What are the biggest mistakes to avoid in your Missouri workers’ compensation claim? Well, I have them in a chapter in our book on workers’ compensation. I wrote “Workers’ Compensation in Missouri.” I wrote this. We published it on the website. You can download it for free there. In Chapter 6 of that, we talked about this, and I have Chapter 6 as the biggest mistakes to avoid in a workers’ compensation claim. These are the biggest mistakes that I think folks make. I’ve been looking at this for 25 years. My name’s Gary Burger. I’m with Burger Law, www.burgerlaw.com. Look on our workers’ compensation page. We have a lot of this stuff, and it’s here for you for free.
Number one: Waiting to tell your boss. If you’re injured on the job, report it. Do not wait to tell your boss. If you get injured on a Friday, you’d come, “I don’t want to bother.” You’d come and tell them Monday, they’re going to say that you were moving couches on Saturday and that’s why you really hurt yourself. Go tell your boss. Document it. Have witnesses to it: “Hey, Joe and Frank saw me got injured. Hey, I go to my supervisor. I tell him about it. Do you want to fill out your accident report? He says, ‘No, I‘ll jot it down.’” You see him jot it down. You remember the date. You do it. And, a lot of times you’ll need to get your medical care. Go get medical care. Don’t wait. Go to an urgent care. Go to Concentra if they tell you to do it. “Boss, I got injured. Where do you want me to go get medical care? ‘You’re fine, you’re fine.’ Listen, I really want to get it looked at. I’ll finish out the shift, but I’ll go tonight.” Go on your own health insurance if they won’t send you. You have a record of doing it. Tell them you got injured on the job.
The next, number two, and I can talk more about it and we talk more about it in the book: Not filing a written injury report. You need to file a written injury report in order to properly notify your employer of the injury. The law requires your employer to do that as well, but many times they don’t. You have a written injury report. In work comp, you get to sign a claim number even if you never file a claim. Folks come to me, “Hey, I don’t want to file a claim, man. You know, I don’t want to affect my employer.” If your employers are obeying the law, they’ve already filed an injury claim. You already have a claim number in the Workers’ Compensation Division. You just need to file a claim to pursue it. But, the second biggest mistake is not filing a written injury report. Don’t go to the hospital and say you got hurt at home and not accurately tell them that you really got hurt at work because you want to protect your employer. So, if your boss won’t fill out the injury report, you write a note: “Hey boss, I got injured on this day. I injured my left wrist. I injured it by moving some sheet rock, and it really hurts, and I’m going to go here.” You take a picture of it with your phone. You hand it to him. You slip it under his door. You stick it in the mail. You send him an email. You document it. It may be nothing. Knock on wood, you’re better, but if you’re not and you need wrist surgery or you break your ulna or you have permanent median or ulnar nerve damage in your wrist, you need to be able to document it and show that.
Three: Deny the accident occurred or downplay it for the good of your employer. “Hey man, hey Gary, listen. It’s the end of November. I know it’s Thanksgiving. We have an accident-free month. Let’s not report it. We’ll take care of you. Put it on your private health insurance. We don’t want another report. I don’t want my index to go up. I don’t want my workers’ compensation to go up. Hey man, we’ll take care of you. We’ll take care of you.” Well, there are some good employers; there are also some unscrupulous employers. We have guys who do that, toe the line, then it turns out they need back surgery and they’re out. They can’t provide for their families, or they get fired, and they’re going, “Hey man, you told me to put it on my health insurance. I went to the ER and the orthopod. I told them, I made up the story you and I concocted how I was lifting couches.” No. Don’t deny the accident or further downplay it for the good of your employer. Be accurate and clear with all your providers, and I know this is a long video.
Not getting medical care, the next problem. Go get medical care. Don’t be a tough man. Get the medical care. Say what’s hurting. Let’s get accurate medical care.
Number five: Not talking to a lawyer is another problem. Talk to a lawyer before things progress too far. It doesn’t mean you need to hire a lawyer. I’ll talk to you for free. email@example.com, email me. 314-542-2222, call me. Go to our website. Fill out our contact form. We’ll answer any workers’ compensation questions for free. Talk to a lawyer. Make sure you’re getting two-thirds your weekly wages while you’re off. Make sure you’re getting the appropriate medical care. Make sure the employer’s not denying you the test that you need. Make sure they’re not sending you back on light duty before you’re ready. Make sure that they really have light duty for you. Make sure they’re not creating a false record for you. Make sure they’re not changing your job or firing you or screwing you over because you got a work-related injury. Workers’ compensation benefits are already cheap, so if they’re screwing you over you need to call them on it.
Six: Don’t trust the company doctor. There are many great doctors out there, and many great workers’ compensation doctors who are good surgeons as well; however, some of them get paid a lot of money by the workers’ compensation insurance companies to trick people, and they don’t want to kill the deal, they don’t want to kill the golden goose, so they’re going to sometimes have a motivation to not give you a test; to say you’re okay; to send you back to work before you’re ready; to put you on restrictions that aren’t really yours; to say after a surgery procedure, a physical therapy you’re good to go when you’re really not; to rate you low, they do a surgery on you and say you only have a one percent disability, you’re like, “Doc, I have a walker and I can’t feel my toes.” Well, they have those high motivations. Don’t trust the company doctor, trust that they’re going to take care of you. It’s not a normal doctor-patient relationship. They are working for the employer, the employer controls the medical, and they are reporting that to a workers’ compensation claim representative.
Seven: Accepting too little compensation in your disability at the end of your case. Some people, I’ve heard these stories, sometimes, “Hey, you know, they paid my medical, they paid my TTD, they paid me a grand, and I went away,” and I’m like, you could have made $25,000 on that, and you’re still undercompensated because they don’t pay you for pain and suffering. Don’t accept too little money at the end of your case. Call us. If you don’t like me, call another. If this video is too long, call another lawyer. Let’s find that out, okay? And say, “Hey, here’s the deal. This is what they’re offering me. Should I take it?” And I’ll tell you whether or not.
Eight: Be inconsistent or not credible in your complaints. If you have pain, complain about it. Don’t exaggerate it. Talk consistently and credibly about the pain complaints you have. You don’t want to be a yo-yo. “I’m great. I have an 8 out of 10. I’m great. I have an 8 out of 10.” You need to keep that consistent.
Nine: Don’t be afraid to talk about all of your pain and your mental health issues. If you’re hurt and you have a lot of anxiety and depression because you cannot provide for your family and because you have an injury, you got to tell that to the doctor. Don’t be a tough man. Don’t go into these surgeons or these doctors or these physical therapists or these nurses and tell them that you’re not hurting when you really are. Let’s be honest and truthful to them and give accurate expressions of your pain because they’ll write it all down and they’re using that to determine the level of your benefits and whether you get continued treatment and what your restrictions are when you go back to your doctor.
Ten: Not filing a claim within two years. The limitations period to file a claim for compensation for Missouri workers’ compensation is two years from the date of the incident. File that claim. You go to a doctor, they treat you, then you forget about it for a year, and you’re like, “Hey man, I had knee surgery. They paid my medical. I’m back to work, but I never filed a claim.” Well, you could be entitled to a bunch of money, so call us up at 314-542-2222. Visit us at www.burgerlaw.com. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Fill out the contact form on our website. We’ll talk to you and meet with you for free and tell you if we can add value to your case. Thank you.