Workers' compensation is designed to protect you from the cost of injuries incurred at work. However, in some case, your claim may be denied. Luckily, you can appeal when that happens. Here are some tips to keep in mind if your application has been denied.
1. Check for Errors
In some cases, denials happen due to administrative issues or errors. If that's true for your case, these errors may be easy to fix.
2. Don't Delay Your Appeal
When it comes to appeals, you have a very small window of time. According to the Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development, you have only 15 days to submit an appeal.
There is also a statute of limitations for making a workers’ compensation claim in general. In Tennessee, you generally have about a year from the date the injury occurred, but there can be some exceptions. If you have missed a deadline, an attorney may be able to argue to the court that there was a compelling reason and that missing the deadline was unavoidable.
3. Gather Proof Related to Your Rejection
Whether you are reaching out to legal counsel or handling your appeal on your own, you should spend some time gathering information to back up your appeal. Your denial letter should explain the reason for the rejection, you can use this information to determine what you need to fix and focus on that.
For instance, if the letter says that the injury was not work related, you may want to find coworkers who witnessed the injury and are willing to make a statement. You may also want to get additional medical records.
All kinds of information can be useful in an appeal. You may want to track every conversation you have with your employer and with anyone related to the case. That information can help your lawyer through the appeal's process.
4. Look into Mediation
The Bureau of Workers’ Compensation has a mediation program, which can be helpful if you can’t come to an agreement with your employer. However, it’s important to note that the program only applies to cases after 2014.
5. Remember You Cannot Be Dismissed for Filing for Workers’ Compensation
Some employees are scared their employment will be terminated if they make a workers’ compensation claim. Often when a claim has been rejected, employees are reluctant to appeal for the same reason or if they're afraid their boss will retaliate in another way.
Keep in mind that you are legally entitled to submit workers’ compensation claims and appeals. It is illegal for your boss to fire or demote you for such claims. If you have been wrongfully dismissed, you can bring a suit against your boss.
6. Consider Taking Your Employer to Court for Pain and Suffering If Applicable
While workers’ compensation is designed to protect employees, it also protects employers. In particular, when employers provide workers’ compensation insurance for their employees, the employers are typically protected from other lawsuits employees may attempt to file.
However, there are exceptions to this rule. Namely, if your employer was complicit in the injury or if it was directly caused by employer negligence, it may be possible to bring forward a suit. If you believe that your boss somehow caused the injury either directly or indirectly, it may be possible to take the issue further. In these situations, the case shifts from a workers’ compensation claim to an injury claim.
Contact the Law Offices of Jeffrey A. Garrety, P.C. today so we can help you appeal the denial of your workers' compensation claim, or help you begin the process of filing for compensation.