1. Going along with bad medical care
You don’t have to accept substandard medical care just because you were injured at work. It is hard to correct a botched surgery. If you feel reluctant or have a gut feeling that the surgeon the insurer has assigned to you isn’t very good or isn’t listening to you, change doctors. You have the absolute right within the first 90 days of your claim to change to a different doctor on the insurer’s provider list. And even after the first 90 days, you may still request a different doctor. Make your request for the provider list in writing, and make your request to change doctors in writing.
2. Getting unreliable information about the claims process
Instead of relying on friends and co-workers to educate yourself about the Nevada claims process, why not read the blog posts I’ve written on almost every topic concerning Nevada workers’ compensation claims? If you want to research the law yourself, in addition to reading the statutes (NRS 616 and 617), and the regulations (NAC 616-617), you must be familiar with Nevada Supreme Court decisions interpreting the law. You must also know about the actual practice of the hearings and appeals officers to have some idea of what appeals officers, the district court judges, and Nevada Supreme Court justices are likely to do in your case. Take advantage of a free consultation with a reputable attorney.
3. Accepting a PPD award when you want more medical treatment
Even if you don’t elect to receive your permanent partial disability (PPD) award in a lump sum, and the insurer is paying your PPD award in installments, you must appeal claim closure if you want more medical treatment. First ask the adjuster whether he or she will allow you to return to the last treating doctor for more treatment. If not, then go to any rating exam the insurer schedules so that your benefits aren’t suspended. Also, you must file an appeal. You will have to get a report from your private physician to show the hearings officer that you need treatment. Don’t wait, thinking that you can easily reopen your claim later. It’s hard to reopen claims.
4. Waiting to add other injured body parts
Remember that you can’t reopen a claim to get treatment for an injured body part if it was never accepted before the claim was closed. If your claim acceptance letter only references some of your injuries, notify the adjuster in writing. Ask the adjuster to at least allow your doctor to examine your other injuries before the adjuster outright denies these injuries to other body parts. File an appeal on time (within 70 days) of any letter the adjuster sends denying injuries to other body parts. You may also need to go to your own doctor using your health insurance if other injured body parts are denied.
5. Not planning for your vocational future
Be realistic and honest with yourself and your doctor when discussing whether you are going to be able to return to your job at a later date. If you know or think you might not be able to return to your usual occupation, try to find out now whether your employer is likely to offer you a permanent modified job or not. If you or a family member is dependent on the health insurance your employer provides, then you must start being creative and persistent now in persuading your employer to keep you despite any permanent physical work restrictions. Your employer does not have to find you permanent light duty work. Alternatively, start thinking about retraining programs and start visiting schools that have 9 to 18-month vocational programs.