WATCH OUT FOR THESE EMPLOYER TRICKS:
Most employers are concerned about the injured worker and will make sure that all benefits are provided. There are some employers and insurance companies who will try all kinds of tricks to keep from paying workers’ compensation.
WATCH WHAT YOU SAY AND WHAT YOU PUT DOWN ON FORMS.
You should be careful what you tell others about your accident or what you put down on insurance forms. Many times workers have credit disability insurance to make payment on loans or car payment while a worker is off work. When filling out those forms make sure that you put down that your injury occurred on the job.
Employers will use copies of these forms against you if you do not make it clear the injury was work related.
If you have to fill out forms at the doctor’s office be sure to put down the correct date and that the injury was work related.
One of the strategies employers use is to hire a private investigator to spy on the injured worker and film what they see. An investigator will sit a block away in a van with smoked glass windows and will tape everything that goes on at the injured worker’s home. For example, the investigator will follow the worker to the grocery store to see if the worker can be filmed carrying groceries to the car.
The investigator will talk to neighbors, landlords and co-workers to find out what activities the injured worker is doing.
The investigator will try to show that the injured worker is doing some work for someone or that the injured worker is working around the house. The insurance company will then use the film and the testimony of the investigator to beat the worker out of workers’ compensation benefits.
The best word of advice is to watch what you do.
Many employers will try to get out of paying workers’ compensation by claiming the injured worker is a private contractor. We see a lot of this in the trucking industry. In most cases the worker is a true employee and not a contractor. The key test is the control the employer has over what you do, how you do it, and when you do it.
DON’T BE AFRAID TO SPEAK UP!
An employer cannot discharge you because you asked for workers’ compensation. Some employers have had to pay hundreds of thousand of dollars for firing an injured worker because they applied for workers’ compensation. This is called a retaliatory discharge.
YOUR PERSONNEL FILE
Under Iowa law you have a right to have copies of your personnel file. You should send the employer a certified letter asking for the file. Once you receive the file be sure and do a inventory of the same and send the employer a list of the documents that your were provided. Tell the employer that, if there are more documents, send them otherwise the documents on the list are all there are.
INDEPENDENT MEDICAL EXAM
Iowa law provides that you have the right to have an independent medical examination by a doctor of your choice under certain conditions. If a doctor selected by the employer has given you an impairment rating that you feel is too low you have a right to have an evaluation by a doctor of your choice. In some cases you might have to petition the Iowa Workers’ Compensation Commissioner to order the examination. The employer has to pay all the costs of the exam plus mileage.
You should be real careful about how you handle this matter. There are some employers who will trick you into seeing a second doctor of their choice for your independent evaluation. In such cases the employer will have you sign a form acknowledging that you understand this is your second opinion.
Not only should the doctor be of your choice but you or your lawyer should make the arrangements. You should let the doctor know that you have selected him or her to do your evaluation.
The doctor should be given all the relevant medical records including test results. You must give the doctor a complete and correct medical history. Otherwise the report will be of little value. You should let the doctor know what you need from him or her.