Teaching About Workers Compensation Rights and Benefits
A lot of what we do involves education - we've written books, guides and reports for people hurt at work, in a serious accident or due to medical mistakes. We want people to have the right information so they can protect themselves and their families.
So I was honored to speak to members of Laborers Local 657 recently, a union of people working in construction, on trash trucks. Earning a living doing physical, difficult work.
I tried to give them the basics on workers comp - that's about all you can do in an hour. The system, whether you get hurt in DC, Maryland or Virginia, is a complicated and difficult one for any injured worker to deal with. We have an entire book on workers compensation, a separate union worker's guide to D.C. workers compensation, and many reports on specific subjects that come up.
I tell everyone that workers comp is about protecting your future rights. Here is some of what I talked about with Local 657:
Three important points about workers comp
1. Report the injury/tell your supervisor and doctors how it happened.
After an injury at work, you absolutely have to tell your supervisor, a foreman or someone in HR that the injury happened on the job. It is not enough to tell a co-worker. It is not enough that a supervisor saw it, or heard about your work injury, or someone else told him.
Don't take chances with this. Some people tell their supervisor only that "my back is hurting" or "I think I pulled something." Maybe they take a day or two off, or the weekend, to rest it. Make sure your supervisor and the compnay you work for know that your injury happened at work and fill out an incident report documenting it. Otherwise the insurance company will probably deny it happened at work or delay your claim while they investigate it.
2. Choose YOUR OWN DOCTOR for medical treatment for your work injury.
In DC and Maryland you have the right to choose a doctor for medical treatment if you get hurt at work. Most workers comp insurance companies won't tell you that (and most people don't know this). They will say "we have an approved list of doctors who take workers comp" or tell you they have a physician near you, or worse, say you have to get treatment at some kind of "Workers Clinic" run by insurance companies to only treat people who are hurt at work.
Does that sound like the best health care you can get for your injury?
But don't delay on this - if you've seen the insurance doctor several times, it can be hard to switch, because by seeing him that often, you have "chosen" him as your treating physician.
Remember, insurance companies make money by paying you less - less benefits, less medical treatment, fewer expensive tests (like MRIs, CT scans, etc.)
Get a doctor you can trust for your work injury.
3. Don't just sign forms the insurance company sends - talk to a workers comp lawyer.
In all three local jurisdictions - DC, Maryland and Virginia, you have to file your workers comp claim with the right government agency (if you need the forms, call us and we'll send them to you).
But the laws and benefits are different in all three. The workers comp insurance company knows this. Sometimes they will send you the forms to file in Maryland or Virginia when you should be filing in DC.
Why would this matter?
In some cases, the benefits in DC can be several hundred dollars higher (every week). And once you file in another state, you can't get benefits in DC. Do you think insurance company lawyers and adjusters know this?
There is a lot more to know after a serious injury on the job. Call us at (202) 393 - 3320 and we'll get you the information you need to help.