You suffered a work-related accident and injury in Alabama? Afterwards, you asked for medical care. You need basic Alabama workers’ compensation benefits. But, your boss is trying to avoid reporting the accident or providing a doctor! You are getting the run-around!
Two of the biggest complaints I receive from workers hurt on-the-job are: (1) the boss won’t report it; and, (2) the boss won’t let me go to the doctor. These are basic issues. When a worker is hurt, the boss should report the claim to the insurance carrier. And, the employer (or its carrier) should provide a doctor. So often. these initial steps are not done. Many times, the boss tries to avoid reporting the accident or discourages medical care. When the boss gives you the run-around, you may pay the price later.
The Real Fraud — Bosses Who Refuse To Provide Basic Work Comp Benefits
A California farm company owner recently pled guilty to workers’ compensation fraud. The company provided harvesting services to local farms. That means, it employed lots of workers in difficult and dangerous jobs. What did the company owner do? First, he tried to prevent his injured workers from reporting work-related accidents and injuries. When they did, he intentionally lied to his own insurance carrier about events. He was committing fraud at the expense of vulnerable, injured workers. Fortunately, he was criminally prosecuted and recently pled guilty for his workers’ compensation fraud. Next month, he faces sentencing for these crimes.
Where is the fraud in our workers’ compensation system? It’s a question I answered in a prior post. Over 99% of the fraud in our system is committed by employers, insurers and health care managers. Think about that number. Think about the real sources of fraud. It’s not injured workers. Look at the flip side — Often, injured workers are victimized twice. First, they are hurt. Second, they face tremendous difficulty just obtaining basic benefits.
At our office, we regularly receive calls from injured workers victimized by bosses who refuse to report an accident or refuse to tell the truth to the carrier. When we catch these issues early, we can often help. Unfortunately, in some cases it’s too late.
Bosses Who Discourage Reports Or Treatment Can Harm Your Alabama Workers’ Compensation Claim
Let’s look at these two issues that often prevent injured workers from receiving needed work comp benefits. In both cases, you can suffer real harm if your injury turns out to be serious.
1. The Boss Won’t Report The Accident Or Injury
This is a constant issue. I’ve seen many ways bosses neglect to report the actual accident.
Maybe you suffered an accident but didn’t realize in the moment just how serious it is. You may have told the boss but you didn’t worry when he waited to prepare a written report. After all, you told him. You expected him to tell the truth later if the injury turned out to be serious. I can tell you this — Almost every time the injury turns out to be serious, the boss suddenly “cannot remember” the accident, the injury or your report.
Maybe you suffered an accident, immediately told the boss, and requested medical care. But, you didn’t immediately complete a written form. After all, you told him. You then waited for requested medical care. Days or weeks passed. Nothing happened. Later when you tried to insist on receiving care, the boss suddenly “could not remember” your accident.
Maybe you suffered an accident but the boss is difficult and implied he will fire you. Maybe you suffered an accident but the boss said he does not have work comp or that you are not entitled to work comp. Maybe you suffered an accident and the boss put you off because he “could not find” the needed form or said he would do it later. If you need help, HERE is a copy of the accident report form prepared by the State of Alabama. Complete and submit it.
I’ve heard all the stories. I’ve heard all of them many, many times. When you don’t report the accident promptly in writing you risk your claim. Even when you think you are OK following an accident, complete the written report. Often, delayed injuries can result in disabilities.
2. The Boss Discourages Medical Care
Just like reporting, bosses have many ways to discourage medical care. The most common is when a boss encourages you to simply wait and see how you do. Here is an example — You suffered an accident. You were shaken. In the moment, you didn’t know the extent of your injuries. But, you hoped you were OK. Maybe you thought you could rest, shake it off, or work it off. In many work comp and car accident cases, I’ve heard people say they thought they were OK in the initial moments following the accident. It’s common.
The example I just gave is one of many used by bosses on a local level. In recent years, some companies have even mastered the art of delaying or discouraging medical care through on-site nurses or clinics. I’ve written previously about some local northern Alabama poultry plants who seem to employ on-site nurses for just this purpose. In one case, a client of ours suffered pretty severe shoulder (rotator cuff) injuries. He reported the accident. He went to the plant nurse. In fact, he went repeatedly to the nurse for a couple months after the accident. Each time, he was given an aspirin and told he would be fine. He finally reached the point he could not lift his arms. He then insisted on medical care. But, his claim was denied. The chicken plant claimed he never reported the accident (because the nurse refused to document the event despite his report). He called us. We obtained the plant nurse’s records. As we suspected, the nurse completely failed to document the accident and noted with each visit the worker simply had “arthritic” problems. It was all a lie designed by the employer to build a record for use in denying a later claim. Like most of us, the worker trusted the nurse. Nurses should be trusted! But, the entire system was designed to discourage or prevent medical care. Fortunately, we were able to help him obtain necessary medical treatment and other work comp benefits.
In some of my prior posts, you can read about tactics a few large employers use to discourage or delay needed medical care. It’s wrong. Work comp benefits serve an important purpose for all workers.
Delay Hurts You!
I could write story-after-story about accidents where reporting or treatment was delayed. Sometimes, we can help callers. Sometimes, it’s too late. Those are difficult conversations.
Alabama law contains time requirements about reporting work-related accidents. When you don’t insist on a written report, you are placing your health into the hands of another person’s “memory” or “honesty.” Report your work-related accident in writing immediately.
Delayed medical care can cause a treatable or healable injury to become chronic. This can result in greater disability. Beyond that, delays make it more difficult for the doctors to be certain about the cause. It becomes harder for the doctor to conclude your condition relates back to the accident. Without medical support, you cannot prove your claim if needed.
In many ways, delays can harm you. It’s so important to (1) report the accident promptly in writing; and, (2) seek a medical examination as soon as possible. Your health, your work, and your claim, all depend upon it.
We help injured workers get the workers compensation benefits they need. From our office in Huntsville, we represent injured people and families across northern Alabama. Our consultations are always free and confidential. We are happy to answer your personal injury questions.