Pittsburgh, PA 15222
Common Sense Workers’ Compensation
Workers’ Compensation can be very confusing. However, a little common sense can do a lot to help your claim and your attorney at the same time, and minimize potential harm to your case.
Keep a daily log after you are injured. If everyone kept a simple diary or calendar after the initial injury, it would make remembering important dates much easier, and make the presentation of your case much more clear. Imagine having a diary to refer to at hearing, which shows when and where medical treatment was provided and when you reported information to the company; when the insurance carrier contacted you; what modified positions you worked and when, and whether you left work early or were sent home. Although injuries are important, memories fade and people become confused over time. A calendar or diary can be a big help.
Watch what you say and to whom. We’ve all heard a criminal being "read his rights" on television. Many injured employees are treated as "the bad guy" and often no one from the insurance carrier will "warn" you ahead of time as to the effect your words may have!! Discuss your case with your union representative or your attorney first and let them guide you as to what and when to speak to others. If there is a petition filed against you, or you want to file a petition, it is best to get an attorney. Also watch how you discuss matters with the company doctor, whom you must see for the first ninety days-they are reporting directly to the company about you!
Never sign ANYTHING without first consulting an attorney. While your claim is in progress, you may be asked to sign a multitude of forms. Some of these will not harm your case, but you have to know which are which-with one stroke of a pen you can give up valuable rights. Before you sign anything, take time to call your attorney. You can fax or e-mail documents directly to us for review. You never have to sign anything immediately, even if your employer is telling you to sign right away. You have the right to review anything and ask us to review it before signing.
Keep your attorney informed. Have you moved? Changed your phone number? Were you referred to another doctor? Have you had to go to the emergency room for treatment? Have you suffered an automobile accident or other injury after your work-related injury? Work shift changed? Did you have another injury before your work injury you forgot to tell your lawyer about? Your attorney needs this information in order to advise you about your case.
Don’t throw anything away. Were you prescribed a brace, belt, some other equipment or device? Keep copies of this information, prescriptions, bills, and every document that concerns your claim. Get and keep a copy of your injury report and any other forms that you fill out. Keep copies of any documents you get from the insurer, your employer, or the Bureau of Workers’ Compensation. Keep copies of any restrictions or off work slips you get from your doctor. Always keep your paystubs also. It is easier to throw out paperwork that is not needed later than to try to find something you have thrown away.
Be aware! Insurance carriers use surveillance to "show" the Judge or even your doctor that you are "not injured." Be aware that you can be videotaped legally and that these tapes can be harmful to your case. Insurance carriers also send investigators to your house or your neighbors on various pre-texts to "learn" about you. Know that this happens. Be prepared for it.
Do what the doctor tells you to do. Some cases are lost because injured employees do not follow the doctor’s instructions. Failure to obtain reasonable medical care can support an insurance carrier’s Petition. If you have questions about what the doctor recommends, make an appointment for a second opinion, even if you have to pay for it out of your own pocket. You should also call us. We can tell you what effect this could have on your case so you can make informed decisions.
Do not do anything you think that you shouldn’t do!! Many cases are lost because the injured employee did something they knew they shouldn’t do, but did anyway. Sometimes the insurance carrier gets it on tape. Sometimes it is witnessed by co-workers who testify. Sometimes the doctor testifies it was not what was prescribed. Use common sense. If you are not sure, call your lawyer. If there is some nagging doubt in your mind about doing it-DON’T!! An injured employee can be his/her own worst enemy while on workers’ compensation. Don’t blow your own case!!