Be sure to keep your employer informed as to your return to work status. Give your employer a copy of all work status reports from your doctor. If you fail to do so, your employer may attempt to discipline you, including possible termination.

Get a referral for another doctor at the time of your examination. The employer’s liability to pay for medical services is limited to (1) all medical, surgical and hospital services provided by the physician, surgeon or hospital initially chosen by the employee or any subsequent medical provider(s) in the chain of referrals from the original provider and (2) any such services provided by an employee’s second choice of such a medical provider or any subsequent medical provider(s) in the chain of referrals from the second choice medical provider. Thereafter, the employer shall select the provider. Therefore, if you wish to see a different doctor, ask for a referral from your treating doctor so the new doctor is within the chain of referral.

Inform your employer of any concurrent employment you have. This needs to be done before any injury. The wages from all employers will then be used to calculate the rate at which your benefits will be paid.

Remember that the nurse case manager is not your friend. This person works for the employer and his/her job is to get you back to work as fast as possible while minimizing the employer’s cost.

Save all check stubs. Workers’ compensation benefits are based upon what an injured worker earned in the 52-week period prior to the date of accident. The more money earned, the more benefits received. Without the check stubs, we have to rely entirely upon the employer’s statement of earnings.

Choose your own doctor and see him/her immediately. Inform the doctor that the injury happened at work. Get him/her to write it down. Sometimes accident reports become lost. In addition, receiving medical treatment shows your injury was severe enough to warrant treatment.

Always report accidents as soon as possible after they happen and if possible fill out an accident report. When you are filling out the report, try to be broad and general in describing the accident rather than specific. The more specific the report, the more likely the injured worker will forget something that may be material.

Accidents are not necessarily due to a specific incident. Accidents can also include repetitive trauma that occurs over time. Often times, when a worker is injured through repetitive trauma, he/she is asked whether the injury is due to an accident and thinking that refers to a specific event answers “No”.

If you are hurt, do not just try to work off the pain. As soon as possible, go to either the hospital or to your primary care physician and get all of your symptoms documented.

So long as the worker did not intentionally cause an accident, he/she is still entitled to workers’ compensation benefits. It does not matter if the injured worker caused the accident, was careless or even grossly negligent.

When in doubt, call a lawyer. Calling a lawyer does not cost anything. Proceeding unadvised may cost you your right to receive workers’ compensation benefits and jeopardize your livelihood. Don’t sign anything until your lawyer reviews it.

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