During my career I have seen many people who had very real and very serious work injuries make their cases unnecessarily difficult. Here is a list of some of the most common problems that I have seen.
- Denying activities you actually perform outside of work. In most workers’ compensation cases, and especially for cumulative trauma cases, the insurance company will interview the Claimant. One of the standard areas of questioning is about what type of activities a worker engages in outside of employment. Sometimes an injured worker will deny that they have a second job, or that they regularly chop their own firewood because they are worried that the claim will be denied based on these other activities. An insurance company might deny a claim in which they are told the worker has a second job, but the worker still has a good chance to win at trial. However, a worker who denied a second job or a strenuous hobby is going to be facing an uphill battle when the insurance company discovers the truth. Believe me, the truth always comes out.
- Denying preexisting conditions or past injuries. Similarly, a worker with a shoulder injury might answer interview questions about a past shoulder injury or treatment with a false denial. The fact that a worker has a preexisting problem is not a work comp defense. If the employment substantially aggravates the preexisting condition, then the employer and insurance company are responsible for the injury. However, denying the preexisting problem makes it easier for the insurance company to convince a work comp judge that the complaint is actually based on the preexisting problem.
- Exaggerating or lying about symptoms. Doctors and medical testing can often detect exaggeration and lies. Being caught in exaggerating and lying about symptoms is another way of hurting your claim.
- Covering up details of the accident. Sometimes a claimant will decide not to share details of their injury that they think make them look responsible for their own injury or make them look foolish in some way. In Iowa workers’ compensation cases it is not a defense if the workers’ own actions contributed to his injuries. Additionally, this is another example of where lying about one area is going to lead the work comp judge to conclude that you were lying about other parts of the case.
- Running down your employer. Sometimes it is very natural to have negative feelings about your employer after a work injury. However, it is best to keep that unhappiness to yourself. Telling doctors and adjusters about your unhappiness with your employer helps support the defense argument that your injuries are not very serious, and you are exaggerating them because of your unhappiness with your employer.
- Not cooperating with your medical care providers. Missing appointments and not following instructions will become part of a defense argument that the claimant really was not hurt since they are not following up on medical care requirements.
- Being rude to anyone in the system. Being injured at work can be very stressful. The workers’ compensation process is certainly slow and annoying. However, be polite to everyone you deal with. Everyone is busy. Do not make people mad and motivate them to try to find some extra time to disprove your claim.