If you are injured on the job, you’ll most likely want to file a workers’ compensation claim, especially if your injury causes you to miss substantial time at work. Before you report your injury and start a claim, it’s important to anticipate that your insurance company will require evidence to support your claim and demonstrate that it’s covered under your employer’s insurance policy. The best way to do this is to have a substantial amount of thorough documentation to support your claims, meaning you should make every possible effort to record your condition, what you’ve done to treat it, and what it has cost you in terms of damages. Here are four types of documentation you should make sure you have.
When you’re injured at work, you’ll almost certainly have to pay for some things out of your own pocket that you need immediately. This might include small things like over-the-counter pain medicine, or a co-pay for a visit to your local urgent care office. These are all things which you can be reimbursed for as a part of your workers’ compensation claim. Save your receipts from these expenses—you’ll need them in order to show your employer and their insurance company what the accident has cost you.
What many people don’t realize is they can even claim the mileage they have to put on their car in order to seek treatment for their injuries.This means all trips to and from your doctor’s appointments, physical therapy treatments, chiropractor visits, independent medical exams, and more can all be submitted for reimbursement. Keep a small journal in your car and write down the date and time of each trip, the starting address, your destination address, and the odometer reading when you start your trip and when you arrive. Also write down any added expenses you incur, such as bridge tolls, and save receipts if you get one.
It’s not uncommon for an injury to cause someone to miss work due to the immense pain. In fact, in many cases your doctor will recommend you take time off of work in order to rest and focus on your recovery while preventing your condition from getting worse. But when you’re not at work, you’re not getting paid, so how can you continue to support your family and loved ones?
Workers’ compensation takes care of this by reimbursing you for all or part of your lost income for the amount of time you miss work, provided you miss at least three days of work or more. In California, you’re allowed to claim any income from your primary job, plus any overtime or income you would have received from a second job or business you own. This means you’ll be required to submit documentation of your income from all these sources, including several months’ worth of pay stubs, bonus statements, and anything else that’s relevant. An attorney can advise you on what specific documents you should keep copies of for
your exact situation.
In California, an injured worker can receive up to two-thirds of their average weekly wage or $1,128.43 per week, whichever is less. Average weekly wage is calculated by breaking down your pay for each of your positions into weekly amounts and averages, and then adding each of those averages together.
Most of the documentation relating to your case is going to involve your injury and what you do to treat it. This means you’ll want to keep copies of anything you receive from your insurance company, anything you send them, all doctor visits, any medications or treatments you receive, and more. There are many different ways these things are documented, so you’ll want to be thorough and proactive about getting copies of each of them.
This can include:
- Accident reports
- Claim forms
- Doctor’s reports and medical records
- Contact information for witnesses
- Correspondence with your employer or their insurance company
- All acceptance, denial, or request for information letters from the insurance company
- Any forms filed with a state workers’ comp agency
You should also keep a detailed log of all phone correspondence you have regarding your claim, particularly the calls you have with the insurance company. Write down the time of the call, who you spoke to, what you spoke about, their direct contact information (if you can get it), and how long you spoke with them. For example, if the insurance company adjuster calls you regarding an issue with your paperwork that needs clarification, write down what the error was and how you fixed it with them.
Finally, you should make sure you keep a record of how you feel your condition is progressing. This means keeping a daily record of how your condition is improving (or not improving) based on simple activities. If you can’t move a joint past a certain amount, write that down. If you can’t put your weight on something, write that down. If you’re having trouble gripping, walking, sitting, or doing any other normal activity,write that too.
Also write down how much pain you’re experiencing on a one-to-ten scale to help indicate whether or not your condition is improving or not so much. Sometimes you may feel as though you’re improving, but the fact that the pain is receding slowly may indicate the damage isn’t fixed. You’ll also want to indicate any restrictions you still have as you heal, which can be extremely important if you are assigned a form of permanent disability later.