Speaking to unions about workers comp benefits.
A lot of what we do is education - trying to provide the best information to people about how to handle a workers comp case. So we're always honored to get an invitation from a local union to help educate their members.
So Mr. Kearney was glad to speak to members of Laborers Local 657 about the rights and responsibilities of someone who gets hurt at work in DC, Maryland and Virginia. Remember, there is a lot of misinformation out there - contractors, employers, co-workers often tell you exactly the wrong thing about your case, even if they don't mean to.
Here are a few themes we run into over and over talking to people who have been hurt at work.
- The employer will tell you they will file your claim for you (they won't and can't)
- The employer has a doctor or clinic they say you need to get treatment from (no)
- You are afraid of losing your job if you report a work injury (they cannot fire you for this)
Here are the real answers to some of the questions and problems these workers had to deal with in addition to a work injury.
- First, make sure you tell your supervisor that your injury happened at work. And tell your doctor the same thing - do not assume the doctor will read anything sent to him - tell him how the injury happened.
- After you have told your supervisor (given notice of the claim) file your workers comp claim. This doesn't mean filling out a form for your employer or telling their insurance company what happened - you need to file that claim with the correct state or city agency (and don't file it in the wrong place - that could cost you thousands of dollars).
- Don't go to an insurance doctor or some "workers clinic" your company sends you to - just don't. In D.C. and Maryland you have the right to choose your own treating physician (in Va you choose from a panel the workers comp insurance provides).
Get a doctor who will treat you, not the workers comp insurance company!
These are just a few basic points of the complicated workers comp system we have in DC (and MD and VA) but they come up over and over in talking to people who get hurt on the job and in the Q and A of our seminars for workers.
We still take time every week to answer questions from injured workers and their families, without charge. So take advantage of that and call us at (202) 393 - 3320 with your questions and concerns to make sure you are on the right track with your workers comp case.
Anyone who answers the phone can schedule a telephone conference with an injured worker or family member.
Don't wait though. The longer you go without knowing your rights, the more the insurance company will take advantage of you.