According to the latest U.S. occupational injury statistics, there were roughly 2.7 million nonfatal work injuries and illnesses in 2020. About 1.2 million of these incidents resulted in days away from the workplace (although about 544,000 of these were attributed to illness, largely due to COVID).
With that many work accidents and illnesses, there are a lot of misconceptions about what protections you have, what your employer owes you, and what your employer is allowed to do to you. That's why we wrote this article: to make sure you know what you're in for.
Myth 1: My Employer Will Always Have My Back
You’ve given a lot to your employer. Especially if you’ve been with a company for years or decades, you're probably friends with your co-workers or even your boss. Some companies are like tight-knit families. If you’re injured, you might think that your employer will help you, pay your medical bills, and cover your paycheck without batting an eye. That's the first myth about job accidents: your employer will help you.
The fact is, your boss or your manager doesn't have a say in how your work injury claim is handled. By the time you're admitted to a hospital, higher-ups in the risk management department at your company are already looking into how to pin the blame on you. The company's insurers are working to limit their losses by cutting into your benefits. These are the people in charge of your future: people who don't know you or care about you. Even if your boss cares about you, they're not in charge of what happens to you—the insurers are.
Myth 2: I Can't Do Anything If I Was at Fault
This one is an easy myth to bust: workers' comp claims are awarded on a no-fault basis. In other words, it doesn't matter if you were at fault or not because you're entitled to workers' comp benefits.
But there's a more important point to make here. After nearly every major industrial disaster, companies scramble to figure out how to absolve themselves of responsibility. They'll blame bad manufacturing, bad contractors, and even their own employees—particularly if those employees file a lawsuit for negligence. They'll say "It wasn't our fault, it was his own fault that he got hurt!"
Here's the truth: every work accident we've ever investigated was ultimately caused by negligence on the company's part. Industrial job sites are massive machines; no one person could make it all run. By the same token, no one person could burn it all down by accident, either.
Instead of accepting the company's explanation of what happened, our work injury lawyers thoroughly investigate every accident, uncovering the policies, decisions, and negligence that led to your harm.
Myth 3: My Claim Will Be Approved Automatically
When workers are injured, they are entitled to benefits that cover their medical care and lost wages. These benefits are typically paid through workers’ compensation (except for federal government employees, maritime and offshore workers, and railway workers, whose injuries are covered by different laws). Aside from those exceptions, workers’ compensation is supposed to cover all work-related accidents, work injuries, and occupational illnesses.
Workers’ comp benefits are paid on a no-fault basis, meaning injured workers do not have to prove that someone else was to blame. This means that your claim should be approved, right?
There are a few key steps you need to take to make sure your claim is filed correctly. You also need to report a work injury to your employer within a certain timeframe, depending on your state. A single misstep could jeopardize your claim.
Myth 4: Workers’ Comp Will Pay for Everything I Need
Insurance companies are for-profit businesses. They make money by collecting premiums. They spend money when they pay out claims. It would be nice to think that insurance companies handle work injury claims fairly, but this is rarely true—especially when it comes to serious injuries that require a considerable amount of medical care and cause permanent disabilities. To protect their bottom line, insurers might force you to go back to work before you're ready, limit your benefits, offer you a lowball settlement, delay your claim, or even outright deny it without cause.
The best way to ensure that the insurance company pays fairly is by getting an attorney who handles work injury cases. Your lawyer can review the settlement offer or the details of your weekly benefits to see if it covers everything it should. If you’re experiencing any delays or had your claim denied, your attorney can file an appeal on your behalf, negotiate for a better settlement, or even take your case to court.
Myth 5: I Can't Do Anything Once My Claim Is Denied
Did you know that about two out of three workers’ comp claims that are initially denied end up being paid within a year? This statistic was uncovered by researchers who studied 273,000 workers’ comp claims from 150 companies over a 5-year period, from January 2013 through December 2017. The study found that of all initially denied claims, 67 percent ended up being paid within 12 months. We believe this shows that most initial denials are simply invalid, unfounded, or wrong.
Workers’ comp claims are most often denied for the following reasons:
- There is no medical evidence of the injury.
- The injury is not work-related.
- The injured worker had a pre-existing condition.
- The claimant does not qualify for workers’ comp benefits.
- The claimant committed fraud or misrepresentation.
- The worker was injured because of drug or alcohol use.
- The worker did not report the injury soon enough.
Many of these issues can be resolved by providing additional information or supporting documentation. Instead of conceding to an initial denial, check again. Talk to a lawyer who can review the denial letter and help you in appealing the decision.
Myth 6: I'll Get Fired if I Sue My Company
This myth is one of the most common ones we've heard. We'll get calls from workers all the time who are afraid of what might happen to them if they sued their employer for negligence. But here's the truth: your company cannot fire you for exercising your rights (which includes suing them). To do so would be retaliation, which is illegal.
The same lawyer you hire to handle your case will also protect you from retaliation—and your company knows that. As long as you have a lawyer, it would be a massive misstep on their part to fire you, punish you, or even change your schedule in retaliation.
Myth 7: All Work Injury Lawyers Are the Same
We have already stressed the importance of involving an attorney, but can you hire just anyone? While you can, you shouldn't. Hiring an attorney is an important step in showing your employer and the insurance company that you will demand the benefits you deserve. But that only works if your insurer takes your attorney seriously.
You'll see the most benefit from having a firm in your corner that insurance companies know by name—a firm like Arnold & Itkin. Our attorneys have a reputation for results in work injury cases across the U.S. When you work with our team, you’re not working with just “any attorney.” You’re working with leading trial lawyers who will fight for the outcome you rightfully deserve—attorneys who have obtained over $15 billion in verdicts and settlements.
Contact Arnold & Itkin Today: (888) 493-1629
We hope this article has helped to dispel common myths about work injuries and your rights. We also hope we’ve shed some light on the underhanded tactics that some insurance companies and employers use to avoid taking responsibility for on-the-job injuries. If you’re interested in finding out more about our attorneys and the ways we can help you, we welcome you to call (888) 493-1629 for a free, private consultation.
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