Our firm is here to help you with workers’ compensation. We are originally contacted by injured workers who are in all different phases of their workers’ compensation cases. Some contact us within days of sustaining a work injury. Others do not contact us until after the insurance company has filed a petition to stop their benefits, or after they have received a denial from the insurance company. Although none of these are necessarily wrong times to contact a lawyer, the best time to contact a lawyer is very soon after you sustain a work injury.
Clients who have had prior work injuries are more likely to contact us early on in their claims or are more likely to suggest to friends and family that they should contact us early on in their claims. The experience of having to deal with a workers’ compensation insurance company in the past makes one realize the benefits of having an attorney involved early on in the workers’ compensation process.
If a client sustains an injury, and the insurance company denies his or her claim, the client typically contacts us when he or she receives the Notice of Denial. This usually happens shortly after the client’s injury. However, if the insurance company voluntarily begins paying benefits, a client may refrain from contacting us initially.
It is important to remember that the workers’ compensation insurance company is a for-profit business. In order to make a profit, they must take in more money in premiums than they pay out in claims. In other words, in order to make a profit, they must try to limit the benefits they pay you. The insurance company has any ways at its disposal to limit or stop your benefits. And they are continually looking for and/or generating evidence to be used to reduce or stop the benefits that they are paying you.
If you are receiving benefits, the first step that the insurance company will most likely take to reduce or stop your benefits is to schedule you for an “independent” medical evaluation (IME). Most often, you will need to attend this examination. However, under limited circumstances, you may not need to attend the examination. If you have already discussed your case with one of our attorneys prior to the date of the examination, we may be able to avoid having you attend the exam.
Another step that the insurance company may take to reduce or stop your benefits is to schedule you for an interview with a vocational expert who will render an opinion that you have earning power. That opinion will be used as a basis for a petition, in which the insurance company will request that your weekly benefits be reduced or stopped. As with the IME, you will most likely be required to attend the vocational evaluation, but, under certain circumstances, we may be able to avoid having you attend the vocational interview.
The insurance company may also attempt to limit the number of weeks of benefits you receive by having you undergo an Impairment Rating Evaluation (IRE). Again, as with an IME or a vocational interview, you will most likely have to attend the IRE, but, under certain circumstances, we may be able to avoid having you do so.
There are many other actions that the insurance company may take which could jeopardize your benefits. Having one of our attorneys involved early on in your claim can limit the negative impact of the insurance company’s actions.
The million-dollar question typically asked is . . . How much will it cost to get an attorney involved in my case at the early stages? The good news is that, if the insurance company is paying you the weekly benefits to which you are entitled, you will not be charged a fee for us to monitor your case. Naturally, if we need to file a petition to get the insurance company to pay you benefits, or we need to defend against a petition filed by the insurance company to reduce or stop your benefits, we will need to charge you a fee. But, if we are simply monitoring your case, you will not need to pay us a fee to do so.
The other significant concern that you may have about getting us involved early on in your claim is the reaction of your employer when it becomes known that you have consulted a lawyer. However, your employer does not necessarily need to know that you contacted a lawyer. When we are involved early on in your workers’ compensation case, we will monitor your case in one of two ways. One way that we monitor a case is through you. We do not contact your employer or the insurance company. No one but you will know that you have contacted our office.
The other way that we monitor cases is to contact the insurance company and let them know that you contacted our firm. At that point, the insurance company is no longer permitted to contact you directly, and all correspondence must be directed to our office. Many clients choose this option when the insurance adjuster is being rude or not responding to calls or emails. This option allows you to focus on healing while we deal with the insurance company’s tactics.
Contacting one of our lawyers to discuss your case does not cost you anything. And doing so soon after your injury is the best way to protect your rights and benefits, and to avoid the negative impact of the insurance company’s attempts to stop, reduce or limit your benefits. Think of us as your workers’ comp helpline!