What Do I Need to Look Out For When I Have A Worker’s Compensation Claim?
Most workers’ compensation insurance carriers will treat you decently. Some will treat you better than decently. Others will not. Our firm has handled work comp law since 1992. We know all of the games and all of the tricks. We know how to protect injured workers. We know how to keep workers from being screwed. We know the right things to do.
Some of the things the insurance company might do are as follows:
- Send you to a medical facility that minimizes the seriousness of your injury. One of the powers your employer and their insurance carrier has over you is they get to choose the facility where you treat for your work injury. The first place most employers will send someone is to an occupational clinic. Occupational clinics are quick to get people back to work and quick to minimize the extent of someone’s injury. They will delay ordering an MRI, delay ordering other testing and order therapy before requiring your employer to spend big money on your injury. If you are required to see a specialist, they will likely pick a specialist that does the same things. That is, get you back to work more quickly than you may need, minimize your injury and try to limit the amount of expensive testing you need.
- They may doctor shop. Doctor shopping is a lawyer’s phrase for when an insurance company is not happy with the first doctor they choose, so they may switch you to another doctor. Insurance companies have cozy relationships with doctors that tend to side with them. If an insurance company is not happy with Dr. A, they may choose Dr. B or even choose Dr. C. We know when to object to this doctor shopping and try to fight so that you are not sent to doctor after doctor. If you do not like the first doctor, we can make demands that you be sent for another opinion.
- They may miscalculate your weekly work comp rate of pay. Under Indiana law, your weekly workers’ compensation rate of pay is supposed to be fair to both parties. This means that if your pay is based upon the prior year of employment with your employer, but you only worked their 6 months, or if you missed a bunch of work under FMLA, or you missed a bunch of work because you had a previous injury, your employer may include those non-working weeks to reduce your weekly work comp rate of pay. If you were paid tips, but did not report the tips, your employer may calculate your weekly pay rate without including the tips. If you have to miss work to go to doctor’s appointments, your employer may fail to reimburse you for this missed work. There are a lot of ways your employer can minimize what they pay you, and we know what to look out for.
- Future medical. Under Indiana law, you may be eligible for future medical coverage under your workers’ compensation case. To get such coverage, you will need to prove to a judge that there is a good probability that you will require future medical care. The insurance company will likely not bring up this coverage to you and will try to get you to settle your case without offering you future medical. Also, if the insurance company merely voluntarily offers future medical to you without putting it in writing on a document signed by the judge, the offer may be not worth anything. If the insurance company puts the offer in writing, but does not agree to an extension of the statute of limitation, the agreement may only apply for a short period of time. Again, be very careful if you are offered future medical care without an attorney who knows what they are doing. The offer may not be worth anything.
- Settlement value. Of course, the insurance company will try to minimize the value of your settlement. One of the tactics they use is to hire a doctor to assign your impairment rating who is very conservative. Conservative is a lawyer term for lowball. They will hire a doctor, oftentimes, who lowballs the seriousness of your injury. A qualified attorney knows what doctors to hire for a second opinion and might be able to increase the value of your case.
- Are you on Social Security Disability? If so, the settlement agreement must contain specific language in order to spread the value of your work comp settlement over your life expectancy. The settlement will likely still come in a lump sum to you, but the settlement needs to be spread over your life expectancy in the written settlement agreement, or your Social Security checks might stop immediately. Be very careful. A seasoned attorney knows how to handle this issue. There is a saying that you wouldn’t do brain surgery on yourself. That may be an exaggeration in a work comp case but be careful handling a work comp case by yourself.
- Other benefits due. Insurance adjusters sometimes are too busy or forgetful and forget to pay mileage, parking, and other reimbursable fees. A seasoned attorney will know how to get these reimbursed expenses to you.
There are a lot more examples of how an insurance company may minimize or avoid paying you amounts that are owed under the law. It is easy to say that you don’t need an attorney or that you trust the insurance company but be very careful. The attorneys at Klezmer Maudlin have handled cases for over a combined 100 years, and we know how to protect your best interests. Please give us a call for a free consultation. If you have any questions about this topic, please call one of the attorneys at Klezmer Maudlin. We have offices throughout Indiana including Indianapolis, Evansville, New Harmony, Lafayette and Jeffersonville/Louisville.