What Is Workers’ Compensation?
If you are injured while working, or if something in your work environment makes you sick, you may have a claim for workers’ compensation benefits. “Workers’ comp,” as it is commonly called, is a type of insurance that may cover medical care and lost wages. You may also be eligible for permanent disability benefits if you are unable to return to work. You must carefully follow your employer’s policies and your state’s procedures for reporting your injury and filing your claim. Filling out forms and documents is part of the process, but you should not sign everything presented to you.
How Do I File a Workers’ Compensation Claim?
In almost every case, you must report your injury or illness to your employer. The deadline for reporting varies by state, but it is usually around 30 days. It’s in your best interest to report as soon as possible. If your illness or injury is an emergency, go to an urgent care clinic or the emergency room. Otherwise, follow your state’s rules for getting medical care.
Once your injury is reported, your employer will give you forms to complete. The paperwork goes to the employer’s insurance carrier and the government office charged with workers’ compensation matters in your state. In some states, this is sufficient to open your claim. You may have to file additional documents if you need to appeal a denial of your application.
In other states, you must file an official claim form with the state workers’ compensation bureau at the start of the process. Check with that office to find out the deadline for filing this document, as it varies by state. The insurance company conducts an investigation that takes anywhere from two to four weeks. You will receive notification of whether the claim is approved or denied. If it’s approved, your benefits will begin. If the application is rejected, you will be advised of your right to appeal.
Should I Refuse to Sign the Medical Authorization Forms?
Often the insurance company will ask an injured worker to sign an authorization allowing it to obtain the employee’s medical records directly from the doctor or hospital. You are not required to sign this form. While you are required to provide your medical records and bills, you can get them on your own and submit them to the insurance company. By handling it in this way, you prevent the insurance company from violating your right to privacy by getting documents unrelated to the current injury or illness.
If an employer or an insurer pressures you or insists that you must sign the forms, see an experienced workers’ compensation attorney, like a workers’ compensation attorney in Milwaukee, WI, right away. Time deadlines are strict, and it’s easy to miss the necessary steps if you wait too long.
Thanks to Hickey & Turim for their insight into medical authorizations for workers’ compensation lawsuits.