Q: Do I need a lawyer?
A: Not everyone needs a lawyer. However, with the exception of minor injuries, everyone should at least consult with a certified specialist in Workers' Compensation law to make sure they are getting the benefits to which they are entitled. Certainly, if the insurance company is denying any benefits, or disputing the claim, a lawyer is probably necessary.
Q: How do you get paid?
A: One of the best legal bargains around, the attorney's fee in your workers' compensation case is set by State law at a maximum of 15% of certain benefits. The fee is usually only 15% of the permanent disability awarded. Fees for recovery of penalty money may be slightly higher. All fees must be ordered approved by a Workers' Compensation Administrative Law Judge. The fee is a contingency fee. No fees are ever paid in advance, and if you recover nothing, you owe no fee to the attorney.
To get what you are fairly entitled to, you need to know who you are dealing with, how to improve the quality of the medical evidence, how to evaluate the factors of permanent disability and value of future medical treatment, and how to bargain. In short, you need a good deal of technical knowledge and experience negotiating settlements. Considering the small fee involved, a "do-it-yourself" approach may prove much more costly.
Q: Am I limited to Workers' Compensation benefits?
A: Most of the time, yes. If, however, your injury is caused by the negligence of someone other than your employer or co-workers, you may be able to file a civil lawsuit in addition to your Workers' Compensation claim. These are complex cases. I have many years of experience in dealing with the complex interplay between Workers' Compensation claims and associated civil lawsuits. NEVER settle one claim without knowing how it will affect the other.
Q: What is "lifetime medical care"?
A: Many workers are awarded lifetime medical care. I will continue to help you get good medical treatment even after the rest of the claim is settled. The insurance companies will try to deny needed care, and I will fight hard to get you the medical treatment you deserve.
Q: Have Workers' Compensation laws changed recently?
A: The insurance companies recently supported changes in the law which usually result in smaller settlements for workers. There are ways to fight these changes, but the insurance companies are certainly not going to volunteer that information. I know how to use the new laws to actually get better settlements. I know the questions to ask the doctors to make sure they write a fair disability report.
Q: Do I have to see the company doctor?
A: You absolutely can change doctors. The insurance company will send you to a conservative doctor who will not provide necessary treatment and who will downplay your injuries. I will get you to a good doctor who will listen to you and not the insurance company. I know which doctors are fair, and which doctors are in the back pocket of the insurance companies.
If you have a question that is not answered here, email me.