When workers are injured on the job in Georgia, they most likely qualify for some kind of workers’ compensation. Through workers’ compensation, injured workers may receive help paying for medical bills associated with their workplace injury and benefits to make up for lost income due to missed days of work. However, no worker can receive any benefits if they do not first file a workers’ compensation claim. Many workers feel intimidated by or do not fully understand the workers’ compensation process and end up making mistakes that eventually lead to a claim being turned down. If you are injured in a workplace accident, it is extremely important to follow the exact procedures mandated by the Georgia Board of Workers’ Compensation. Most claims are denied simply because the worker made a simple mistake during the filing process. If you have trouble understanding the process or have questions regarding a claim, it’s important to contact a workers’ compensation attorney. Mistake 1 – Failure to Report Injury Although this should perhaps be the most obvious step in workers’ compensation, it is also the most common mistake. The workers’ compensation claim process cannot begin until your employer has been notified about your injury. Failing to report an injury in a timely manner can lead to suspicions about your claim or benefits being denied altogether. Many workers fear that reporting injuries may lead to disciplinary consequences. It is, however, illegal for employers to punish a worker for filing a claim. If you have been injured, you should inform and employer or supervisor, preferably in writing, as soon as possible after the injury occurs. Mistake 2 – Not Providing Medical Providers With an Accurate Account If you sustain an injury at work that requires medical attention, workers’ compensation benefits should cover the expenses. However, you must be diligent about fully reporting any and all injuries to medical providers and it’s crucial that you neither downplay nor overplay an injury. This is important not only so that the treating physician can provide you with the appropriate medical care, but also so benefits can be accurate. Insurance adjusters will base workers’ compensation benefits on reports given by the doctor assigned to your case and ensure that the medical reports are consistent with what the injured employee reported. Giving incorrect information during any reporting or medical treatment will jeopardize your eligibility for workers’ compensation benefits. Mistake 3 – Being Careless With Paperwork Throughout the workers’ compensation claims process, the injured employee must complete a variety of forms. The most important thing for an injured worker to do is complete all forms and meet all filing deadlines. Many claims are denied because of carelessness with claim forms. Mistake 4 – Disobeying the Doctor’s Orders Any medical treatment the treating physician deems necessary to cure, relieve, or lessen the duration of a work-related disability must be followed. An injured worker who willfully fails to attend any medical appointments, follow treatment plans, or do what is required of them to recover from the injury risks having their claim denied. Mistake 5 – Not Requesting a Second Opinion When seeking medical treatment for occupational injuries, Georgia workers must choose a doctor from a panel of physicians chosen by the employer. However, medical assessments are not always the same and getting a second opinion on treatment of an injury may be beneficial to your case. Mistake 6 – Returning to Work Before Sufficient Recovery The goal of workers’ compensation is to ensure the fastest full recovery so injured employees may return to their jobs. In fact, injured workers are required to take work if they are physically able to do so. However, a worker who returns to work too quickly at the urging of their employer, before appropriate healing has taken place, is jeopardizing their claim. Although many workers can return to their jobs on limited or light duty before full recovery from their injuries, it is crucial that you do so only on the doctor’s orders. Your physician should specify exactly what job duties you can perform with you injury. Mistake 7 – Failing to Return to Work While some workers return to work too soon after their injuries, others fail to do so at all. In terms of workers’ compensation, it is important for an injured worker to return to work if their doctor states you are ready. This may mean returning to your old job with partial disability or limited duties or taking a different job entirely. If your injuries lead to a disability that force you into taking a job with less pay, there may be workers’ compensation benefits available to you. Mistake 8 – Missing Out On Benefits Workers who sustain serious or catastrophic injuries that prevent them from returning to their former jobs can qualify for more than just medical and income benefits. Georgia workers’ compensation also provides limited vocational rehabilitation benefits for catastrophic injuries so you can obtain different work. Mistake 9 – Being Content With an Incorrect Disability Rating After an injury has been treated and you have achieved the maximum recovery possible, you may still suffer from a disability. In these cases, the treating physician assigns you either a partial or total disability rating. This rating affects how much a final workers’ compensation settlement will be. If your injury is severe and you accept a lower rating, you’ll be paid far less compensation than you deserve. Because injuries leading to partial or total disability have more far-reaching effects, it’s important to work with a lawyer to ensure you receive the correct disability rating. Mistake 10 – Failing to Reopen a Claim Most workers assume that after filing a claim and receiving benefits, the case is closed. However, there are circumstances where new medical problems may continue long after the occupational injury occurred. It is possible for injured workers to petition the workers’ compensation board to reopen cases and seek additional assistance for costs related to the injury.