What do I do if I hurt myself at work?

What do I do if I hurt myself at work?

Workplace injuries are extremely common, so, first of all, don’t feel you’re “odd” or a “special case.” Employers know that workplace injuries are a business risk. That’s why most employers carry workers’ compensation insurance. Workers’ compensation insurance works pretty much the same way as other insurance policies. The employer, whether it’s a big corporation or a sole proprietorship, pays a premium to the insurance carrier, so that when one of his, or its, employees are injured, the employer is not out of pocket for the damages.

So what’s the catch? Insurance companies only pay “compensable” claims. Just because you think you have a compensable claim does not mean the insurance company will automatically start cutting you checks. There are many hurdles standing between you and your benefits.

This where a personal injury attorney comes in. A knowledgeable and experienced lawyer will help you navigate your claim through the legal and factual obstacle course that sinks many otherwise valid claims.

What do I have to do to get my workers’ compensation benefits?

The first thing you need to do when you are hurt at work is to report it to your immediate supervisor. This is called giving your employer “notice” of your injury. If you don’t carry anything else away from this blog, remember this: tell your employer how you were injured, where the accident happened, what body part or parts are injured, when you were injured, and then make sure you ask to see a doctor.

Upon receiving notice, your employer or his representative should fill out an incident report narrating the facts of your case. Make sure you get a copy of this report. Make several copies of it. After this, your employer may refer to an in-house doctor. In-house doctors are becoming more and more common in big corporations. If your employer has no in-house physician, he will probably refer you to a private group that customarily deals with that employer — usually what I call a “doc-in-a-box.” These are private emergency medical clinics. Some are quite good, others provide questionable services. In any event, if your employer refers you to a doctor, you must go. Don’t worry, you have the right to demand alternate care and get a second opinion. But at this stage, you need to give your employer the chance to provide medical treatment. Failing to go to your employer’s doctor could seriously jeopardize your case.

When you meet with your employee’s doctor, say as little as possible about the facts and circumstances of your case as anything you say can be used against you later on. But the same token, be careful filling out the doctor’s intake form. Again, you are essentially making a statement and any inconsistencies with what you report and what you later testify to will damage your credibility, and it’s not an overstatement to say that credibility is the single most important factor to consider in any litigation.

Should I go to my family doctor?

If your employer fails to refer you to “the company doctor,” by all means make an appointment to see your family physician. Also, this is another good time to call an experienced personal injury lawyer. Please feel free to call our firm at any time, day or night. If we are not available, leave a message with our answering service. We will get back to you as soon as possible.

Be careful what you say to your family doctor. Although she is “on your side”, she may report damaging statements you make, not knowing any better because she is not a lawyer. If you don’t have a family doctor, go the emergency room or ask your attorney to refer you to a doctor. He or she should have a network of generalists and specialists ready and willing to examine you, treat you, and if necessary, provide a medical opinion as to the seriousness of your injury, what treatment is necessary, and what, if any, future care you may need.

What if I am unable to return to work?

If your injury results in your being unable to return to work at full duty in a full duty, the insurance carrier should begin paying you what’s called “temporary total disability,” i.e., your weekly checks, as long as the authorized physician has written a note excusing you from work because of the nature of your injury. Make a copy of this and make sure it gets to your employer who should forward it to the carrier. If you are not receiving checks, call your lawyer and she should get on the phone with the carrier and raise a ruckus. Believe me, unless you are independently wealthy, you’ll need that money. Deliver a copy of the doctor’s excuse to your attorney as well as all other documentation pertaining to your case. Remember, giving your lawyer too much information is better than giving him too little.

There are many other pitfalls to avoid when trying to get your benefits. If you’ve been hurt at work, call us immediately at 864.233.2000 in Greenville and 591.1114 in a Spartanburg. We’ll safeguard the integrity of your case and get you the money you need and deserve.

Good luck and be careful out there. Remember, you are not alone. We’re only a phone call away.

Why do I need a lawyer?

Why do I need a lawyer?

If my case is compensable, why do I need a lawyer?

Achieving compensability for your cases is only half the battle.

Take good note: insurance accompanies do not have your interests at heart. Period. Insurance companies are corporations, usually public, and their allegiance lies exclusively with the stock price of their company. Look at it this way: one does not run a profitable insurance company by paying claims.

Employers and insurance companies may like you to think they are paternal, willing and always ready to take care of you if you are a good and loyal worker. Unfortunately, in most cases, this is not true. You are replaceable, and they know it. And if it comes down to you or them, they will do whatever it takes to protect themselves. Of course, there are exceptions.

Given this reality, do not assume that just because you are receiving temporary compensation that the workers’ compensation insurance company will maximize your disability payment or make good on your other damages. To the contrary, it will usually hire attorneys to make sure it pays you the minimum.

This is why you need an experienced, aggressive lawyer fighting for your interests throughout the life of your claim. This is what the Attorney Offices of Thomas Gagne, P.A. promises you – an ally sincerely looking out for you.

Can I sue my employer for negligence?

Can I sue my employer for negligence?

Clients injured at work often ask me: in addition to my workers’ compensation benefits, may I sue my employer for negligence?

The answer, in most cases, is no.

Why? Because most state have adopted what is called “the exclusivity rule.”

This rule limits an injured employee’s legal recourse solely to workers’ compensation. The fact that the employer may have been negligent is irrelevant. The justification for this rule lies deeply within the genesis of workers’ compensation law.

Before the advent of workers’ compensation, pursuing a negligence claim against the employer was the only remedy available to employees who suffered on the job injuries. This state of affairs resulted in uncertain relief for the employee (because she had to prove negligence) and, in most cases , intolerable expense for the employer.

Workers’ compensation systems killed two birds with one stone. The new law abolished the need to prove negligence thus making it “easier” for the injured employee to garner benefits, and it reduced employers’ legal expenses by streamlining the adjudicatory process. Among other things, evidentiary requirements were relaxed, and juries were replaced by commissioners.

The new law, which made its debut early in the twentieth century, also served as a partial palliative to the general labor unrest indicative of industrial and labor relations at the time.

What does it mean that my case is noncompensable?

What does it mean that my case is noncompensable?

Noncompensability means that your workers’ compensation case has not been “accepted” by your employer’s workers’ compensation insurance carrier, for one or more reasons. There are several legal and factual defenses an insurance company might raise to block your benefits. On the other hand, sometimes a carrier will automatically deny your claim “pending investigation”, which means that the carrier may accept your claim in the future if facts turn up that are beneficial to your case.

This is one of the reasons why an injured employee needs the assistance of a competent attorney well versed in workers’ compensation law and practice. Just because a carrier raises a defense does not mean that’s the end of the matter. There are many ways to defeat defenses, too many to go into here, and they all depends on a careful analysis of the totality of the facts and circumstances of your case. Remember, there is no magic bullet. All legal cases are different in the detail.