If you've just started a new job and are researching your state's worker's compensation laws, you have a great opportunity to start protecting yourself now in case you ever need to file a worker's compensation claim. Many people don't realize that the claim isn't decided on just the location or cause of the injury -- your behavior before and after the injury plays into the outcome as well. Here are three steps to take now (and to keep taking) to help increase your chances of getting maximum worker's compensation payouts.
Avoid Intoxicants -- for as Long as Necessary
It should be common sense that you don't show up to work drugged or drunk, but you'd be surprised at how often someone will show up with drugs or alcohol in their system. Even if the amount is not enough to really affect how the person behaves or reacts at work, it can still show up on a drug test or blood alcohol test. If you get injured on the job, you may have to take a blood alcohol or drug test, and a positive reading can severely damage your case. You are better off avoiding alcohol, even small amounts, during the work week, and avoiding drugs entirely, especially if you work in an industry where there is a high risk of injury.
Choose Your Own Doctor as Soon as You Can
If you are injured on the job, there is a good chance that your employer will want you to see a doctor of their choosing. On one hand, refusing to see this doctor could make your case weak -- you could be seen as uncooperative -- but on the other hand, this doctor might be more likely to side with the employer about whether or not you're as injured as you say. For this reason, it's imperative that you have your own doctor with whom you can make an appointment as well. You need someone you can trust, and that means finding a doctor of your own as soon as you become eligible for health insurance at your job (assuming you don't already have a doctor you trust). If you have to search around and try seeing unknown doctors after your injury, you'll have no idea whether that doctor is good or not.
Keep Records of Issues
Some injuries creep up on you, rather than occurring suddenly. Carpal tunnel syndrome, for example, can take some time to build up and get worse. Start logging any odd health issues you notice when you first notice them. Don't shrug them off or try to remember them months later when something happens. Keep a written record so that you have something to show about when and how your symptoms first appeared.
It's vital to talk to a good lawyer, too, when dealing with worker's compensation. He or she can help you get through the paperwork and court, if the case heads that way. Talk to a local lawyer or visit one's website to read more.