If you're filing your first claim for an injury at work, it's important to understand exactly what the process will entail. For example, just because you file a claim doesn't automatically qualify you for benefits. You'll still have to have your claim evaluated and approved. Here's a look at a few things that you should understand about worker's compensation claims before you file.
Your Claim Might Be Denied
Some people mistakenly believe that submitting the claim means automatic approval. The fact is, your employer's insurance company can deny a claim for many reasons. Here are a few common reasons for denial.
You weren't really injured. Sometimes, employers will deny a claim and state that the injury didn't actually happen. If this happens to you, a worker's compensation attorney can appeal the denial, especially if you have medical records to support your claims.
It didn't happen at work. If your employer has any reason to suspect that the injury didn't actually happen at work, you may be denied your claim. Make sure that you have clear documentation of exactly how and where the injury happened.
You Might Be Able to Choose Arbitration
Choosing arbitration gives you the chance to have your side of the case heard without having to worry about actually appearing in court. Instead, a neutral third party will be assigned to meet with both you and your employer and their insurance company. This arbitrator will hear all of the evidence and then make a determination.
In some states, arbitration is binding. That means that whatever determination the arbitrator comes up with must be followed as though it were an order from a judge. In other states, it's solely a recommendation and you can still go to court. Your worker's compensation attorney can tell you what the arbitration laws are in your state so that you know what to expect.
You Don't Have To Go To Court
Even if you try arbitration in a state where it's not binding, you don't have to go to court to reach a final determination. Your attorney can negotiate the claim directly with the insurance company and reach a settlement. In those cases, you'll receive the agreed-upon amount without having to actually present a case in court. Sometimes, it's faster to settle out of court than to wait for the local courts to hear the case.
When a worker's compensation claim is contested by your employer, it can take time to settle. The best way to avoid that risk is by ensuring that you have all of the supporting documentation possible when you file the claim. Talk with an attorney like those at John Mullen & Co. from the start for the best chance of success.