Filing and successfully resolving a workers’ compensation claim is a complex and time-consuming process. Our workers’ comp attorneys will help guide you through the process, but for your reference, here are four common mistakes to avoid when pursuing your claim.
Mistake 1: Choosing Not To Hire A Lawyer
It can be tempting not to hire a lawyer to help you file your workers’ compensation claim, especially since workers’ comp matters do not take place in a courtroom. But workers’ compensation is an inherently adversarial process, similar to a personal injury matter outside of the workplace: the insurance company has strong financial incentives to deny your claim when possible or to award the minimum possible compensation.
Besides the insurer, the hearing officer in your case is also not on your side, even though that officer represents a state agency that advocates for injured workers – in theory. But that agency also raises its funds by collecting premiums (money you have already paid) – not by paying claims (the compensation you are now seeking) – so you cannot rely on the hearing officer to aggressively advocate for your interests.
The only person who will stand up specifically and exclusively for your needs is the lawyer whom you hire to assist you.
Mistake 2: Failing To Obtain A Second Opinion
After a work-related injury, you often won’t be able to choose your own doctor. Instead, your employer’s insurance company will assign an “authorized” physician under workers’ compensation law. While these authorized physicians are still licensed doctors who generally adhere to the ethical standards of their profession, it’s worth remembering that their medical assessment is not the final say in your case. This is good news if your doctor fails to see the full gravity of your injury.
As an injured worker, you have a right to a second opinion from another qualified doctor. And in some cases, your attorney may be able to obtain permission for you to be examined by a fully independent doctor with no ties to the insurance company. This may help you build a stronger case for compensation.
Mistake 3: Waiting Too Long To File
Workers in Pennsylvania have three years to file an injury claim – this period is called the “statute of limitations.” This may seem like a very long time at first, but time can fly by and before you know it you will have lost the opportunity to claim financial compensation to which you have a legitimate claim.
We advise starting the filing process as soon as possible. Our attorneys will do most of the work – all you have to do is reach out and schedule a free initial consultation. At our first meeting, we will explain how we can help you. If it feels like a good fit and you decide to hire us, we will keep your case moving even as you are recovering from your injuries, returning to work or addressing other responsibilities.
Mistake 4: Settling Too Quickly
Insurance companies will often offer a settlement pretty early in the process. This may feel like an easy victory, but it is usually a mirage. Insurers understand that injured workers want to resolve their matter, and may need funds quickly since their injury has prevented them from working to earn a living. Thus, insurers offer a lowball settlement offer in order to avoid paying the full compensation to which you might be entitled.
The best way to assess a settlement offer is to work with an experienced attorney whose job is to watch out specifically for your interests.
Workers’ Comp Advice Is Just A Phone Call Away
To learn more about workers’ compensation law and how our firm can help in your case, call Conner Riley Friedman & Weichler to schedule an initial consultation. To make an appointment, call 814-240-3339 or reach us by email. From our office in Erie, we serve clients throughout Northwestern Pennsylvania and beyond.