Have Bad Faith Claims Become the Norm? 4 Winning Tips for Injured Workers
Workers in America haven’t always had laws to protect them, but as the last century trudged on, American legislatures began to realize that an unprotected workforce was a danger to those within in.
This is why worker’s compensation laws came into existence. Employees who are injured during the course of their employment are entitled to medical benefits and compensation for lost time at work, but unfortunately, many insurance companies will do their best to deny workers the compensation that they fairly deserve.
What is Bad Faith?
When a worker is injured on the job, they are entitled to a certain amount of compensation. When insurers try to unfairly deny a worker these benefits, they are engaged in bad faith practices.
American insurers, including worker’s compensation providers, have a duty to act in good faith with those depending on them. This means that they’ll act fairly in providing an injured individual the benefits that they deserve. Unfortunately, this doesn’t always happen.
There are numerous ways that an insurance company can act in bad faith. If an insurer denies a claim that they know is legitimate, for instance, they’ve engaged in bad faith practices. Even stalling in an effort to affect the outcome of a worker’s comp claim can be considered bad faith. Sadly, recent cases have brought to light how common these practices are.
When insurers engage in bad faith and are caught, they often have to pay huge fines to the individual they wrongfully denied. One case involving Chartis insurance workers compensation claims regarding the Chartis Inc., a subsidiary of American International Group, ended with the company having to pay out $58 million due to their intentional and willful mishandling of a claim.
This means that those who are treated unfairly by insurers can recover much more than they were initially entitled to.
Since insurers will sometimes engage in bad faith practices, it’s imperative for an worker to do their best to ensure that the worker’s comp provider has no reason to deny a claim. This fortunately can be done in several ways.
1) Immediately Report Injury to Appropriate Personnel
Reporting an accident immediately is often a prerequisite of filing a worker’s compensation claim. In fact, if a worker waits too long to inform their employer, they may be ineligible for any benefits whatsoever.
2) Always Inform Doctors of Accident
Regardless of whether it’s one week after the accident or one year, any visit to the doctor related to the workplace injury should be explained as such. If an injured worker doesn’t inform a physician that their injury is work related, insurers may use these medical records in an effort to rescind benefits.
Worker’s compensation laws are what protect American workers, but when these laws are entrusted to corporations whose sole purpose is to turn a profit, it can be difficult for a worker to get a fair shake
3) Follow Doctor’s Orders
The goal of worker’s compensation is to help employees get back to their feet, and a worker who doesn’t follow their doctors orders won’t seem to be working towards this goal. Sadly, an insurer will jump on the tiniest of slip ups to try to avoid paying out fair compensation.
4) Hire an Attorney
Hiring an attorney is one of the best things that a worker can do after being injured on the job. When an attorney is involved, an insurer is less likely to unfairly deny a claim. If they do, however, a legal professional can file a bad faith claim and often get their client much more than they imagined.
Luckily, there are statutes in place to protect those who are injured on the job from insurance companies and employers who would deny them their rightful benefits.
While it may require the services of an attorney in the end, the compensation an individual receives due to a bad faith lawsuit will more than take care of the losses experienced when they were injured.
Jamica Bell is a freelance writer and small business owner who contributes this article to inform injured workers how to effectively resolve a bad faith claim. Doyle Raizner LLP is a Houston injury law firm that has litigated numerous Chartis insurance workers compensation claims on behalf of injured workers adversely affected by bad faith claims.
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