1) Failing to report the injury or delaying treatment
Kentucky law requires injured workers to report their work injury claim as soon as “reasonable.” What is “reasonable” depends on the unique facts of your case. If you wait too long, you could lose out on your right to medical benefits, lost wages, and other benefits you’re entitled to as an injured worker. Many workers have an accident at work and hope that their condition gets better on its own, and by the time they realize they have a severe injury, it’s too late. Other times, your employer may talk you into purposely not turning the claim into workers’ compensation with the promise that they will take care of the medical bills, or you can have your private health insurance pay the expenses. Don’t fall for this- the law requires employers to carry workers’ compensation insurance for a reason, and it will ONLY benefit them if you do not report your work injury to workers’ compensation.
2) Only going to the employer’s preferred doctors
Generally speaking, when you’re hurt at work, you get to treat with any doctor of your choosing. Many employers will refer you to work injury clinics or other similar employer-preferred offices. Those clinics can provide you fast and easy treatment, but they’re not always on your side. Even if you’ve gone to your employer’s work injury clinic once or even a few times, you can switch to treatment with your doctor at a later point. Your employer cannot force you to continue therapy with a doctor you’re not comfortable with, or someone who you know is not truly on your side.
3) Working outside your restrictions
If you’re hurt at work and placed on light duty or off-work restrictions, you must follow those restrictions no matter where you are. That means whether you’re at work or home, you need to make sure you’re not doing anything that falls outside of your restrictions, such as lifting things beyond your weight limits. If your employer asks you to perform specific tasks that your doctor has restricted you from, politely remind them that you’re not allowed to perform that task according to your doctor and ask for alternative work that fits within your restrictions. Also, be aware of private investigators hired by the insurance company to perform surveillance of you. Surveillance of injured workers is 100% legal and quite common in Kentucky. Anything you do out in the open can and will be used against you in your workers’ compensation case.
4) Trusting an insurance adjuster
Workers’ compensation adjusters often come off as kind, caring, and like they’re on your side. Don’t be fooled. Their job is to pay you as little as possible and save the insurance company as much as possible. You should NEVER agree to a workers’ compensation settlement without it being reviewed by a lawyer of your choosing. The only person truly on your side besides yourself is your experienced workers’ compensation lawyer.
5) Assuming you don’t have a claim because you have a prior injury
While previous injuries can sometimes make work injury cases more complicated, it doesn’t mean you don’t have a claim. Kentucky law does not eliminate your workers’ compensation benefits just because you’ve hurt that same area of your body before. The law is particular as to when a pre-existing injury is or is not relevant to a work injury claim. A workers’ compensation lawyer will be able to explain to you what injuries are covered or not.