A question I am sometimes asked by perspective clients is whether their workers’ compensation benefits can be denied if they did not see a doctor immediately after their work accident.
Seeing a doctor immediately after a work injury can help your work injury claim.
While there is no strict requirement that you must see a doctor immediately after a work accident, it is generally a good idea to see one as soon as possible. Having a medical doctor evaluate your injuries after an accident offers documented proof to the insurance company and your employer that you sustained an injury. The insurance company isn’t simply going to take your word for it. Without documentation, the insurance company or your employer may not believe that you were injured and they could try to deny your claim. We’ve seen this happen.
Notify Employer of Injury Within 30 Days (In Writing)
The very first step you should take after you are injured on the job is to notify your employer of the injury and accident. The law requires you to provide this notice within 30 days of the accident. The notice can be either in writing or by simply telling your employer of the injury and accident. While you can certainly verbally tell your employer that you were injured, experience tells us it is always safer to put the notification in writing. Again – you need documentation that you informed your employer. And your employer needs documentation. You can send an email, write a letter, or send a text message telling your employer when, where, and how you were injured on the job.
Get Medical Treatment as Soon as Possible
After informing your employer of your injury, they may direct you to a specific doctor for medical care. What we’ve seen happen is that often the employer will send you to a medical facility, such as an urgent care-type facility. Make sure you attend that medical appointment and explain to the doctor exactly how you were injured and tell them all of the medical problems you are having related to the injury. It is important to be clear and direct when communicating with the doctor so hopefully they can document the circumstance surrounding your injury and accident so that your employer and insurance company can understand exactly what happened.
If your employer or their insurance company do not direct you to medical care after your report of an accident, then you should let them know that you are going to seek care on your own. If they are unwilling to provide you medical care you can use health insurance if you are covered to obtain this medical care. If you do not have health insurance and your injury is causing major problems, then seeking treatment at an emergency room can be an option. Or, an urgent care-type facility is also a good option if you do not have health insurance and are able to afford the cost of the initial visit.
If the employer or their insurance company directs you to medical care, they will be able to access the medical records from the initial visit. The law allows this access so they can further direct your medical care. If they choose to direct your medical care, it is generally a good idea to allow them to do so and to cooperate with the medical treatment they provide. If you choose not to go to the doctors they send you to, that can sometimes be a basis for denying your claim.
Overall, it is important that you notify your employer immediately after an accident at work where you sustained an injury. It is also important to seek medical care as soon as reasonably possible. If you do not notify your employer or if you delay your medical care, you could be creating a situation where the insurance company and your employer may eventually try to deny your workers’ compensation claim.
Why Is Immediate Medical Care So Important?
When you go to the doctor they will document your injuries, how and when you said you received them, and they will outline a plan of care. Without this documentation, it can often be difficult for an attorney to effectively help you if there is not enough information documented that proves you were injured around the time the injury and accident occurred.
In sum, not seeking immediate medical treatment is not an absolute bar to obtaining workers’ compensation benefits, but it certainly can make obtaining those benefits much harder if you sustained a significant injury at work.
These are just some of the reasons that we always urge injured workers to contact us as soon as possible. There are so many traps and pitfalls injured workers can potentially fall into simply because they are not experienced in workers’ comp law.
We are experienced. Our North Carolina workers’ compensation attorneys at the Law Offices of James Scott Farrin have the knowledge and experience to fight for you if the insurance company tries to deny you the medical treatment you need to get better. Based on our team’s 150 years of combined experience, it is almost always a good idea to speak with us about your circumstances. Our confidential case evaluations are free, and you may learn that you’re entitled to more than the insurance company claims.
Get a Free Case Evaluation from NC Workers’ Comp Lawyers
If you are injured at work and your claim is denied for reasons relating to medical treatment, or the insurance company and employer are failing to provide you medical treatment, contact us today or call 1-866-900-7078 so we can discuss working together to try to protect your rights.
P.S. Want more good reasons to contact us about your work injury? Here’s a resource on why to hire a lawyer.