the job. Your employer is going to have your back and take care of you, right? The answer to that question is –not likely. For employers and insurance companies, the name of the game is risk reduction/avoidance. Money is their first priority. Your employer might try to have you sign forms releasing your rights or send you to a company doctor. You don’t have to waive your rights or see the doctor they want you to. Your best move when you get hurt on the job is to consult a lawyer that knows the ins and outs of workers’ compensation law. The sooner the better. However, there are common mistakes that many injured workers make that can be avoided.
1. Failing to report your injury to your employer:
It is crucial to put your employer on notice of your injury as soon after it happens as possible. Tell your supervisor or manager. Fill out an incident report if needed. Make a mental note of the witnesses who saw you get hurt. The farther away from your injury that you report it, the easier it will be for the insurance carrier to deny your claim.
2. Letting your employer pressure you into not filing a claim:
Businesses in Mississippi with 5 or more employees are required to have workers’ compensation insurance coverage. When a worker is injured in the course and scope of their employment, that injury should be covered under the workers’ compensation insurance policy. Don’t let your employer pressure you into not filing a workers’ compensation claim. A good employer who actually cares about you will want you to have a claim open in case your injury is or gets serious so that you have a mechanism to get the treatment you need and get better. Employers who try to skirt the law to save a little bit of insurance premium are not employers worth working for, let alone waiving rights to make a
3. Not choosing your own physician:
Mississippi law gives an injured worker the right to select the physician that they want to treat with for their injuries. Many employers will try to steer you towards a doctor of their choosing. You have the right under the law to choose who provides your care. You do not have to go to any doctor that your employer chooses, nor do you have to sign a form agreeing to your employer’s choice of doctor. The employers are often quite sophisticated, and they know the magic doctors who will get you in and get you out at a low cost to the employer and their insurance company and at a big sacrifice for your health and welfare. Don’t be fooled by going to a doctor with financial incentive from an employer sending them cases in volume. Go to a doctor you trust to be honest.
4. Waiting too long to seek medical treatment:
The best practice is to seek medical treatment immediately after you are injured and to consistently treat after that. Just like waiting to report your injury to your employer, the farther away from your injury that you wait to get treatment, the easier it will be for the insurance carrier to deny your treatment.
5. Missing appointments and/or turning down medical treatment:
It is important to attend medical appointments as scheduled unless it is unavoidable. Failure to attend appointments could result in you being discharged from that doctor’s care before you are medically ready. This, in turn, can complicate and delay the progress of your treatment. It is also important to thoughtfully consider any recommended treatment by a doctor before declining it. If you have a lawyer, talk to them. It is also equally as important that you have a candid conversation with your doctor about your fears or concerns regarding any invasive treatment and what options you have.
6. Treating outside your chain of physicians:
Your choice of physician for your work injury refers you to a specialist. That specialist refers you for an MRI and then physical therapy. Maybe that specialist refers you to a surgeon. This line of referral is known in workers’ compensation cases as the “chain of physicians.” If you go seek treatment on your own outside of that chain of physicians, you are responsible for those bills – not the workers’ compensation insurance carrier. You also may not be able to introduce opinions from doctors outside your chain to help your case when an issue arises.
7. Trusting adjusters and nurse case managers:
The adjuster might be friendly and try to push your case along. The nurse case manager might try to attend your appointments and talk to your doctors. Neither of these people work for you – they work for the insurance company and their primary concern is the insurance company’s bottom line. The easiest way to avoid the pitfalls of dealing with adjusters and nurse case managers is to hire an attorney. Once a letter of representation is sent, an adjuster must go through your attorney. Once a petition to controvert is filed, that nurse case manager is no longer allowed to be directly involved without you and your attorney’s permission. Many Nurse Case Managers have been known to go behind
your back and have private conversation with your doctor about your case without you there. They often push for early release back to work. It may save the company money, but it is at great sacrifice to your health. The best way to avoid this is to have a Petition to controvert filed by a lawyer so they won’t be allowed to do this.
8. Asking your doctor to return you to work before you are medically ready:
A lot of injured workers are eager to get back to work. It is important that if your doctor thinks you need to be off work or thinks you are physically restricted from performing your normal job duties, you listen to that doctor. Asking to be returned to work before you are ready puts you at higher risk for re-injury and can cause unnecessary delay in your treatment.
The most important thing that you can do to protect your rights, is talk to an attorney. If you or a loved one has any questions regarding an injury sustained at work, contact the Personal Injury Law Office of Chhabra & Gibbs, P.A. at 601-948-8005. We offer a Free confidential consultation and there is no obligation.