If you are injured while at work and while performing work-related duties and your injury is a result of an accident, repetitive motion (carpal tunnel syndrome, etc), exposure to toxic substances then your injury is covered by workers’ compensation insurance.
It is an unfortunate fact that employers and their workers’ compensation insurance companies do not always do the right thing. Sadly they do not do what they should do to help an injured worker. Worse than that and more often than not in our experience employers and their insurance companies will go to great lengths to avoid the extra costs that arise out of your injury.
To make sure your work comp. claim has the best chance of succeeding you must take certain steps as soon as possible:
1) Notify your employer immediately. While the law requires that you report injuries to your employer within two years from the date of the injury, you should in fact notify your employer as soon as possible after you have been injured. You may have a good relationship with your immediate boss or supervisor but beware if he or she says something like “We don’t want the insurance company involved” or I’ll take care of it.” Your employer, upon being notified of the injury, is required to file Employer’s First Report of Injury with the New Hampshire Department of Labor. You may verify whether your employer has reported your injury by contacting the Department of Labor at (603) 271-3176 or (800) 272-4353.
2) File your own Notice of Injury Claim to the Department of Labor. To preserve your right to worker’s compensation benefits, you should also complete a Notice of Accidental Injury or Occupational Disease and either submit it to your employer or if your employer has refused to complete the Employer’s First Report of Injury mail it to the Department of Labor at 95 Pleasant Street, Concord, NH 03301. If you send the Notice to the Department of Labor, make sure you retain a copy for your records and send a copy of it to your employer.
3) Seek immediate medical attention. You have the right to seek medical attention at the insurer’s expense. In New Hampshire, unless your employer has a medical professional for you to see, you can usually go to a doctor of your own choosing. Generally if you have a primary care physician he or she will coordinate care and refer you to appropriate specialists. Even if you feel that you are not injured enough to see a doctor and that you’ll get over it or that it will take care of itself, it can be reassuring to have a doctor or other medical professional examine you to make sure that you are not seriously injured. If you have any doubt whether to see a doctor or not, then you probably should.
4) Provide an accurate medical history of your injury to the doctor when you have the visit. During the examination of your work injury it is extremely important to tell your doctor how the injury happened, when you were injured, where you were injured, and where you have pain and other signs of trauma or injury. It is important not to exaggerate your condition and equally important not to minimize your pain and the symptoms you have. For example, don’t say “Oh, it’s no big deal” or “It’s not important” or “this is nothing”. Such statements can come back to haunt you at your hearing and could play a role in the denial of benefits.
5) Provide an accurate history of any and all past work injuries and accidents to your medical professional at the same time that you have your first visit. As stated in paragraph #4 above it is very important to not exaggerate or minimize these accidents and injuries.
The lawyers at Seaton & Lohr can help you take the steps to ensure that your workers’ compensation claim has every chance of succeeding.