California injured workers face an uphill battle in their workers compensation cases ever since the work comp reforms of 2004 and 2012. Without a workers compensation attorney, the deck is stacked against the injured worker. There are many questions facing an injured worker, however I will narrow them down to five for this work comp article. These are the questions which generally come up in the early stages of a workers comp case.
How will I pay my bills while I’m on work comp? If you’ve been injured at work and are temporarily unable to return to work because of your workers compensation injury, you may be entitled to workers compensation benefits. If your work injury case is accepted by the insurance company, you will receive temporary disability benefits. Workers comp temporary disability benefits range from a minimum of $206.17 to $1010.30 as of 2012. Work comp temporary disability is not related based on two thirds of your average weekly wage. If your claim is denied or on delay, your workers compensation attorney can help you collect state disability insurance while your workers comp claim is being litigated. All California workers pay into the state disability system unless you have a private short-term or long-term disability policy.
The employers work comp doctor says nothing is wrong with me, what do I do? Early in most workers comp cases the injured worker will see an industrial medical doctor. Most of these doctors work for the employer and insurance company directly. In order to get repeat work comp business, they must do their bidding. Think about it, they only have to deal with the injured worker once but have to deal with the insurance company forever. A work injury lawyer can assess the opinion of that first doctor and how it relates to your workers compensation injury. If you are not receiving the upper level of work comp care, a knowledgeable workers compensation attorney can direct you to a work injury doctor who will properly assess your workers compensation injury. Most work comp insurance companies have medical provider networks which are complicated to navigate. An experienced personal injury attorney can help you through this.
I received a list of three doctors in the mail from the state, what do I do? If you do not have a workers comp attorney you will be required to use a doctor from a state panel. Unless you have years of regional workers compknowledge this is a dangerous prospect for you as the lists are full of defense oriented workers compensation physicians. If the insurance company objects to the findings of your work injury physician or you ask for a panel of doctors, immediately seek the advice of a work injury attorney before you pick a doctor on that list. Once you have seen a doctor on that list and you do not have an attorney, you’re stuck with that doctor’s opinion. Before you see a doctor on that list, seek the advice of an experienced local work comp attorney first.
The workers compensation insurance company says I have a work comp injury but I get no disability money? Often times the insurance company’s doctor will find that you have an injury that gives you little or no disability. A workers compensation lawyer can help you obtain a second opinion within the workers compensation insurance company medical provider network as you are entitled to three opinions within that network. A work injury attorney can also help you obtain an opinion to and including medical examiner for a state panel qualified medical evaluator.
I have a work comp injury but received a denial letter from the workers compensation insurance company, what do I do? If your claim is denied, the insurance company will not be paying you any work comp benefits unless the situation changes. You can litigate your work comp case yourself, but I would advise against it unless you happen to be a workers compadjuster or have similar years of knowledge. If your claim is denied, it is considered essentially worthless by the insurance company. So by hiring an experienced local workers comp attorney or personal injury attorney you have nowhere to go but up. A work injury lawyer can obtain medical evidence you are going to need in court to find that denial or negotiate a fair settlement.