Five Ways You Get Screwed In Your Work Injury – And Don’t Even Know It
Because we offer free consultations, we meet with injured workers every week. After twenty-one years of doing this, I am struck by how often these hard-working men and women mistakenly think they are dealing with people who are trying to be fair and honest. The reality is that almost everyone involved with a work related injury has one goal: get the injury done and over with as quickly and cheaply as possible.
So the injured worker waits until they think they “need” an attorney. The problem is workers don’t see how they are being short-changed now. When injured workers tell me they want to wait because they think everything is going okay – I ask them these five questions to show them that they are already being taken advantage of without even knowing it.
1. When you were injured did your employer give a paper that allowed you to choose one of four suggested doctors?
Except in a few rare cases, when you are injured on the job – the employer has to give you the names of four unrelated medical clinics and you get to choose. If your employer does not do this immediately – you have the right to select your own doctor. In workers compensation the doctors are given tremendous power over what kind and amount of benefits you receive. If your employer told you to go to one particular clinic – you got short-changed without even knowing it.
2. Did the adjuster let you know to keep track of your mileage and submit it for reimbursement?
Under Colorado Workers’ Compensation law you are not only entitled to have 100% of your medical care covered – but you are entitled to be reimbursed (currently 53 cents a mile) for mileage to and from medical appointments. This quickly adds up to hundreds – if not thousands – of dollars.
3. Are you told you have to clock out for medical appointments – or worse – told you can’t schedule medical appointments during work hours?
There are so many medical appointments you can have – doctors, specialists, physical therapy, diagnostic, and chiropractic that you will just have appointments during your work. If you have to clock out for your medical appointments – you are entitled to two-thirds of your lost wages. Most employers don’t tell you this and some employers insist that you can’t schedule appointments during the work week. This may be illegal and Administrative Law Judges take a very dim view of employers interfering with medical care.
4. How was your average weekly wage collected?
The adjuster will average your earnings prior to the injury and admit to an Average Weekly Wage (AWW) and pay lost wage and permanent impairment benefits are based on that AWW. At least 70% of the time we calculate a higher AWW than the adjuster. That’s because we dig beyond the numbers. We look at seasonal changes in the wages, bonuses, raises, lost benefits, and in some cases we can get the AWW increased for increased wages after the injury.
5. Have you been told to change doctor or wait longer than ten days for medical care to be approved?
You are treating with Dr. X – but now the insurance carrier tells you that you have to change – or that Dr. X is no longer “authorized” to treat workers’ compensation injuries. You are waiting for an MRI, or therapy, or a surgical consult – but everyone is waiting for it to get authorized … and the weeks drag on. In workers’ compensation the carrier must advise you in writing whenever treatment is denied within seven business days of the request for authorization. The carrier does not have the right to change your doctor.
We help injured workers like you focus on what’s important – healing up and taking care of your body so that you can pursue your dreams and support your family. Don’t trust people whose job it is to pay as little as possible on your claim to do what’s right by you. You need someone in your corner. Get in touch with Denver Workers Compensation attorney for a free consultation on your case.