How Soon After a Worker’s Comp Claim Should You Search for a Job?
If you are in the middle of a workers’ compensation claim, there may come a time when you realize that you cannot return to your job. Many of our clients can no longer perform the job they once had and so they need to begin thinking about what kind of work they can do once they are able. The question we most often hear in this case is whether or not they should be job searching during an active workman’s comp claim.
The answer is yes—absolutely.
Many clients don’t understand the importance of job searching because they think it is counterintuitive. They believe that having work restrictions means no work at all. The thing to remember is that the Workers’ Compensation Commission sees this very differently. They need to see that you are doing everything you can to get back on your feet. It is critical to your case that you start applying for jobs as soon as your attorney advises you to do so. At Oxner + Permar, we routinely recommend looking for at least three to five jobs per week. The goal is to demonstrate to the Commission that you are invested in getting back to work as soon as you are physically able. Your attorney can advise you on what types of jobs you should be looking for and how to best document your search.
If you need to change jobs following a work injury, don’t put your workers’ comp benefits at risk by delaying your search. Be prepared to demonstrate that you will be ready to begin working again as soon as you are physically able.
When Employers Refuse to Acknowledge Your Injury
Often, our clients call us concerned and seeking help because their employer refuses to acknowledge their work injury. They have told their supervisor verbally that they were injured. In some cases, they’ve even let their human resources representative know, but they aren’t getting anywhere. Meanwhile, they aren’t receiving the treatment they need to get better or the pay that they rightfully deserve.
What should you do if you find yourself in this unfortunate position? There ARE steps you can take to get the support you need:
- First, insist on putting your claim of injury in writing. To do this, write an explanation detailing how you were injured. Then send two copies—one to your supervisor and human resources representative.
- The next step is to call either an attorney or the North Carolina Industrial Commission to get a Form 18 filed. The Form 18 is formal notice to all important parties that you are claiming an injury due to your work. This form gets the process started and out of the hands of your employer. It will get the workers’ compensation carrier’s attention and should get your claim moving.
The Workers’ Compensation Act was created to protect employees like you. Don’t let your employer intimidate you out of pursuing your rights. Oxner + Permar attorneys specialize in workers’ comp. We’ve won more than $275m in awards and settlements for our clients—and we are dedicated to helping you get the treatment and pay you deserve.
Have you been injured on the job, and your employer refuses to help? File the Form 18 and get your claim moving forward.
How to Protect Your Rights by Documenting Your Work Injury
Injured workers want to trust that their employer will take care of them, and many can. Unfortunately, some employers don’t have their employees’ best interests in mind or they simply aren’t good at properly managing workers’ comp claims. It’s easy to believe that your employer will take care of you if you are injured, but it’s always important to be safe rather than sorry. To protect your rights, remember to take these important steps:
- Collect as much evidence about your injury as possible. Write down details you might soon forget such as date, time, circumstance, your employer’s response, your doctor’s report, etc. Be sure to take pictures of your injuries as well, even if you think there is a chance you won’t need them.
- Make a formal report of your injury to your supervisor. This report should be delivered both verbally and in writing.
- If there was another party or machine that caused your injury, collect evidence and write a report relating to that as well.
- Ask your attorney asses your report before you submit it. He or she can help you decide whether or not the documentation relating to your claim is helpful. Your attorney might not be involved right when your injury occurs, but taking these additional steps could be extremely important to your case down the road.
The Oxner + Permar team of 25 dedicated, knowledgeable attorneys have won more than $275m in workers’ comp awards and settlements for clients. We are here to ensure that you have someone on your side every step of the way.
The Importance of Respecting Your Work Restrictions
After you sustain a work injury, there are many things to consider. One of which may be, “Do I want to continue working for my employer or is it better for me to seek employment elsewhere?”
Many people choose to continue working for their employer. This is a perfectly valid option as many people are still on good terms with their employer following a work injury or don’t want to deal with the hassle of finding new employment. However, it’s important to make sure that your employer is abiding by your work restrictions.
If your injury is being worsened or continuing to cause you pain, you may not have to continue working under those circumstances. South Carolina and North Carolina law lay out exactly how this kind of situation needs to be handled, and Oxner + Permar has experience dealing with both.
In the event that your employer is not adhering to your work restrictions, it is important that you confront them about it. Be sure to bring a copy of your doctor’s note, which affirms your restrictions. It’s possible that since returning to work, your injury has been causing you pain in ways that you or your doctor did not anticipate. As soon as you notice this is the case, request a return appointment with your doctor. You can address any new or worsened symptoms and adjust your restrictions as needed.
If you have not yet returned to work, be sure to ask your employer for a description of your job requirements to confirm that your work is within your restrictions. If you have any problems with your employer or concerns about the work you are tasked with after returning from a work injury, be sure to speak with an attorney. Oxner + Permar specializes in workers’ compensation and personal injury; we have the experience to ensure that your rights are being protected.
If you’re hurt on the job, make sure that your employer is putting your health and safety first and is following the work restrictions laid out by your doctor.
Getting a Second Opinion
When something as important as your workers’ compensation benefits is based on the evaluation of one doctor, we understand the desire of many of our clients to get a second opinion. It can give you the security and peace of mind to know that you’re receiving workman’s comp benefits and work restrictions that are most appropriate for you and your recovery. So after a work injury, is it possible to receive an evaluation from a second doctor to assess your case?
The good news is: in most cases, yes! In South Carolina everyone is permitted to ask for a second opinion, and in most cases, the Commission finds these requests reasonable. More often than not, insurance companies are willing to work with us to get you a second opinion without the hassle of litigation.
Of course your insurance company is going to want some say in which doctor you choose to give you a second opinion. However, we have experience working with insurance companies to help pick a physician that is agreeable not only to them, but you as well.
When it comes to your care, it’s best to have as many people on your side as possible. Whether it’s your doctors or your attorney, it’s good to know that your worker’s compensation benefits are fair and that your work restrictions are fair. At Oxner + Permar we’re passionate about ensuring that our clients are given the best tools to make their recovery process as easy as possible.
Never hesitate to ask for a second opinion when it comes to your work injury. Insurance companies are often willing to work with us to make sure your health evaluation is as accurate as possible. For more frequently asked questions be sure to visit our FAQ page.