After an on-the-job injury, you need to protect your rights. Workers’ compensation laws exist for this reason. Your company should have already informed you about the resources at your disposal, but for help filing a claim, you may reach out to your human resources department. You may also contact the Offices of the Insurance Commissioner in West Virginia to get started, which can be done online. In addition, you may contact legal experts and specialists in this area for more advice.
Workers’ compensation covers any work-related injuries. Unfortunately, filing a claim isn’t always straightforward.
What to Do Immediately Following an Injury
Report the accident right away. This should be done regardless of the injury or your contribution to the incident, as that information shouldn’t affect the amount you receive (barring extreme circumstances). This is an important step in fully documenting the event as well as preventing future problems. For example, if an uncomfortable work station is causing back problems, it should be reported before the damage becomes debilitating. Failing to report an issue before it becomes severe will likely complicate your claim.
After you announce the problem, consider visiting a doctor for confirmation. This may prove vital to your claim, especially if the side effects aren’t immediately apparent or your condition deteriorates in the future. If you need to work with a West Virginia personal injury lawyer to dispute a compensation decision, this evidence may completely affect the outcome.
Understand Your Rights When Filing
Once you file a claim, and throughout the rest of the process, it’s important to understand your rights. The federal government requires that employers who meet certain minimums (including the total personnel employed as well as the hours they work each week) provide workers’ compensation. Though this is a vital service for these companies, there are some fine points that employees must consider:
- Employees typically can’t sue for damages. Workers’ compensation provides employees with much needed recompense following an accident, but it also protects businesses from certain legal disputes.
- A workers’ condition at the time of the accident may disqualify his or her claim. For example, if a worker falls from a height but was intoxicated or using a controlled substance at the time, the claim will likely be thrown out. Drug screening is often mandatory following a workplace accident to rule out these conditions.
- A company must respond in a timely manner and process claims faithfully. Failing to thoroughly investigate the incident, rejecting the claim unreasonably, or manipulating the terms of a contract to minimize an employee’s payout are considered acts of insurance bad faith. If this happens, workers should reach out for professional assistance.
Reach out for Legal Help If Needed
Like any other insurance claim, companies are looking to pay out as little as possible. All workers’ compensation claims are carefully reviewed, and any excuse for denial will be acted upon. The problem may also be subtler; for example, an insurance representative may offer a worker what seems like a large amount in exchange for waiving certain rights. Or, the amount may not actually account for the long-term damages an employee has incurred. Delayed benefits, misclassifying a disability, and similar problems may also result in a person not receiving the money he or she needs.
If you file a claim and believe it was incorrectly rejected, or you’re struggling to negotiate for a fair amount, a lawyer can walk you through the options at your disposal. These specialists can also help ensure your damages are correctly classified and that all recovery costs are reflected in your award. For more information on eligibility requirements, percentages of disability, and filing a successful workers’ compensation claim in West Virginia, contact the legal team at Tiano O’Dell, PLLC today for a free consultation.