Have you ever heard of this scenario?
You work hard all week at your job. Now, it's finally Friday and you can see the light at the end of the tunnel. Three more hours and you will have some hard-earned free time to relax with your family and friends. Then…BAM! You were lifting the steel lid covering the machine when decades of corrosion finally decided to make its presence known. You push, the lid pushes back and…POP! Goes your shoulder.
Well, this is just great! Now you have a perfectly compensable workers compensation claim but you don't want to spend the next 2 hours doing paperwork and explaining to your boss what happened followed by 3 to 6 hours at the company clinic for what is surely going to wind up being a minor shoulder strain. So what do you decide to do? "I'm gonna keep my mouth shut, finish my shift, go home, ice it down and see how it feels on Monday."
This is the first of potentially a series of mistakes that could ultimately result in the denial of your claim. We have heard this scenario hundreds of times. The problem starts when you realize on Sunday that this shoulder isn't getting better, it's getting worse. So you go in on Monday and you tell the boss what happened last Friday and you ask to be sent to the clinic. Can you guess what the first question your boss asks?
"So, what did you do over the weekend?"
This is where denials are born. The first rule of workers compensation is: Report all of your accidents, no matter what. The second rule of workers compensation is: REPORT ALL OF YOUR ACCIDENTS, NO MATTER WHAT! Even though there is a window of time to report your injuries, simply reporting them within the window does not automatically make a claim compensable. If the employer or insurance carrier can find any hook to hang a denial on, they will take it. Most of the time, they know that such a denial will be futile but, sometimes, it's just enough to get people to give up altogether.
As Kansas City workers compensation attorneys, we know that it is often the very first steps taken in a claim that will determine the ease or difficulty with which it will be handled. As stated above, always report the accident. You can ask not to go to the doctor, to see how it progresses over the weekend or for the next couple of days. But ALWAYS make sure there is a record made on the day of the accident. Also, once you do see a doctor, make sure you tell him or her every body part involved in the accident. We realize that your hyperextended pinkie finger my not be a priority when you are sure every tendon holding your arm to your body is torn. However, just like the passage of the weekend, if you ask for treatment to a body part several weeks after the accident, the first thing the insurance company is going to do is wonder what has happened in the meantime. If there is some record of a complaint to that body part, you are almost certain to receive treatment voluntarily, without a big delay.
So then you ask, "What about a repetitive injury where I really don't know the accident date?" The answer to that question and many others will be posted in the very near future. Or, you can call or email the attorneys at Haight Stang LLC for honest and accurate advice.