When you file an on-the-job claim in Oregon, the workers’ compensation carrier can require that you give a recorded statement. There are a lot of things to know before you go into give a statement. This article gives you some important tips to ensure that you avoid the fatal mistakes that can kill your claim.
Before we get into the rules of the road, keep in mind that the insurance company has a lot of other tools at its disposal to investigate your claim. Many insurance companies routinely run your name through a “claim Index.” A claim Index is a data base that will alert the insurance company to any prior injury or disability claims. This includes auto injury claims, or prior workers’ compensation claims. Insurance companies really want to know if you have similar prior injuries.
Insurance companies also have the ability to obtain your medical records without your knowledge. Many insurance companies will also obtain medical records for treatment prior to her injury. Again, insurance companies are always looking for some evidence that you had a prior medical problem in an effort to avoid responsibility for your claim. The insurance adjuster is allowed to speak directly with your physician at any point after you file your claim.
Some insurance companies will send an investigator to talk to supervisors or coworkers to see if anyone doubts the validity of your claim.
We tell our clients that in some ways, the insurance adjuster or investigator will know more about you than you know about you. Some questions are merely designed to see if you are being forthright about your injury and your medical history.
Here are some rules to keep in mind when preparing for your statement:
Tell The Truth
Giving false information is guaranteed to kill your claim more than anything else. Again, you have to realize that your statement is one layer of information in the claim investigation process. In addition to all the investigative tools we are dimensioned, insurance companies will sometimes hire a private investigator to check into your background, and even following around with a video camera.
Listen To The Whole Question
This sounds basic, but it is sometimes hard to do. Sometimes clients are nervous going into a statement, and will cut off the questioner and blurt out the answer before listening to the whole question. The problem is that you may be answering one question, and the investigator may be asking another. Also, the statements are often put into writing, and that written interview, called a "transcript," may end up in front of an Administrative Law Judge at a hearing. A transcript of two people talking over each other is confusing, and confusion only helps the insurance company.
Make Sure You Understand The Question
Again, giving a recorded statement can be stressful, and at the risk of embarrassment, people sometimes answer questions they really do not understand. The interviewer is going to assume that you understood a question if you answered it, so if you do not understand, just ask the interviewer to re-phrase the question. It's no big deal.
This is probably the biggest problem that we see with giving statements and sworn testimony. Thinking that they are being tested, some people will give an answer just for the sake of giving an answer.
This is not a test, and you will not be punished if you do not know the answer to a question. Again, Rule Number One governs, which means that if you do not know the answer, you must state that you simply do not know. If you do not remember something, then your best answer is that you simply do not remember.
Another way to avoid guessing is to make it clear in your answer if you are not quite sure about your response. Some people will state that they are giving the answer “to the best of their memory,” or will simply admit that they are “not exactly sure” before giving the actual answer.
Estimates also work well. If you can provide your best estimate in response to any question, you are showing the questioner that you are giving your best effort to give an honest and accurate answer to the question.
You Can Have an Attorney at Your Statement: No Charge!
Recent changes in the Workers’ Compensation law require that insurance companies pay your attorney's fee if you have a lawyer present at the question and answer session. You chose your own lawyer, and that lawyer is your lawyer, and no one else's.
If you have additional questions about your workers’ compensation claim, contact us, or call us. We help injured workers every day.