When Should You Hire an Attorney for a Workers’ Compensation Case?
You should at least TALK TO AN ATTORNEY as soon as possible. The main reason? Basic guidance every step of the way, and no attorney fees until and unless we collect for you at the end of your case (contingent fee, 20 %). Here, I will provide some info that demonstrates the kind of guidance most workers need:
- Immediately following your injury, the FIRST THING to do is to seek medical attention. In many cases, the best option is an emergency medical care facility that you choose, preferably an emergency room, and not an “Occupational Clinic” at some hospital. These “Occupational Clinics” are typically run by “doctors” who are gatekeepers for employers and insurance carriers, who have a Masters of Public Health.
- The only diagnostics test offered by an occupational physician usually is X-rays of the body part you’re complaining about the most. If the X-rays read no broken bones and no dislocations, then you will be diagnosed as having a “sprain” or “strain,” or some other form of soft tissue injury.
- Example: Construction work injury. Pain in lower back shooting down into arms and one leg. Supervisor sends worker to occupational injury clinic. Clinic doctor orders X-rays which show nothing, releases worker with “back sprain” diagnosis. Worker actually requires an MRI test to reveal his multiple herniated discs in his lower back, which would only be seen on an MRI.
- An injured worker should never allow the employer or any of its representatives, including the adjuster or nurse case manager, to direct his or her medical care, especially in the beginning, right after the injury.
- That is to say: You have a free choice of emergency care that does not count as one of your TWO choices of medical (assuming your employer does not have a PPP, or Preferred Provider Program, a complex topic I will not get into here. See how quickly things get complicated?).
Any or all of these individuals may, and often do, try to direct your medical care from the very beginning of your case:
- Workers’ comp insurance claims adjuster. (Do NOT give a recorded statement to this person, which is only taken to be used against you. The adjuster is not there to help you, but to control the losses that will be sustained as a result of your injury, which includes: hospital bills, lost time payments, and diagnostics (such as x-rays, MRI’s, CAT scans, etc.)
- Company nurse, and/or Nurse Case Manager.
- Company doctor, occupational clinic doctor.
- “Independent” Medical Exam doctor.
- Human Resources personnel.