Almost all employers in Baton Rouge and elsewhere in Louisiana must have workers’ compensation insurance. This no-fault system is designed to compensate injured or ill workers for lost wages, medical bills, and permanent impairments. It covers both traumatic injuries and occupational diseases that happen in the course of employment. Traumatic injuries result from one-off accidents like a slip and fall. Meanwhile, occupational diseases are illnesses or injuries that develop over time. These include repetitive stress injuries and cancer.
Generally, if you suffered injuries during your break or on your way to work, your injuries may not be compensable. That being said, workers don’t automatically get compensation if they get injured at work. To receive benefits, you must follow the process required under the law. If you don’t file your claim correctly, you may not get compensation. This can happen even if you were genuinely injured in the course of work.
If your claim gets denied or you don’t get adequate benefits, you must seek legal advice. You should discuss your case with an experienced Louisiana workers’ compensation attorney. Let’s look at the process that needs to be followed if you suffer a workplace injury or illness.
You Must Report Your Injury to Your Employer
You must notify your employer right away if you suffer an injury at work or while performing your duties off-site. This may mean telling a supervisor, foreman or manager depending on the structure of your workplace. You have to notify your employer within 30 days of discovering your injury. If you fail to do so, you could lose your right to get workers’ compensation benefits. Your report needs to include:
- Your name and contact details
- The time and date of the injury
- The location of the accident
- How the injury occurred
- Where on your body the injury happened
Your Employer Must File the Claim
Within ten days of receiving your injury notice, your employer must file a First Report of Injury form with their insurer. The insurer should then notify the Office of Workers’ Compensation Administration about the claim. This office will determine whether you are eligible for workers’ comp benefits and investigate your claim. They will review your:
- Medical records and history
- Work history, education, and wages
- Functional capacity evaluation
Once the OWCA has made a decision, your employer’s insurer must either approve or deny your claim in a timely manner. To ensure you’re being treated fairly, you should work with a Baton Rouge workers’ comp attorney.
Follow the Rules for Getting Medical Treatment
Injured workers in Louisiana are allowed to choose their own doctors. However, you can’t switch doctors without getting the approval of the OWCA or your employer’s insurer. If you neglect to get this approval, your medical bills may not be covered by your benefits.
If there are differing medical opinions about your injury or ability to work, the OWCA may request an independent evaluation. You may be asked to undergo a physical exam or have your medical records reviewed by their medical examiner. Your employer’s insurer will have to foot this cost.
File a Dispute if Your Claim is Denied
You can appeal the OWCA’s decision if your Louisiana workers’ comp claim is denied. However, you need to ensure you do so within the required time frame. For medical claims, you must appeal within:
- One year of becoming ill or injured; or
- Three years of your last benefits payment
For claims for lost wages, you should appeal within one year of:
- The date you were injured; or
- When you received compensation for partial lost wages benefits
Before starting the legal process, you have the option of requesting a mediation conference to work through the issues. After you file a Disputed Claim for Compensation form, you will either agree to a settlement or have a judge hear your case. The burden will be on you to prove you suffered a work-related injury.
Your workers’ comp attorney will draw on a range of evidence to support your case. This may include testimony from expert witnesses like health care providers. The assistance of an experienced lawyer is invaluable when you want to secure the benefits you deserve.
Contact the Team at Bart Bernard Injury Lawyers Today to Discuss Your Case
If you need help in filing your workers’ compensation claim or dispute, contact an experienced Louisiana workers’ compensation lawyer. The attorneys at Bart Bernard Injury Lawyers have helped several injured workers get the benefits they deserve. Contact us today to schedule a consultation with a member of our team.