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Most injured workers seeking an attorney’s help on their workers’ compensation claim have never hired an attorney before. This post gives a brief overview of how you can prepare for your first meeting with your attorney after you have been hurt at work.
The most important part of that first meeting takes place before you ever set foot in the attorney’s office. For your attorney, the goal of the first meeting is to gain an accurate understanding of the facts surrounding your injury. This is so the attorney can assess how the law will be applied to your case. In order for the attorney to make an accurate assessment, you have to be prepared to Continue reading →
If you are hurt at work make sure to follow these guidelines to protect your rights
Today’s post comes from guest author Todd Jones from Pasternack Tilker Ziegler Walsh Stanton & Romano.
When you’re injured at work in New York, people often ask what they should do immediately following the accident. There are several basic things you should do to protect your rights under New York State Workers’ Compensation Law.
Report the accident to your supervisor/employer as soon as is possible. Under NYS law you have 30 days to give your employer notice of the accident. Report the injury to your supervisor and be clear about how it happened and that it happened at work.
Follow up with your employer to ensure they have prepared an accident report. If a report is not being prepared, you should write a letter stating the circumstance of the accident for your Supervisor. If you can, send your letter by email or have your supervisor sign a note that acknowledges receipt. A paper trail is always helpful.
When you receive a copy of the accident report, or any paperwork from your employer or its insurance carrier, be sure to make copies for yourself. Keeping your own file is always helpful in the long run. You should bring that file with you to hearings to show your attorney and the judge, if needed.
If you are a member of a union, you should tell your shop steward of the injury as well. Be sure that you report to the shop steward who you gave notice to, when you gave it, and ask what your union policy is on Workers’ Compensation injuries.
Keep a log of<!–more–> all significant contacts you make along the way. Note your doctor visits, conversations in adjusters, and any documents received.
If you are out of work because of your injury, you need to see your doctor every 45-90 days (depending on your injury). The reports that your doctor submits to the NYS Workers’ Compensation Board is the evidence required to support your continuing disability. Without those reports your treatment may be obstructed and any indemnity payments you’re receiving may be stopped.
When you visit the doctor remember to be clear and discuss in detail the circumstances of your injury. Everything from what job you do, to where you were hurt, to the mechanics of the injury (For example: Did you fall backwards? Sideways? Land on your knees? Your back? Some other way?)
If your doctor says you can return to work in a lighter capacity, be sure to get a letter that lays out what physical restrictions you have. You should keep a copy for yourself and provide copies to your employer.
Do not be afraid to follow up with your doctors to get copies of the medical reports they are submitting to the Board. Up to date medical evidence is an essential component of a workers’ compensation claim. You do not want to leave your fate to the efficiency and prowess of others to prepare, scan, and upload documents to State computer programs.
If your doctor tells you that treatment has been denied, discuss the need for treatment with your doctor and ask if he/she needs you to sign a “variance” request to affirm you would like to bring the issue to the Board.
Sometimes the “smell test” is most applicable. If something doesn’t smell right don’t be afraid to consult your attorney (or retain one if you haven’t already). There are a number of moving parts in these cases — doctors, adjusters, independent medical consultants, physical therapists, judges, your lawyers, insurance company lawyers — that asking questions and doing your best to get a firm grasps on the status of your claim is only going to help you as you recover from your injury.
One of the most important parts of any case is the history of your injury that you provide to your doctor when you first see him or her.
If you were hurt during a specific incident, make sure to tell your doctor how you were hurt, when you were hurt, where the injury took place, and who else was present. Tell him about the pain and symptoms that you have been experiencing. Also be sure to describe in detail all of the body parts that you have injured. Even if one injury hurts more than the others, make sure to tell your doctor about every single injury.
If you have been hurt by repetitive-work activities, be specific about the number of movements that you make. For instance, tell your doctor about the number of times you lift or grip things in an hour, day, or week.
If you have been hurt by exposure at work, whether it is to a hot, humid environment, chemicals, or any other environmental condition, be specific when you tell your doctor about the pain and symptoms that you have due to that exposure.
If you leave work and become better, and then return to work and experience an increase in your symptoms, be specific when you tell your doctor about any changes in your condition.
It is important to be accurate and honest the first time that you seek treatment with your doctor, for both your health and your workers’ compensation claim.
He had fallen from a ladder about 15 feet and landed squarely on his hands and broke both arms. No one was holding the base of the ladder and the ladder was more than 15 years old. Wires and metal bars were now holding his bones in place, and workers’ compensation benefits were holding him financially in place. However, since he was only making $11 dollars an hour his weekly compensation benefits were small. As you probably know, the Workers’ Compensation Act does not provide money for pain and suffering, or lost income from other jobs (think about the man who takes on two jobs to maintain a higher standard of living for his family; if he is hurt while working at one job, he is only paid for the income loss at that job, not both).
The employer has a duty to train and teach its employees how to use a ladder. Many employees (particularly young ones) have no idea how dangerous ladders can be: they assume the ladder will hold the load and will be secure when placed in position, and that it is free of defects, no matter how old. OSHA has a list of safety considerations and these tips can be found at the Department of Labor’s web page (click here for a PDF version).
Click through for a graphic video of a ladder accident published by prevent-it.ca, a website run by the Province of Ontario (Canada)’s Ministry of Labor. Be warned that this mock-up video is a public service announcement intended to teach safety. It is scary and not for the faint of heart.
The next time you pull out a ladder at work or at home, think about these warnings and use proper safety techniques to avoid injury.
Injured workers call me all the time asking me what they need to do to make sure they protect their legal rights. If you are hurt on the job, whether it is due to an acute traumatic injury (like cutting yourself on a saw), cumulative-trauma injury (like carpal-tunnel syndrome) or some other job-related injury, there are several basic things you should do. If you do not do any of the things on the list below, you may lose your rights under Iowa’s workers’ compensation law.
Although there may be rare exceptions to this list, following it will leave you reasonably secure that your rights are protected:
Report the injury. By “injury,” I mean almost any condition including but not limited to (a) an acute traumatic injury, (b) a cumulative-trauma injury, or (c) a disease or a hearing loss. You should report the injury to your supervisor or company nurse (for clarity we’ll just call these people your Supervisor from here on out), making clear your injury was caused by work. Under Iowa law, you need to make the report within 90 days of the date of your injury.
Make sure your Supervisor prepares a company accident report. If your Supervisor won’t prepare the report, Continue reading →