A very common question. In fact, a question that I am asked nearly every time I meet with someone about a work comp claim for the first time. A very good question but one with no easy answer. An easier question to answer would be “when is it a good idea to talk to a lawyer about my work comp claim?” Talking to a lawyer is not necessarily the same as hiring a lawyer.
We regularly speak with people who simply have questions about a claim or a potential claim. They are just looking for information about the work comp system and where their claim might be heading. Unless you’ve been through the system before, a work comp claim can be stressful and confusing. At Bradt Law Offices, there is never a charge for a phone call or an office consultation to answer those types of questions. Whether you have a claim that the insurance company is already paying or whether you are considering filing a claim, there are many situations where it’s a good idea to check with an attorney. These are just a few:
You aren’t sure whether to file an injury report: You’ve been hurt or have a medical condition that you feel is related to your work or job duties, but you just aren’t sure. Give us a call.
Your claim has been denied: The insurance company has denied your claim, for whatever reason. This is one situation where you definitely need to speak with a lawyer, and the sooner the better, because claims have deadlines. Don’t give up your claim without talking to an attorney.
You think the insurance company has calculated your wages wrong: All wage loss benefits paid to you are based upon your “average weekly wage” on the date of injury. Calculating the average weekly wage can be complicated and may include overtime and other compensation. If the insurance company gets this wrong, they may be paying you less than they should.
Your benefits have been discontinued: Your wage loss benefits have been discontinued but you disagree with the reasons given for the discontinuance. Definitely give us a call – you only have a short time to object to the discontinuance and request a hearing.
There is a dispute over your work restrictions: The insurance company may send you to one of their own doctors for an “Independent” Medical Examination (referred to as an IME). Almost always, that doctor will disagree with your treating doctor about everything from diagnosis to treatment and restrictions. The insurance company will then frequently use the IME doctor’s report to cut off your wage loss and/or medical benefits.
The insurance company won’t pay a medical bill: This can occur for many reasons, but often occurs shortly after you receive the IME report.
The insurance company won’t approve a medical procedure: The insurance company will not agree to authorize surgery, injections, physical therapy, an MRI, a second opinion, a change of treating doctor, a referral to a specialist, etc.
A QRC is assigned to your case: A QRC is a Qualified Rehabilitation Consultant, who will provide vocational rehabilitation services to you if you are off work because of your injury. (For more information about QRC’s, see this article.) The choice of QRC is yours, not the insurance company’s. Unfortunately, they don’t usually explain this to you and most injured workers have no idea where to find a QRC they can trust. We have a number of QRC’s that we work with regularly and can strongly recommend.
The insurance company offers you a settlement: If the insurance company wants to settle your case, make sure to at least consult with an attorney before you do so. An insurance company claims adjuster is far more knowledgeable about workers’ compensation than you are. Any settlement must be approved by a workers’ compensation judge. (For more information about settlements, read this earlier post)
Or, maybe you just have a few questions…
A workers’ compensation claim can be a confusing, frightening and frustrating ordeal. Please don’t be afraid to contact us, anytime, if we can answer some questions for you. It won’t cost you anything and we will give you our honest assessment about whether you need a lawyer to represent you. Remember, you are dealing with an insurance company which handles hundreds or thousands of claims every day. They have experienced claims adjusters and attorneys managing their files. Even if you don’t need a lawyer at the moment, a little information about how the work comp system works can make a big difference for you in your dealings with the insurance company.
If you decide to hire us, whether now or at some later time, there are no costs or expenses to you. We don’t ask for any money upfront and we only get paid if we win. For more information about hiring us and how we get paid, please see this earlier post.
As always, thank you for visiting our blog and please tell your friends that we are a source of good work comp information for workers injured in northern Minnesota and anywhere on the Iron Range.
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