Addressing Common Myths About Workers’ Compensation In Michigan
At Bahrie Law, PLLC, our attorneys have been advocating for injured Michigan workers for more than 40 years. They have an in-depth knowledge of the state’s workers’ compensation laws, and they understand how to help clients obtain the benefits they need and deserve.
Too often, clients come to us with misinformation or incomplete information about how the system works and what their rights and responsibilities are. On this page, we’ve addressed some of the most common myths we hear about workers’ comp in Michigan.
Myth: You Are Ineligible For Benefits If The Accident Was Your Fault
In most cases, this is untrue. Workers’ compensation does not consider either employee or employer fault in awarding benefits. The only exceptions are if you were injured while violating company policy through willful and intentional misconduct or if your injuries were purposefully self-inflicted.
Myth: You Cannot Seek Benefits If You Injured A Part Of Your Body With A Preexisting Injury
You may be eligible for benefits if your work accident or repetitive stress substantially exacerbated a preexisting injury. The injury must be medically distinguishable from the preexisting condition, and your symptoms will need to include more than increased pain.
These claims are more complex, to be sure, and insurers are likely to dispute or deny them because of the preexisting injury. That’s one of many reasons why you may want to consult an experienced workers’ compensation lawyer.
Myth: Insurers And Employers Have To Contest So Many Claims Because Fraud Is Rampant
The insurance industry likes to cite statistics about the high percentage of fraudulent workers’ comp claims. But those figures more often reflect attitudes among business owners about how common fraud is. Most are completely unsupported by evidence. Actual studies calculate or estimate rates of claimant fraud at less than 2 percent – often much less.
So why are insurers and employers likely to deny or contest claims? Usually, it is because they have a financial interest in doing so. Any money not paid out in claims is money that improves their bottom line.
Myth: You Cannot File A Personal Injury Lawsuit If You Are Entitled To Workers’ Compensation Benefits
This is partially true and partially false, so it is important to understand the context. Michigan law makes workers’ compensation the “exclusive remedy” for workplace injuries, which means you generally cannot sue your employer for a workplace accident or injury.
However, if a third party was responsible for your workplace accident, you can sue that party while also taking advantage of workers’ compensation benefits. Third-party liability claims are common after construction accidents. Construction sites are filled with workers employed by different subcontractors. If your injuries were caused by the negligence of a worker who was not hired by your employer, you can file a third-party claim.
Myth: It Is Your Choice Which Doctor You See And Which Treatment Recommendations You Follow
You don’t get to initially choose your doctor, and you cannot decide which medical advice to follow. Your employer and insurer can and likely will limit you to a list of approved providers. Under Michigan law, you must be treated by one of these providers for the first 28 days. Insurers generally won’t cover any medical visits to other providers during this time, and will only cover visits to your chosen doctor after 28 days if you notify them of the switch in writing. Similarly, once you are receiving benefits, they may be reduced or discontinued if you aren’t following treatment recommendations. If you have questions or concerns about your physician or treatment plan, speak to your attorney to discuss options for addressing them.
Reach Out Today To Schedule Your Free Consultation
With offices in Lansing and Metro Detroit, Bahrie Law, PLLC, represents injured workers throughout Michigan. We are pleased to offer free initial consultations in workers’ compensation matters. To schedule yours, call us at 888-473-1289 or reach out online.