Worker’s Compensation in Michigan: A Crash Course in the Laws
Some of the most frequent questions we receive here at The Clark Law Office regard worker’s compensation. Specifically, many people wish to know how they can avoid long, costly worker’s comp litigation, as well as tips regarding how to best prepare a worker’s comp case, so they can most guarantee being paid their benefits. While worker’s comp law can be a complex realm to navigate, there are a few things every injured worker can do to either push the employer towards agreeing to pay compensation, or to prepare the best possible case on the chance of litigation.
Making the Report For a Claim
The very, very first step every injured worker needs to take comes in the form of the reporting process. On a state level, the Workers’ Compensation Act, or WCA, requires the employee to inform the employer of the injury within ninety (90) days. This can be a verbal notice, though admittedly written notices are better as eventual evidence if need be.
The WCA is the legal basis for reporting time-frames, but that does mean that certain employers will not attempt to skirt around it by creating arbitrary 24-hour reporting periods. Here, employers will argue that an employee who does not report within that single day time-frame has lost their ability to claim compensation.
Employers are especially fond of disputing worker’s comp cases on this rule when it comes to Friday injuries that are reported the following Monday, as they can claim the injury happened at home and not in the workplace. Never take an employer’s word for it – in the case of a denial for worker’s comp on the basis of late reporting, immediately consult an experienced worker’s comp attorney for assistance and guidance.
Problems With Your Medical History
Another area where employers can get out of paying worker’s compensation is in the realm of the medical history. Often, incomplete and/or inaccurate medical histories can hurt the injured worker in the worker’s comp claim process. Not only should the worker inform the employer of the link between their work and the injury, but they should also inform every physician or medical professional of the same.
That being said, the injured worker also needs to make certain that the doctor is thorough in reporting the medical history. While a verbal check-up can seem sufficient at the time, it is not enough for the original claim process; not to mention, if the doctor needs to testify, it will be during litigation, months after the examination and therefore prone to being forgotten.
Always make sure your examining doctor is recording everything you tell them, as well as sending you copies of the medical histories for evidence and reading everything back to you as confirmation.
Never Fill Out Any Form Without Talking To An Attorney First!
Immediately after your injury, your employer will likely ask you to fill out a sickness and accident or short-term disability form while they determine whether you are eligible for worker’s comp benefits. These forms have a lot of different questions on them, of which one concerning the relationship between the injury and your job is extremely important. Generally, the question will read along these lines:
“Do you believe that your disability was caused by an injury? Do you believe that the injury or disability arose out of your employment?”
If you are quite certain that your injury came from your work, state that clearly on the form. Meanwhile, if you are a bit more uncertain, respond by saying that you are not sure at this time, and are awaiting medical advice. This will make sure you’re not hurting a later possible worker’s comp lawsuit.
However, do not be discouraged if you previously answered in the negative to the question, and are now seeking a worker’s compensation appeal. While this answer may slightly slow down the litigation process, it is no way impossible to prove a work-injury relationship regardless.
The (Employer’s) Verdict
An injured worker should never, ever accept an employer’s call when it comes to worker’s compensation. Unfortunately, the way the system is set up makes it advantageous for employers to deny benefits, and therefore you should consult experienced worker’s comp attorneys to evaluate and guide your case.
Most of the time, a worker’s comp magistrate will make the final call on whether benefits are awarded, though frequently settlements between the employer (and their insurance carrier) and worker (and their lawyer) will be reached. Following the above considerations will not only reduce the chance of litigation being necessary, but also make any sort of litigation process easier on the worker.
Contact Our Attorneys If You Still Have Questions Regarding Your Claim
If you believe your worker’s compensation benefits were unjustly denied to you, contact The Clark Law Office today to get an experienced attorney to evaluate your case and all its evidence. Call us today at +1 (517) 347-6900.