If you've been injured on the job, you may be asking, “do I need to know how to protect my workers' compensation settlement?” Fortunately, there are things that you can do to protect your workers' compensation claim and maximize your chance of recovering. As of July 24, 2022, the Department of Labor reports that injured Iowa workers have filed more than 5,000 claims with the state’s workers’ compensation commission, and more than half have been denied. Despite having paid out $250 million in medical care and wage replacement benefits, the commission has rejected more than 2,500 claims. For those injured workers and their families, the denials can be difficult. While trying to manage the physical and emotional recovery from an on-the-job illness or injury, these workers are only further distressed by lost income and arriving medical bills. The uncertainty of the future and the threat of financial insecurity can create a difficult situation. Unfortunately, many of those claims were denied for reasons that could have been avoided with a simple amount of knowledge and care. Here, we share our top five tips to help you protect your work injury claim and ensure you can obtain the maximum compensation possible after a job-related illness or injury.
Understanding How to Protect My Workers' Compensation Settlement
Successfully filing a workers’ compensation claim and obtaining benefits does not have to be difficult, but it can feel overwhelming. To help ensure that your rights are protected after a work injury, we have broken down the process and offer these practical steps you can begin to take today:
Seek medical care right away. Both for your health and your injury claim, it is important to seek medical attention right away. Not only does prompt treatment promote faster healing, but it also lends credibility to your claim. If an injury is never treated, employers and insurance companies may take that as a sign that no injury truly exists. If you are unsure of where to seek treatment, ask your employer. They are required by law to provide injured workers with information about available doctors. Additionally, make it clear when seeking care that your injuries were sustained at work.
Report your injury to your employer as soon as possible. Workers in Iowa have 90 days from the date of the injury to report it to an employer. Make that report in writing, either through a company incident report or simply via letter or email, as soon as possible to ensure the deadline is not missed. Benefits for unreported injuries or claims filed outside the state’s statute of limitations will be denied.
Keep copies of everything. Keep a copy of your injury report and any correspondence, notes, or bills related to your work injury. While some items may seem insignificant today, it can be necessary to dispute facts later, and dated written statements offer solid proof.
Avoid discussing your case with others. Insurance companies will look for any way to reduce or deny a work injury claim. You can expect them to call to discuss your accident and injury, but do not share any more information than is necessary. Stick to the basics of the injury—location, date and time, witnesses, body parts involved. Avoid discussing your diagnosis, as it can take time to understand the full scope of your injuries. Additionally, stay away from social media as much as possible.
Don’t take no for an answer. In some cases, employers or insurance companies will attempt to dissuade employees from filing a workers’ compensation claim. They may blame the employee for the injury or dispute your employment status. Workers’ compensation is a no-fault system, and workers can obtain benefits even if their own actions played a role in the injury. Additionally, there are many gray areas in defining employees. Even if a claim has already been denied, there are often ways to pursue compensation.
Additionally, it's important to understand how workers' compensation and social media impact one another. Employers may use photos and content from your social media account to discredit your claim. If you take appropriate steps—such as refraining from using social media while your claim is pending—you can help limit this.
Our Iowa Workers’ Compensation Lawyers Can Help
In addition to following these helpful tips, an experienced Iowa workers' compensation attorney can provide the information, guidance, and representation you need to manage your claim. At Pothitakis Law Firm, our legal team has helped many workers and their families obtain the compensation they needed to move forward successfully after a work injury. We can help ease some burdens during this difficult time by:
Preparing and filing paperwork
Meeting important deadlines
Helping secure care
Negotiating with employers and insurance companies
Compellingly state your case at a hearing (if necessary)
Pursuing an appeal if you have been denied benefits
We'll also help you prepare for your workers' compensation hearing. Call our convenient Iowa office to learn more about who we are, what we do, and how we may be able to help.
For the past 15 years Mr. Pothitakis has focused his practice on Workers Compensation and Personal Injury Cases. The firm has two locations, one being in Burlington, Iowa and the other in Keokuk, Iowa. Mr. Pothitakis works with many area unions and employee organizations to provide advice, assistance, and guidance as it relates to employment issues. Mr. Pothitakis provides free consultations to those with legal questions in the firm's areas of practice. In this initial meeting or conference potential clients are provided advice on their need for assistance and how they need to proceed.
If you have been hurt on the job in Iowa, call our personal injury and workers' compensation law firm.
If you have questions or would like to request a no-obligation consultation with our attorneys, please call us at 319-432-0753 or complete the contact form on this page.