If you are injured at work in Santa Rosa, CA or anywhere in Sonoma County and you report the injury to your employer by filing a claim form, you are almost certain to receive a call from your employer’s workers’ compensation insurance carrier’s claims investigator. Should you take that call?
My answer to that question is a resounding “NO!”
Much like an arresting police officer, but without the required reading of your right to remain silent, anything you say to the insurance company’s investigator or claims adjuster WILL be used against you. And, just like the police, they will use a variety of tactics to get you to talk. They may tell you your claim will be processed faster or more easily if you give them the information they seek. They may tell you that if you do not talk to them, they will not be able to “help” you with your claim. Let me be clear, the insurance carrier is not interested in “helping” you. They are interested in information that will provide the basis for denying your claim.
Even simply picking up the phone and answering the call invites problems. Imagine the following conversation:
- Phone rings. You pick it up. “Hello?”
- “Hello. This is ____ from XYZ insurance. How are you today?”
- “I’m fine. What can I help you with?”
We are programmed to answer that way, but you have just told the investigator what he/she wants — you are “fine.” CLAIM DENIED.
To avoid saying the wrong thing, my recommendation is to say nothing at all. Hang up. If you have caller ID, make a note of the number and do not answer subsequent calls or block the number if possible. If you live in a household with others, for instance if your children routinely answer the phone at your house, instruct them also to not answer the phone or speak with anyone who asks questions about where you may be or what activities you may be engaged in.
Don’t let the insurance company fool you into giving them information that will hurt your case. Secure the services of an attorney, preferably a certified specialist in workers’ compensation law such as the Law Offices of Marc Francis, to handle all communications with the insurance carrier, whether it be a claims adjuster, an investigator, or a nurse case manager. Your workers’ compensation attorney will shield you from inappropriate communication with these individuals, while making sure you receive all the benefits to which you are entitled under California’s workers’ compensation law.