WEAR and TEAR injuries are always particularly challenging because they often do not have clear physical manifestations. Unlike a broken arm or a dislocated knee, it may not be obvious to your employer that you are suffering from serious back pain at work or a neck injury due to prolonged time in front of a computer.
Despite the insidious nature of WEAR and TEAR injuries, they are no less important and no less detrimental to an employee’s health. Even those injuries that are not clearly obvious should be treated seriously by employers and should entitle an employee to immediate medical treatment. If you do not feel like your employer is taking your WEAR and TEAR injury seriously, there are several important steps that you can take.
Attention for Your WEAR and TEAR Injury in Northfield
In a normal workers’ compensation situation, when an employee notifies an employer of a workplace injury, the employer should take the injury seriously and immediately address the situation
This means (1) filing a claim with their workers’ compensation insurer, and (2) directing the worker to take whatever immediate medical steps are necessary. This could be a trip to the emergency room or scheduling an appointment with the employer’s physician of choice. After the workers’ compensation claim is filed, the insurance company can then follow up with the employee regarding the claim and future treatment.
When an employer fails to take an employee’s WEAR and TEAR injury seriously by not filing a claim or not allowing the employee the opportunity to obtain the proper medical treatment, then the employee must take his or her health into their own hands while doing their best to preserve the claim down the road.
The most important thing that any employee can do is to make sure to very carefully document the injury and the interactions with the employer. The employee should note precisely how the injury arose, what the symptoms are, when the employer was first alerted to the injury, and any subsequent notices regarding the injury.
Employees should also consider putting their notice of their claim and injury into writing if they have not already done so. This can be as simple as providing the employer with a short email, notifying them of the injury that has occurred and requesting it be covered by workers’ compensation.
Seeking Medical Treatment with Your Claim in Mind
An employee’s first priority must always be to get immediate medical treatment and attempt to minimize any long term health damage. But for savvy employees, this can also be done with the right to a workers’ compensation claim in mind.
Whether visiting a doctor’s office or an emergency room, employees can also create a paper trail at their doctor’s office that supports their workers’ compensation claim. For example, when filling out initial paperwork related to the injury, you can clearly indicate that the injury resulted at work or from tasks being undertaken in furtherance of your work.
Likewise, if meeting with a physician directly, do your best to clearly articulate that you were injured as a result of work and explain the circumstances that led to your injury. An employee might even consider asking a physician to note that this is a workplace injury in his or her notes in order to assist a claim down the road.
In the absence of an employer’s willingness to take your injury seriously, it is imperative that you treat your injury as a workers’ compensation claim and proceed accordingly. This will help to prove your claim later on, should your employer later decide to contest your injury.
Look into Your Legal Options
Employees have a legal right to make a claim for workers’ compensation. If your employer is not allowing you to assert this right or preventing you from obtaining the compensation that you deserve, you may have legal remedies that you can pursue under New Jersey’s workers’ compensation laws. In order to best preserve your rights, you should speak with an attorney as soon as possible.
We earn our reputation by helping our clients overcome a limitless number of challenges time and time again. Specifically, many injured employees are thrown curveballs by their employers and workers’ comp insurance companies that are confusing, perplexing, and unfair.
Some of the most common issues we successfully handle for our clients include the following:
- The insurance company’s initial denial (rejection) of a workers’ comp claim based on a number of different reasons:
- Failure of employee to notify employer in a timely manner
- Failure of employee to seek medical treatment for a work-related injury in a timely manner
- Determination that the injury was suffered outside the scope of employment
- Determination that the injury was not suffered at a place of employment (this may include a determination that the injury was pre-existing)
- Determination that the incident leading to injury is exempt from workers’ comp insurance coverage (e.g., self-inflicted injury, injury caused as a result of horseplay, injury caused because of impairment due to alcohol or drugs)
- The insurance company’s decision to not pay (or discontinue payment of) medical expenses based on the following reasons:
- Determination that the medical treatment is or was provided by an unauthorized physician
- Determination that the type and/or duration of treatment is or was not authorized
- Determination that the medical treatment is unnecessary and/or unreasonable
- Determination that the medical treatment is unrelated to work-related injury
- Determination that the medical treatment has exceeded a reasonable duration
- The insurance company’s decision regarding temporary, permanent, partial, and/or total disability:
- Each of these classifications of disability determine the amount and duration of weekly benefits that an injured employee may receive, and insurance companies may improperly classify a disability in order to pay less benefits.
- The insurance company’s failure to correctly calculate an injured employee’s average weekly wages:
- An employee’s average weekly wages prior to the work-related injury is critical in determining the amount of weekly benefits to be paid to an injured employee. Failure to correctly calculate this number may result in lower weekly check amounts.
- An insurance company’s low-ball settlement offer:
- In order to resolve an outstanding claim as quickly as possible (for as little money as possible), the insurance company may offer a low-ball amount to settle the claim. In workers’ comp cases, any settlement reached is referred to as a “lump sum settlement.”
- Unlawful termination of employment because of a work injury:
- Employers are not required to hold an employee’s position open in every single workers’ comp situation; in many cases, they must hold the job open.
- There are strict rules and regulations that govern an employer’s duty in this regard; in many cases, employers unlawfully and/or improperly terminate an injured employee’s employment.
- Moreover, injured employees may be able to return to work with certain restrictions, but employers do not want to deal with the hassle. In these cases, employers fail to provide legally required, necessary accommodations, or they may simply unlawfully terminate employees due to the restrictions.
New Jersey Attorneys Fighting for Your Injury to Be Taken Seriously
The workers’ compensation system is set up to make sure that employers take care of their employees and protect them in the event they are injured. Sometimes, however, employers do not take these responsibilities seriously. When this happens, employees must be their own best advocates.
Particularly when dealing with WEAR and TEAR injuries, employers may be reluctant to give an injury the respect that it deserves. This means that employees must do their best to document their injury, and requests for coverage, in hopes of their claim being recognized down the road.