If you get hurt at work, your employer’s workers’ compensation insurance company is supposed to provide you with certain benefits while you recover from your injury. Unfortunately, many insurance companies will do whatever they can to minimize those benefits.
Read on to learn about some insurance adjuster tricks that are commonly used to reduce your claim and how you can protect your rights.
What is an insurance adjuster, and what do they do?
After an injured worker files a workers’ compensation claim, the workers’ comp insurance company hires an adjuster to review the claim and investigate the amount of damages the insurer needs to pay.
An adjuster will review your claim and look at your medical records. They’ll also speak to you, witnesses and your employer to gather evidence about your case. The adjuster then uses that information to determine the amount of money you’ll receive for your claim.
What tactics do insurance adjusters use to reduce or deny workers’ comp claims?
While most injured workers have a right to workers’ compensation benefits to cover medical bills, lost income, and other related expenses, the job of an insurance adjuster is to save money for the insurance company.
So it’s important to remember that regardless of their seemingly friendly and helpful demeanor, the adjuster is not on your side. Following are some common ways adjusters try to mislead you and reduce or deny your workers’ comp claim.
Pressure you to record a statement
When an adjuster begins investigating your claim, they often ask you to record a statement about the incident. The adjuster might ask for your statement very soon after the accident before you’ve even had a chance to process what has happened.
It’s not uncommon to have trouble remembering all the relevant details of an accident while you’re in pain, on pain medication, or otherwise healing from your injuries. If you give a recorded statement during this time, the adjuster could use any missing details or conflicting information against you later.
Because of this, you should never provide a recorded statement to an insurance adjuster before speaking to an experienced workers’ comp attorney.
Go silent if you’re terminated from your job
Sadly, when you’re at your most vulnerable, your employer may fire you because you can no longer perform the work at your current job. This situation can occur regardless of if you weren’t working at all or if you were working a light-duty job while recovering.
An adjuster may not directly cause your termination, but they won’t inform you that you’re still eligible for benefits afterward, either. This is a complex situation, and it’s crucial that you speak with an attorney if you find yourself in this position.
Take advantage of you with a light-duty temporary job
Depending on your injury, your doctor may clear you to do a light-duty job while you recover. The insurance adjuster will usually require you to take on such work to reduce the benefits they need to pay you and deny your claim if you refuse.
Oftentimes, the light-duty job is only a temporary one that may end before you’ve fully recovered. If that’s the case, you could still be eligible for benefits when the position ends, but the adjuster likely will not inform you of this fact.
It’s also not uncommon for employers to pressure light-duty workers to return to their regular job before their doctor has cleared them to do so. This is why you should always talk to an attorney before accepting any change in your work duties.
Give you a “light-duty” job that’s not light-duty
Some employers may set you up to fail by giving you a “light-duty” job that is too strenuous, and the adjuster may play along. In some cases, you might be assigned to stand or sit all day without doing any actual work in an attempt to force you to quit.
What’s more, depending on the situation, your workers’ comp benefits may be reduced or stopped after you accept this light-duty work. If you return to work and find the job is too demanding, it’s important that you speak to a workers’ compensation attorney before you decide to stop showing up to work.
Make a quick settlement offer
While getting a quick settlement may seem like a good thing, insurance adjusters often pressure injured workers into taking a quick settlement to keep the settlement offer as low as possible. You should be aware that any settlement offer is only a starting point, and an insurance adjuster has no motivation to offer you the maximum compensation to which you’re entitled.
Be aware that once you accept a settlement offer, you can’t go back later and request more money if you discover your injury is more severe than you originally thought. This is why it’s always wise to speak with a workers’ comp attorney who can give you an idea of how much your injury may be worth before accepting any settlement from an insurance adjuster.
Contact an experienced workers’ comp attorney to help with your claim
Despite these workers’ comp adjuster tricks, the fact remains that injured workers have a right to fair compensation after a work injury. Unfortunately, workers’ compensation claims can be very complex, and adjusters often use this to their advantage.
If you were injured at work and find that your claim is being treated unjustly or is denied altogether, you need to speak to a knowledgeable workers’ compensation attorney who can protect your rights. What’s more, your attorney can handle all communications and negotiations with your employer and the insurance company so you can focus on recovering from your injury.