What documentation is needed to bolster workers’ compensation claims?

Keeping copies of the records and documentation related to their work-related injuries may help people to strengthen their workers’ compensation claims.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 97 workers were killed on the job in Wisconsin in 2014 and many more suffered occupational injuries. Generally, people who are injured in the workplace are entitled to workers' compensation benefits. Sometimes, however, their claims are denied.

Important documentation for workers' compensation claims

When people dispute a claim denial, they may pursue the matter through an appeal. According to the State of Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development, such cases are initially referred to the Division of Workers' Compensation's alternative dispute resolution unit. If the matter cannot be resolved at this level, injured workers may request a hearing with an administrative law judge. Finally, if people who have suffered occupational injuries still believe the decision to deny them benefits is incorrect, they may appeal to the Labor and Industry Review Commission.

At each state of the appeals process, it is important for injured workers to have documentation to strengthen their cases. This may include medical records; a personal diary; and letters from family members, friends and co-workers.

Retain medical records

The decision regarding whether or not to award workers' compensation benefits are largely based on the opinions and diagnosis of qualified physicians. Therefore, it is recommended for injured workers to keep copies of all of the medical documents relating to their conditions. Doctors' office notes, procedure reports and test results provide the pertinent medical information and may be useful in showing the physical impact and severity of their injury. Further, this type of documentation provides the professional opinions of the medical professionals who have been involved in an injured worker's treatment.

Keep a personal injury diary

Sometimes, the effects of work-related injuries are difficult to quantify. This includes pain, psychological issues, and lifestyle adjustments or limitations. Through a personal diary, injured workers may put into words these effects that are otherwise internal. In their injury diaries, people who sustain occupational injuries should meticulously detail their pain, the medications they have taken and any resulting side effects, the activities and tasks they can no longer perform because of their injuries, and any other information regarding how their injuries have affected their lives.

Get letters from family and friends

Much like a personal diary, letters from family members and friends can provide insight into how people are impacted by their workplace injuries. This includes discussing the adjustments they have been forced to make to their daily lives. Letters from co-workers may also prove useful when appealing workers' compensation denials. The co-workers of people who are injured on the job are able to directly address how their occupational injuries affect their job and the associated duties.

Seeking legal representation

When injured workers have their Wisconsin workers' compensation claims denied, it may make an already difficult situation all the more challenging. Navigating the process may be confusing and often takes their focus off of their recoveries. Therefore, people who have sustained work-related injuries may benefit from obtaining legal representation. An attorney may help them understand what documentation is needed, complete the necessary forms and pursue the benefits they are entitled to receive.