Workers compensation is supposed to help injured workers as they recover and get back into the workforce, but it doesn't always go as planned. Medical bills can go into dispute if an injury problem could have been caused by some preexisting condition, and the payments you receive while recovering may not be enough and could put you into a financial hard spot. Before signing anything, make sure that you're getting the best treatment possible by considering a few fair treatment and negotiation angles during workers compensation claims.
Understand What Workers Compensation Is Supposed To Do
The ultimate goal of workers compensation is to help the injured worker recover in order to return to work with as little personal burden at all. Financial situations shouldn't get worse, and the physical issues should be a reasonable marker in the past that have no effect on your future work. There are some exceptions, but it's intended to put you back into a fair state of productivity.
Two common ways that workers compensation falls short under standard policies are medical complications and financial problems. In some cases, a medical condition can be more complicated than initially thought, such as requiring additional time off work or returning pain/inability to function in certain ways after you've been declared fit for duty. In other cases, you may not be making enough money while taking time off.
If your condition lasts too long or could be considered a disability, you should be routed to a special compensation bracket called Permanent Partial Disability. If your compensation payments aren't enough, you'll need to get assistance for financial hardship. Unfortunately, those situations can be a bit difficult if you don't understand what to ask for and how to provide proper evidence.
Pushing For Better Treatment Than The Standard Situation
Medical complications have to be handled as soon as you notice a problem, and you need to be asking for second opinions outside of the workers compensation system--which means talking to doctors not assigned to you for your compensation claim.
If you wait until the day you no longer have workers compensation coverage, you may have to deal with additional days or weeks in pain and/or hardship while you negotiate. Getting it done while still under an umbrella of protection from the compensation system gives you more mobility and peace of mind, and can make a seamless transition to better compensation a lot easier.
From there, you need to have an attorney on your side no matter what. A workers compensation attorney can help you think through many parts of the compensation system and what you may be owed, but if it gets to the point of proving a disability that could permanently affect your way of life, leave nothing to chance.
Payment issues can be harder to prove. Every state is different, but you'll receive a certain percentage of your paycheck while on workers compensation instead of the whole payment during your time away from work.
If a lower payment will put you and/or your family into a financial hardship, or if you're already in a financial hardship, this isn't the time to tighten your belt and ask others to sacrifice alongside you. The compensation system can provide higher amount of payment to help you bridge those financial gaps, and can help you sign up for social services while you recover.
Contact a workers compensation attorney to discuss your injury, claim, and any hardships you encounter beyond pain associated with your injury.