Being injured at work can be one of the most painful, disruptive, and confusing events that can happen in a person's life. If you are unable to work, the loss of income can be extremely burdensome on an injured worker and their family. If you don't have health insurance, you may not know how to pay for medical treatment. And if you've sustained a permanent injury, you may wonder how you'll ever make ends meet in the future. Worrying about these issues on top of dealing with pain can be overwhelming.
An injury at work does not have to become a crisis. If you retain an experienced attorney from the get-go, your attorney can help you get disability benefits, medical treatment, and even a lump sum award if you've sustained a permanent injury. This way, you can focus on your recovery.
One of the greatest values of retaining an attorney is that you will have someone who is on your side to protect your interests, financial and medical, every step of the way. If you've never made a workers compensation claim before, you may not realize that it can be an extremely adversarial process. The workers' compensation insurance carrier is in the business of staying in business. That means they have an interest in avoiding compensating you if there is any colorable basis to deny your claim. The following are some of the most common reasons that workers compensation claims are denied - and how hiring an experienced attorney can prevent these things from happening to you.
Injured workers' claims are frequently denied on the basis that a causal connection is lacking, i.e., the injuries were preexisting. For example, you may have been in a prior motor vehicle accident and sustained a disk herniation in your lumbar spine, and then you reinjured your back at work. Although you may have been asymptomatic for years and working without any pain prior to the injury at work, the claim may be denied on the basis that your pain is actually related to the prior accident, not the injury at work.
An attorney can help you in a number of ways. First, if you haven't retained an attorney, most likely, you're being evaluated by a doctor who was hired by the insurance company. Your attorney can set you up with a doctor of your choice to examine you and provide an unbiased opinion as to the cause of your injuries. Your attorney can negotiate with the insurance company using your doctor's opinions to attempt to get your claim accepted. If the insurance carrier still refuses to accept the claim, your attorney can file issues on your behalf and a hearing will be set before an unbiased commissioner where your attorney will submit your doctor's opinions and will argue on your behalf.
Sometimes, an injured worker's claim is initially accepted and you receive some medical treatment and temporary total disability benefits (TTD). But then the checks stop coming. The insurance carrier justifies this for a variety of reasons. For example, their doctor has cleared you for light duty. If you don't go back to work light duty, your TTD benefits may be denied. But what do you do if there is no light duty available at your job? Or maybe their doctor has cleared you for vocational rehab, a program designed to strengthen you to get back to work. If you don't complete the program, your TTD benefits may be denied. What if you try to complete the program, but you simply are not well enough to do so? Or what if you can't drive to rehab because of the pain medication you're taking?
Again, your attorney can help you by setting you up with an unbiased doctor. If, after examining you, your doctor feels that you are unable to perform light duty, or not well enough to do vocational rehab, your doctor can write a report to that effect. Your attorney can then use your doctor's report to file issues on your behalf and obtain an order forcing the insurance carrier to pay your benefits.
At a time when it may feel like no one is on your side, hiring an attorney to be your advocate is one of the smartest things you can do to take control over your recovery.
If you or a family member has been injured as a result of an accidental injury at work and would like a free legal consultation or if you would like more information on work accidents, please feel free to contact our office or visit us on the web at www.portnerandshure.com