Making Changes To Your Life

Timing Your Workers' Comp Claim

by Kristin Hawkins

When it comes to seeking benefits for a work-related accident or illness, it's all about the timing. Your employer's workers' compensation insurance plan should provide you with some valuable benefits but you need to take action quickly and abide by the rules. To find out why the timing of your actions matter, read on.

State Rules Vary

Workers' compensation insurance is a private business but is overseen by each state. That means the coverage and rules will vary somewhat from state to state. The information below is general in nature and references common rules about workers' comp in many states. To get more precise information, access your state's workers' compensation board online. In most places, there are time limits between 30 and 90 days for claims to be filed. If you are unable to contact your employer for some reason, exceptions to the time rule may exist. Being in the hospital, for example, can extend the deadline for filing a claim.

When to File Claims

In most cases, the sooner you file your claim, the better your chances of having a successful claim experience the better. Workers' compensation insurers may be highly suspicious of claims filed long after an accident or illness has occurred. To the insurer, delayed claims can make it appear that the filer doesn't have a work-related injury or that they are faking an injury to fraudulently collect benefits.

How to File Claims

Prompt attention to these tips for filing a claim will help make things smoother:

  1. Your first order of business should be to seek medical care for your injury. You cannot claim benefits without doing so.
  2. Let the doctor know that your injury occurred at work or that it was caused by your work.
  3. Even if your claim is not filed right away, be sure to inform your supervisor about your injury or illness right away.
  4. In some states, it is the supervisor's job to fill out the claim form which you will sign. In some, it may be filled out by the hurt worker. Some states provide claim forms online.
  5. Before the claim form is submitted, check it carefully for errors and omissions. Be as detailed as possible with descriptions, dates, times, names, and more.
  6. Speak to co-workers who saw the accident or know about the illness and explore the possibility of obtaining a video of the accident.
  7. Have someone photograph your injuries, if possible.

If you encounter problems filing a claim, are dealing with an uncooperative employer, or have had your claim for benefits denied, speak to a workers' compensation attorney as soon as you can.