Injured At The Workplace | Law Offices of Brian J. Mongelluzzo

Mar 4, 2021

On the job injuries happen every day in Connecticut. When a worker is hurt at work, they need to know what to do, and equally as important, what not to do. Any mistakes made immediately following an injury can greatly decrease the potential settlement and/or benefits an employee may receive. Let’s take a look at a checklist for making sure your rights are protected and that you know what needs to be done in the event you are injured on the job.

Report Your Injury as Soon as Possible

The State of Connecticut Workers’ Compensation Program requires that an employee report a work-related injury or illness to his/her employer within 72 hours. For injuries prohibiting the employee from immediately notifying his/her supervisor, the supervisor, on behalf of the injured employee, can directly report the claim.

While some exceptions do exist, it isn’t worth enduring the injury and then having to fight for compensation and defend your delayed report. Given the large number of claims that arise at the workplace, employers are already suspicious of any sort of work-related injury claim. By waiting longer than you should to report that you’ve been hurt, you run the risk of having your injury’s integrity called into question.

Don’t think that reporting your injury immediately will get you fired, or that you might feel better the next day. Even if an accident seems minor, reporting it immediately will help if your condition worsens over time.

Disclose Any Previous Work Injuries Immediately

Even if a previous accident seemed minor or you were hurt and didn’t report the previous injury out of concern for losing your job, any failure to report a past incident could result in losing your compensation completely.

In fact, if an employee does not file a report on previous injuries, it can be considered fraud. In cases of this nature, it’s entirely possible to not only lose your compensation, but you may even face repayment of workers’ compensation already received.

When it comes to filling out medical history forms for a doctor’s visit or speaking with an insurance adjuster or case manager, be completely transparent about any history of being hurt on the job. This obligation exists even when you’re disclosing information regarding a condition that had nothing to do with your previous injury. Your employer’s insurance company will use this information against your claim by saying that your injury was a pre-existing condition, rather than the result of the current work injury. This is referred to as a contributing cause and it is a common objection. However, arguing about a contributing cause and whether it was work related is much easier than fighting workers’ compensation fraud.

Report All Injuries That May Have Been Incurred

For instance, if you fall and hurt your leg, but are also experiencing back pain, make sure to disclose it to your doctor. Failure to report secondary injuries, and then bringing them up later, will look as though you are trying to claim more than you are entitled to. This can also put your claim at risk of being construed as workers’ compensation fraud.

In addition to pain or potential trauma, it’s also important to report any additional symptoms you are experiencing that is related to the work accident. This involves more than just pain, but also: the loss of motor functions, blurry vision, stomach issues, flu-like symptoms, etc. This can be common after certain types of accidents like suffering a head injury or being exposed to toxic chemicals in the workplace. Even if you start to feel improvements in the days following an injury, always be upfront and transparent about your complaints, symptoms, and pain levels with your doctor(s).

Before and during treatment, it’s important to keep a list of questions that you have for your doctor. Ask for clarification on any details that you don’t understand whether it be a diagnosis, treatment plan, or any other information. People often don’t feel as though they have enough time with their doctor. By writing down your questions and concerns ahead of time, you reduce the risk of forgetting to ask about something important.

After your doctor sees you, they will explain your work status This will include a general description, such as: “no work,” “work with restrictions,” or “light duty.” Once your physician tells you that you can return to work, even if only on reduced duty, your employer is obligated to find a position that will suit your restrictions. If they offer you the position, make sure you take it. You are obligated by workers’ compensation regulations to do so.

When Returning to Work

You may have to return to work in a reduced role, perhaps even be at a lower wage, but failure to accept the position offer can be considered a voluntary loss of income.

This means that you can lose possible further compensation and future benefits. To make things worse, your employer can terminate you for ‘your refusal to work.’

If you believe that you won’t be able to perform the duties of the position offered, you are still obligated to make an attempt. Only when you show that the duties of the job are beyond your restrictions can you make a claim that you are unable to follow through with the new position.

If the position offered by your employer pays less than 80% of your pre-injury income, you are entitled to a wage loss benefit by your insurance carrier.

Always Consider Legal Representation

Perhaps the biggest mistake made by work-place injury sufferers is thinking they can handle the case on their own without legal representation. While you are always allowed to represent yourself, it is highly discouraged.

The insurance company, and more than likely your employer, will be consulting with legal representation regarding your case; so, you should be too. Consultations for Workers’ Compensation cases are free, so it is best to consult with an attorney regarding your rights.

Navigating the complex innerworkings of insurance carriers, employer claims, and medical treatments is far more difficult than it may seem. Even if your case appears simple, it’s always better to hire an attorney who has the experience and knowledge to properly represent your interests. What seems like a clear-cut case to you, may have a dozen loopholes that your insurance company can and will find. Contact the Law Offices of Brian J. Mongelluzzo today for a free workers’ compensation case evaluation.

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