Q:

If I am injured at work what should I do?

A:

In order to preserve a workers compensation claim an injury at work must be reported to the employer within 180 days of the injury. However, it is best to report the injury to the employer as soon as possible. You should also seek medical care as soon as possible. Absent the need to go to a hospital for emergency care the employer has a right to send you to a doctor or medical clinic of their choice. If the employer has no designated medical care provider you are free to choose your own doctor.

Q:

Do I have to continue seeing the employer designated medical provider?

A:

After you have visited the employer designated medical care provider at least one time you have a right to change doctors by notifying your employer or their workers' compensation insurance carrier of that change and providing the new medical care provider contact information. This is a one time right to change doctors. It is most often advisable to exercise that right to change doctors after the first visit to the employer designated provider. Typically it would be best to choose your family doctor or some other general practitioner. If specialty care is needed the general practitioner can refer you to a specialist or various specialists as needed and a referral is not considered a “change” of doctor. If there are injuries to multiple parts of the body do not allow the medical providers to put off or ignore evaluation of every injury. Treatment for every injury as needed should be pursued unless there is a good medical reason to delay treatment.

Q:

When should I contact an attorney?

A:

Typically you do not need an attorney until the workers' compensation carrier has denied benefits. However, it would be wise early on to contact the Ben Davis Law Office for some basic advice and to ask any questions you may have about your specific case. At the Ben Davis Law Office, we provide workers compensation consultation and basic advice for free over the telephone. If you would like a free in-person consultation we can arrange for that as well. We can then maintain contact and address any basic concerns about your case. At the point that a dispute arises and workers compensation refuses benefits then you can hire the Ben Davis Law Office to pursue your workers' compensation claim.

Q:

If I am not working how much wage benefit should I receive?

A:

A wage benefit, or a benefit called Temporary Total Disability, is paid if the doctor takes you off work for your work injury or if the doctor indicates light duty work restrictions and your employer has no light duty work to offer you. This benefit should continue until the doctor indicates you can go back to your regular duty work, the doctor indicates you have reached medical stability or maximum medical improvement (you have reached a point of healing that you are not going to improve more than 3% in a year), or your employer offers light duty work within your doctor’s light duty restrictions. The benefit is 2/3s of wages from all the jobs you had on the date of the injury. This benefit is supposed to be able to take care of your needs because it is non-taxable.

Q:

What if my employer offers me light duty work beyond my doctor's restrictions?

A:

If you refuse light duty work offered by your employer you will not be entitled to Temporary Total Disability benefits. However, if your employer wants you to do work beyond your restrictions you may politely refuse to perform tasks beyond your restrictions. You alone are responsible for enforcing the restrictions. Doing work beyond your restrictions may delay healing or even cause further injury. If your employer fires you without good cause there is no recourse for you under the Workers Compensation system except for receiving Temporary Total Disability benefits.

Q:

What if the workers compensation carrier refuses medical care?

A:

If the workers' compensation carrier refuses medical care you should do all you can to pursue other avenues for your care. While you can file a claim to try and compel them to pay for medical care that often takes at least a year and sometimes more. It is very important that you continue seeing a doctor and following through with treatment recommendations. If you have access to health insurance, they should be willing to pay for medical care denied by the workers' compensation insurance carrier. Long periods without medical treatment and evaluation can be detrimental to your case.

Q:

What documentation should I obtain?

A:

In order to pursue a workers compensation claim that is being denied by the workers compensation carrier you need a written opinion from a medical provider (doctor or chiropractor) that you have an injury that was medically caused by your work activities or a work accident and a written indication of the treatment the medical provider recommends to treat the work injury. It is also helpful to have the doctor give a written indication of the dates you were medically taken off of work or put in light duty restrictions, an indication of whether and on what date you reached maximum medical improvement, the nature of your work restrictions, and if there is a permanent injury and you have reached maximum medical improvement, an impairment rating for your injury. There is a very helpful form titled “113b Summary of Medical Record” to have the doctor fill out (you must fill out your name, the date of injury, and the name of the employer). This form can be found at the Utah Labor Commission website at laborcommission.utah.gov under divisions–Adjudication–Forms.

You should also be gathering together all of your medical records from the work injury and any relevant medical records from the past.