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4 Workers' Compensation Claim Mistakes Construction Workers Make

by Rick Mcguinness

The construction industry is fraught with risks and hazards, so it's unsurprising that thousands of workers suffer serious injuries in the United States every year. In fact, construction is the most dangerous industry in America and accounts for 20 percent of all work-related fatalities. If you suffer an injury while working in the construction industry, workers' compensation insurance is there to help you cope with the costs of any medical treatment or time off work, but some workers fail to realize the benefits of their insurance policies. Find out why some construction workers miss out on compensation claims with these four common errors.

1. They wrongly assume that they can't claim if they don't have time off work.

Not every work-related injury will lead to time off work. While broken bones may lead to hospitalization and a long recovery period, other injuries may mean that you can return to work immediately, even if this causes discomfort. For example, a cut or laceration from a defective tool may not mean you need to take time off work, but you may still have to go to a hospital for treatment.

Workers' compensation insurance isn't just there to compensate you for time off work. If you need medical treatment for an injury, you can still file a claim to cover the cost, even if you don't take any time off. Associated costs can include prescription medication and medical supplies and even the cost of mileage and parking for your hospital visit.

2. They don't report their injury to their boss.

The range of possible injuries on a construction site is significant. For example, a minor burn from a hazardous substance may cause some discomfort, but some workers would put this sort of thing down to the job. Unfortunately, some of these minor injuries can rapidly turn into something far more serious. For example, left untreated, that aforementioned burn could develop into a nasty infection.

Similarly, some people don't report injuries that they cannot pinpoint to a specific incident at work. For example, you may wake up with severe back or shoulder pain, but if you don't remember anything you did to cause the problem at work, you may decide not to file a report.

In all cases, you must always report your injury (or symptoms) to your employer. If an investigation later shows that the injury is work-related, you may struggle to claim your compensation if there is no official report to your employer. By filing a report, you don't commit yourself to making a claim, but you cannot make a claim if you didn't file a report.

3. They only report the injury to their doctor

Prompt medical attention is essential after any injury at work, but don't assume that attending a doctor's appointment is all you need to do to file a workers' compensation claim. It's your doctor's job to help you recover, but he or she is not responsible for your insurance claim, so you must always report the injury to your employer.

Of course, when you suffer an accident on a construction site, you may have several witnesses and colleagues to corroborate your story. Nonetheless, without an official report to your employer, their evidence is useless. Report the accident as soon as you can. In most states, you have a limited period in which you can file a claim.

4. They don't file a claim because they believe their health insurance will cover the cost

Health insurance is a great benefit to have, but this type of coverage is generally not as comprehensive as workers' compensation insurance, which means you could end up out of pocket. Health insurance won't cover disability benefits if your accident means you have to have time off work. According to one study, the estimated lifetime loss per construction days-away case is 115 days. If you have 115 days off work, health insurance will not pay the cost of your lost wages.

Health insurance can leave you out of pocket in other ways, too. For example, you'll probably have to pay a deductible or co-pay towards the cost of your treatment. Health insurance policies also have coverage limits, which may mean you can only claim a certain amount towards your treatment.

Workers' compensation insurance supports construction workers who suffer work-related injuries. Talk to your employer or services like Tailored Solutions for more advice or information about the policy that protects you at work.