Filing a workers’ compensation claim can feel like climbing a mountain of paperwork. When you’re injured or recovering, the last thing you want to do is read a bunch of fine print. It’s tempting to sign whatever an insurance company puts in front of you to get the process underway. However, signing the wrong forms can damage your ability to take receive the benefits the law provides to you.
How Does Workers’ Compensation Insurance Work?
Most employers are required to provide workers’ compensation insurance for employees. While the specific processes vary by state, generally speaking, it works like this.
- An employee is injured or gets sick from exposure to something in the workplace. He or she may or may not seek immediate medical attention at that time.
- The employee notifies the employer of the injury or illness within the window of time allowed by the state. Sometimes this period can be as short as 24 hours after the injury.
- The employer files a claim with the workers’ compensation insurance carrier and the state agency designated to handle work comp matters, either the state’s Department of Labor or Workers’ Compensation Board.
- The insurance carrier should contact the employee within 30 days of receiving the claim. Most insurers ask the employee to sign a variety of documents related to the injury and the application. One of those forms is usually a release for medical records.
Should I Sign a Form to Release My Medical Records?
The insurance company will ask you to sign a document that allows access to your medical records. While you are required under the law to provide the insurer copies of medical records related to the injury, the files don’t have to come directly from your doctors. Rather than signing the form, you or your attorney can get copies of the documents and submit them to the insurer. The insurance company may pressure you to allow them direct access. However, signing the form gives the insurer access to all of your records, not just the ones related to your current injury, and you have a right to privacy.
What Forms Should I Sign?
The best way to protect your interests is to decline signing any forms until you’ve spoken to an attorney. However, you have a small window of time to process your claim, so you should contact a workers compensation attorney Brooklyn residents rely on as early in the process as possible. Choose a professional who is experienced and knowledgeable of the laws in your jurisdiction.
Thanks to Polsky, Shouldice & Rosen, P.C. for their insight into workers’ compensation and what forms to sign.