Having an injury, no matter where it occurred, can be devastating. If your injury is covered by workers' comp, you can rest assured that benefits are coming your way, if your claim is approved. In some cases, your injury is more severe or you don't ever completely heal from it. Dealing with the details of claim forms and getting medical care can be confusing, but it could help your peace of mind to understand how the process is supposed to work. Read on to learn more about the workers' comp process and how it deals with permanent injuries in 4 simple steps.
1. Your initial benefits: All covered injuries receive the same benefits from workers' comp in the first stages. You are entitled to have all of your medical treatments covered and you will also receive a certain portion of your salary to stay home and get better. During this time, you must follow your doctor's orders, take prescribed medications, and continue to do so until you are released. Failing to attend to your medical care could make it appear that your injury has healed enough for you to return to work.
2. A special exam: Permanent injuries won't get much better, so at some point the workers' comp insurance carrier will ask you to undergo a special kind of medical exam, the independent medical exam. This exam is performed by a workers' compensation doctor and will cost you nothing. The results of the exam will determine whether you have healed enough to return to work, whether you need a bit more time to heal or whether your injury is not going to further improve.
3. A permanent injury: If no further healing is expected, you are left with a ruling called maximum medical improvement. This ruling means that you are actually permanently disabled. It doesn't mean, however, that you don't need continuing medical treatment. Your claim now moves into a new phase.
4. A settlement is offered: In many cases, claims progress to this point without any issues, and the need to get professional legal representation for your workers' comp claim is not considered. Settlement negotiations, however, are best left to a workers compensation attorney. You must gain enough money from this settlement to see you through the remainder of your working years, and the amount of money and the manner the funds are disbursed are key details. The way your settlement is organized could impact your ability to draw Social Security disability benefits, so this issue can be incredibly complicated and yet so vital to your future.