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Mind the do's and don'ts when pursuing workers' comp benefits

When you start working with a company, your employer will likely inform you about the workers' compensation insurance coverage that will pay for medical expenses if you should suffer an on-the-job injury. However, you may not realize that pursuing benefits claims can be a challenging process that may be simplified by the support and guidance of a skilled legal representative.

Although workers' compensation coverage is available for workers nationwide, there may be some specific state laws for employees in Kentucky. Some workplace accident victims expect the claims process to be simple, and they only seek legal assistance once their claims are denied or if they have problems with receiving the benefits to which they are entitled.

How can you improve the odds of receiving maximum compensation?

Your actions immediately after an incident and even while you recover may play a major role in the workers' compensation benefits you receive. Certain steps are important to take, but it is equally important to avoid some actions.

Here is what you should do:

  • Get the necessary medical treatment -- If your type of injury requires immediate medical treatment, this will be your first step.
  • Inform your employer -- File a written report immediately. Upon receipt, your employer must provide the necessary claim forms.
  • File the benefits claim -- Fill out the claim form before having it notarized and filed with the workers' compensation insurance program.
  • Choose your doctor -- You must consult with a company appointed doctor, but after the initial visit, you might be entitled to go to a physician of your choice. However, if you go to the company doctor several times for treatment after suffering a work-related injury, you may not be able to choose another.

To ensure you follow the appropriate steps, it might be wise to utilize the guidance of an experienced workers' compensation attorney who is up to date with all the intricacies of the Kentucky workers' compensation system. He or she can also explain why the following steps may jeopardize your benefits claim.

Here is what NOT to do:

  • Exaggerate your suffering -- Your doctor and your employer will often know if you embellish your injuries. Such conduct may have a negative effect on this and any future benefits claims.
  • Disregard work restrictions -- If your abilities after suffering a workplace injury are temporarily compromised, do not exceed the prescribed limitations because it could cause further injuries. Insurers may even use surveillance to see whether you comply with restrictions outside of work hours.
  • Quit your job -- Your doctor may place you on light duty, which means your boss must provide a job that accommodates your restrictions. If your company has no suitable position for you, you may seek another job, but be careful what you accept because you will need to secure a position that pays a wage that is equal to or higher than what you earned prior to your injury.
  • Settle any medical bills yourself -- The workers' compensation benefits cover all related medical expenses, and you should avoid using your own insurance to settle medical bills – since you would not receive a refund.

Having the support and guidance of an attorney who devotes his or her time to protecting the rights of injured workers from the onset can help provide you with much-needed peace of mind during this trying time. Regardless of whether your claim is for once-off medical treatment or for a long period of absence that brought about a loss of income, a lawyer can navigate claims for full and fair compensation -- even if it involves an appeal.

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