One of the most crucial steps that you need to do to get your workers comp benefits is proving your injury. Unfortunately, most of the time, this is easier said than done.
To prove that you qualify for workers comp, you must prove two things: your injury is work-related and you can’t work or at least do the work you used to do before your injury.
Remember that our workers comp system is designed to help injured workers make ends meet while they’re recovering. So if there’s doubt about your injury or your capacity to work, it can affect your claim.
Besides, it’s not a secret that insurance companies will exploit any loopholes just to avoid paying benefits. If they see that you’re having a hard time proving your injury, they’ll use it to argue that you are not eligible for benefits.
But no worries. That’s what this post is about. If you’re in the middle of a workers comp battle, here’s how to prove you can’t work and that your injury is work-related.
How to Prove You Can’t Work
Workers compensation offers both medical benefits and wage loss reimbursement. In Florida, you’ll only be paid lost wages if you’re out of work over 21 days. However, you must prove that you can’t go to work because your disability prevents you from doing so.
There are several ways to prove you can’t work during a workers comp hearing. But the most surefire ways to do so are to:
1. Prove to your doctor that your injury prevents you from working
The most crucial opportunity to prove to your doctor that you’re incapable of working will come during your independent medical examination (IME).
You see, when there’s disagreement in a workers comp case, the insurance provider will usually order an IME. The results of the IME will typically be used by the judge to decide whether or not to grant you the benefits.
During your IME, the doctor will review your medical records like x-rays, CT scans, MRI reports, and lab test results to determine the extent of your injury. They may also confer with your treating doctor and conduct patient interviews.
To determine your work restrictions, the doctor may also ask you to do simple tasks like picking up something on the floor or going down several flights of stairs. These tasks will vary depending on your injury and the nature of your work.
Remember that the goal here is to show your IME doctor that your injury indeed limits your capacity to work or perform any type of work. But remember that IME doctors are on the insurance provider’s payroll. Meaning, they will most likely put the insurance company’s interests over yours. So don’t expect to have it easy.
2. Gather evidence to support your claim
Aside from proving your disability to your doctor, you also need to gather evidence to support your claim of not being able to work. Some of the most compelling evidence you can present are:
- Medical records. Your doctor’s records will be really useful if you’re trying to prove that you can’t work. It will record the extent of your injuries as well as any medical conditions that your injury may have made worse.
- Expert testimonies. Aside from your treating doctor’s testimony, you can also present sworn statements from medical experts whose specializations are related to your injury. For instance, if you hurt your spine, a testimony from an orthopedic spine doctor supporting your claim will boost your case.
- Evidence of lost wages. Your pre-injury payrolls will prove how much income you’re losing as a result of your condition.
- Documents showing your job search. If there’s been an attempt to find another work on your part, you should show it to the judge. This will tell them that you want to work but your condition prevents you from doing so.
3. Prove to the judge that you cannot work during the workers comp hearing
Workers comp hearings usually involve a cross-examination. During which, you will be asked to testify at the witness stand. Lawyers from both parties will ask you questions like:
- how you got injured
- your symptoms
- what tasks you can and cannot do
- the type of work you used to do before the injury
- your training and education
- any attempts to return to work
Regardless of who is asking the questions, remember to answer truthfully and politely. Aside from determining your injury, the judge is also trying to assess your credibility. So sarcastic remarks and rude behavior will obviously not help your case. If you don’t know the answer, just say you don’t know or you don’t remember. Don’t try to guess as it may backfire on you later on.
How to Prove Your Injury is Work-Related
Florida’s workers comp system follows a no-fault policy. Meaning, you’re entitled to benefits regardless of whoever is responsible for your injury. However, you’ll still need to prove that your injury is work-related.
To do this, you’ll need to provide the court with clear and convincing evidence like:
- Witness statements. Having sworn statements from people who saw the accident and can prove that it happened at work will boost your case.
- Security footage. If your workplace has security cameras, a security footage of the accident could be one of the best pieces of evidence for your case.
- Injury report. Also called an incident report, this document is usually prepared by the employer when an accident happens at work that results in harm to an employee. If your employer prepared this, then that just proves that your injury is work-related.
Should You Hire a Workers Comp Lawyer?
Though you are not legally required to hire a workers comp lawyer, having one will definitely be a huge help. Experienced workers comp attorneys can help you gather evidence and prove to the judge that you can’t work and that your injury is work-related. He has already helped thousands of injured workers in Florida fight for their rights. He can help you get the benefits you deserve too. Contact us now for a free consultation.
VICTOR MALCA – Florida Workers Compensation & Social Security Disability Attorney
Victor Malca P.A. has over 27 years of litigation experience in Workers Compensation and Social Security Disability lawsuits. His experience and continued success when fighting for his clients puts him among the most trusted workers’ compensation attorney’s in Florida. He specializes in representing injured workers on compensation benefit cases and disabled individuals claiming lost social security disability benefits.
Book a free consultation today. Our unwavering advocacy for employee rights and privileges are recognized by our past clients across South Florida.
About The Author
Judy Ponio is a writer and editor for the Victor Malca Law P.A. website and blog. She enjoys helping people in need with questions about social security disability and workers compensation law. She has a passion for helping those in need and the elderly with accurate legal information that can make a positive difference in their lives.