Last month, I wrote a post asking, “Is your employer giving you the run-around?” Over the last 20+ years, I’ve represented a lot of injured workers. Often, I hear stories about employers who try to avoid providing medical care for their workers hurt on the job. Too many companies give their employees the “run-around” instead of providing essential workers compensation benefits. In Alabama, you are entitled to workers’ compensation benefits including valuable medical care for your work-related injuries.
So, when I read an article about a company owner in California who was prosecuted and pled guilty for refusing to provide work comp benefits, I thought it was a good time to discuss this common issue. That led me to my prior post discussing “how” bad employers avoid providing medical care benefits.
In my prior blog post, I also discussed the real fraud in our Alabama workers compensation system — Companies that refuse to provide basic benefits. Over 99% of the fraud in our system is committed by employers and health care managers. It’s NOT injured workers. Almost every injured worker wants the same thing — To get better and get back to a normal life.
In my prior post, I focused on the ways bad bosses avoid providing essential medical benefits. As I said earlier, the “hows” of the issue. Some bosses avoid providing benefits by not reporting accidents. Other bosses use their position of authority to “discourage” medical care. Delays in care and benefits hurt you — The injured worker.
Today, I’ll discuss a few ways these delays in medical care actually hurt injured workers. I’ll move past the questions asking how bad employers act to questions of what those actions can cost you. Here are FOUR ways you can be hurt when your boss delays needed medical care:
Delays In Treatment Decrease The Chance Of A Full Recovery
This is the absolute number one reason why delays in medical care are harmful. If you suffer a work-related accident and injury, you may have a lot of worries. But, they usually center around one issue or goal — I want to heal and get better! The most important issue is your long-term health. The most important goal is to get better.
You need an early medical evaluation. It’s key. Some injuries and conditions will worsen if left untreated. Let’s look at a lower back injury. You lift a heavy box at work and feel a sudden “pop” in your back. You suffer immediate pain. You hope it’s just a pulled muscle that will quickly improve. Maybe it is. But, it can also be a serious disc injury in your spine. Left untreated, a ruptured disc can worsen in several ways. It can rupture to a greater degree. Also, the untreated impingement on your nerves can progressively debilitate you over time. Your pain, conditioning, mobility and disability can worsen. In the worst cases, if left untreated, a spinal cord injury can progress to some level of paralysis.
Even if the physical issue does not progressively worsen, continued pain can increasingly decondition and debilitate you over time. Chronic pain wears people down in all parts of their life.
If you want to regain your health and ability to work, early medical evaluation is essential. I won’t bore you with medical studies but I’ve seen numerous studies that show poorer long-term outcomes when people delay care for serious injuries. Many conditions can easily be treated. When a bad boss delays your care, you are the one who ultimately may pay the price.
Delays In Treatment Decrease The Likelihood Your Doctors Can Support Your Claim
When people are hurt, they don’t really think about proving the injury in court. I get it. First, most people don’t think about court or don’t think they will ever need to go to court. That’s for lawyers to consider. But, this is a big issue. In workers’ compensation cases, the employer (and its insurance carrier) only have to pay for conditions caused by the accident. If the doctor cannot say the condition relates to the accident, the insurance company does not have to provide medical benefits.
I’ve seen plenty of cases where someone delayed weeks or months before getting needed medical evaluations. It’s a LOT more difficult for the doctor to say a specific accident caused a specific injury, when the person does not get needed care. This is true in all personal injury cases, whether it is work comp case or a car accident. When you wait to see a doctor, you are decreasing the odds your doctor will be able to support your claim.
Delays In Treatment Leave You With Medical Bills
Bad bosses and bad adjusters delay medical care to save themselves money. That’s the reason. They don’t want to incur medical costs. They are not looking out for you.
The problems is that injury and disability always have costs. They always have costs. It’s just a question of who pays them. Is it the company that is supposed to legally provide the benefits? Or, will it be you?
I’ve already mentioned how delays increase the likelihood of disability and increase the likelihood your doctor will not support you. If your doctor does not support your claim, then you will be left paying for the problem yourself. You will either be left paying for medical care or paying the other costs of disability.
Delays In Treatment Give Bad Employers A Chance To Avoid Paying For Any Disability
As I mentioned earlier, bad bosses avoid medical care to save money. Just by delaying care, they are increasing their chances of avoiding the medical costs in the long-run. Often, those delays help them avoid the additional costs of disability benefits as well.
I understand how this happens. After an injury, you hope it’s nothing major. So, it’s easy to wait and see. In some cases, you may also be afraid. Maybe you fear being fired if you ask for medical treatment. I’ve seen bad bosses. Those situations usually end badly whether or not you seek medical care.
If you are injured in a work-related accident, report the accident promptly to your employer. Request to see the doctor. If your boss delays care, take action. Your health is too important to risk for a boss who doesn’t care enough to provide the care you need.
From our office in Huntsville, we are accident and injury lawyers who represent people across Alabama. That’s all we do. We have appeared in courtrooms across the state to get our clients the maximum benefits possible. If you have questions about an Alabama personal injury issue, let us know. We are happy to answer your questions for free.