Some workplace injury claims can have elements that make it ripe for the employer or their insurance provider to be suspicious about the claim. Both the employer and their workers’ compensation insurance provider have the responsibility and authority to investigate a claim in North Carolina, especially when they occur in a remote work location. Injuries that happen at a central location where other workers are in attendance such as a factory are typically obvious workplace injuries unless they are the result of horseplay by the injured party, and it is not uncommon for either potentially liable party to retain a private investigator to monitor off-the-job behavior or inspect the background of an injured claimant employee. And, there are several things that a claimant can do to impact their claim in a negative manner. These can be very important when receiving workers’ compensation or claiming an injury in a standard negligence lawsuit in serious injury situations.
Stay Off of Social Media
First on the list of what to not do following a workplace injury claim is post photos and videos of yourself on social media, and especially on Facebook. Employers and their insurance companies alike have caught on to using this particular social media platform when wanting evidence supporting claim denials or defense that an injury is not as severe as claimed. Other platforms like Instagram, Telegram, and Pinterest are not quite as popular, but they are also accessible for outsiders, which means that any particular post could be viewed publicly. Furthermore, with the possible exception of Telegram, they are also capable of being posted on the more-popular Facebook by primary account holders or their friends based on privacy settings. It is actually a good decision to use as many privacy alternatives as possible when you have a workplace injury claim open. Remember that these posts are all considered “publications” just like a website or newspaper, and they can be used as open-source material evidence in a court proceeding when they are downloaded from the open Internet.
Do Not Fail to Meet Medical Appointments
Another vital component of diagnosing and rehabilitating a workplace injury is any follow-up medical appointments after the initial diagnosis and prognosis report. The first injury evaluation will provide a specific diagnosis and a long-range prognosis for recovery, and many times the latter is not an exact determination. Actually, a diagnosis can be problematic as well, and many employers or their insurance companies will want a claimant to comply with additional requests for evaluation by a proposed “independent” doctor. These physicians are typically anything but independent, and many times they function much like a Social Security doctor in helping the insurance provider build a case defense for denial or defense that the injury is not as serious as being claimed. Any failure to meet these requested appointments can be used as documentation to support a claim denial or benefits stoppage, which is very common in workers’ compensation cases when the respondent workers’ compensation insurance company wants to settle with a lump sum as opposed to continuing benefits until being rehabilitated to the point of being capable of working once again. Additionally, this can include physical therapy appointments as well, and insurance companies often check-up with treatment providers for verification of appointment attendance.
Do Not Discuss the Injury
It is also a bad decision to discuss the seriousness of a workplace injury with others, and particularly with employment associates who may pass the information along to supervisors or company officials. Those who appear as friends may not necessarily be trustworthy, and the best personal practice is to keep quiet and only discuss the injury with treatment professionals and your workplace accident lawyers. Additionally, be honest with both medical technicians and your attorneys because they are both working in your best interest regarding recovery and financial compensation. Let them do their jobs and focus on following instructions from both professionals. Personal testimony from medical technicians is considered “expert” testimony if a deposition is required for court, even in the workers’ compensation system, and being honest in communication and diligent in continuing rehabilitation is vital for a successful outcome unless injuries are obviously very serious and debilitating.
Do Not Fail to Contact Your Attorney Before Returning to Work
All workplace accident lawyers will advise reporting to them any time a doctor wants to release you to go back to work. It is easy for a doctor to release someone whose injury has not been completely rehabilitated, and insurance companies will be eager to cease benefits as soon as possible. Employers often want to terminate employees who have filed a workers’ comp claim after they return to work in hopes there will be no recurring problems. There are multiple valid reasons that employers can attempt to use as justification for termination, and many times this is a direct retaliatory act by the company. Failure to pay benefits could be construed as bad faith by the insurance company in a standard court of law, and employers by law cannot retaliate directly for any claimed workplace injury. Workplace accident lawyers need to be informed of all decisions to return to work because further evaluation may be needed if your primary physician has been contacted and influenced by the employer. How you handle your return to work is just as important as reporting the injury in detail as soon as possible when it occurs.