You’re not being greedy when you seek to maximize a workers’ compensation settlement. Often, you’ll have to make that money last a long time while you try to either attain disability benefits or get yourself retrained for a new job.
No, you’re being smart when you try to maximize a workers’ compensation settlement.
Here are some basic steps you can take to ensure your settlement is as valuable as possible.
Disclose Pre-Existing Conditions
You may think disclosing pre-existing conditions would help your workers’ compensation claim. It’s natural to be concerned that the insurance company will try to penalize you for those conditions by claiming they have to do with your previous life and not with your employment.
There are two things wrong with this assumption.
First, workers’ compensation allows for compensation for exacerbating pre-existing conditions. If your mild neck pain becomes major back pain on the job, you’ve still been injured on the job.
Second, disclosure shields you from accusations that you’ve committed insurance fraud.
See Your Doctor Every 90 Days
Your doctor won’t always suggest follow-up appointments, but you should make them anyway. A medical report provides evidence of an ongoing disability that is only good for 90 days. If you no longer have evidence of an ongoing disability, the insurance company will suspend your awards.
Returning to the doctor will help you develop a record of your healing progress and will let you know when you’ve reached maximum medical improvement. A workers’ compensation settlement can’t happen until you’ve reached MMI.
You may choose any doctor authorized by the workers’ compensation board. If your employer’s insurance company has a PPO, you must use a doctor from the PPO for the first 30 days. You may choose any doctor within the PPO and may change at any time. If the workers’ compensation board authorizes your own primary care physician, you may see them.
Keep Your IME Appointments
Independent medical exam (IME) appointments are appointments with an insurance company doctor that lets them get their own sense of your progress. While it’s true that the IME and your doctor may disagree with your progress and needs, you’ll at least have a record of this disagreement.
If you try to avoid the appointment because you think the IME doctor is biased and will just hurt your case, the insurance company will use that against you.
Follow the Doctor’s Instructions to the Letter
Insurance companies hire private investigators.
If the doctor tells you not to lift anything heavier than a milk jug and a PI snaps a photo of you struggling with a giant package, then you will encounter some issues with your workers’ compensation settlement down the line. You may even get accused of insurance fraud.
If the doctor’s instructions don’t work with your life, get an exception for that particular issue. For example, if your apartment has no elevator and you live on the third floor, being told to “avoid stairs” can be a problem. You need your doctor’s orders to be: “Avoid stairs, except for necessary trips into and out of your apartment.”
To avoid misunderstandings, you can open your mouth and tell your doctor about issues like apartment stairs.
Return to Work If You Can, When You Can
New York worker’s compensation law supports returning to work as soon as possible. There are good reasons to do this.
First, you get your salary back, which is generally more than your temporary weekly benefits.
Second, if you have scheduled loss benefits, remember any temporary benefits you receive are subtracted from the scheduled loss payouts. You’ll get more money if you go back to work, even if you go back on light duty.
Get Help Today
Hiring a lawyer is one of the best ways to maximize your settlement. We can help you strengthen your case, and we can help you avoid major mistakes in your case.
Contact us to get started today.