THE IMPORTANCE OF MANAGING YOUR CASE FROM THE BEGINNING
by Tom Thompson
An injured worker makes decisions from day one in dealing with the Department of Labor & Industries or Self-insured Employer. It starts with filing the claim and never ends until the claim is finalized. If you have any questions or concerns, it is always a good idea to contact a qualified attorney who practices in the Workers’ Compensation field. At The Walthew Law Firm, all initial consultations are free. It is important to contact an attorney before your claim gets to the Board of Industrial Insurance Appeals, because sometimes it’s too late to undo the damage.
The Department of Labor & Industries and Self Insured Employers do not have any financial limitations in handling your matter. They have seemingly unlimited money to get repeated, so-called “independent” panel examinations. Those numerous panel doctors eventually become witnesses if the matter proceeds to the Board of Industrial Insurance Appeals.
We do not shy away from litigating a case for an injured worker. It is getting more and more expensive to pursue cases at the Board. Doctors frequently charge $2,000 or more to testify via deposition which doesn’t include the cost of the court reporter to take and transcribe the testimony. To properly prepare the case, it is often necessary to meet with the doctor to talk about the case. Such a meeting can cost $500.00 for fifteen minutes. These costs are the charges from the doctor or court reporter; not attorney fees.
If the issue is a lifetime disability pension, it is necessary to obtain the opinion of a vocational consultant. An evaluation by such an expert can add in excess of $3,000 to the cost of presenting a case at the Board.
Self-Insured Employers are much more aggressive in trying to deny or cut injured workers off of benefits. They take months to get any type of closing order, leaving the injured worker without any benefits while the injured worker waits for an order they can appeal. Upon appeal, it takes at least nine months to have the matter heard and the Board to render a decision. Obviously, this can cause financial and emotional havoc for injured workers.
Social Security Disability (SSD) is one source of funds for the injured worker. If you have been off work for one year (or will be), you might be eligible for SSD. Contact your local Social Security office to start your claim. If you are denied, there is a reconsideration and appeal process with strict time deadlines for filing the reconsideration or appeal. The Walthew Firm handles Workers’ Compensation and Social Security matters. They often go hand in hand as to the medical evidence.
If you or a friend or family member is faced with denial of Workers’ Compensation benefits, call our office. One of our attorneys will speak with you, gather information, and answer your questions. If you need representation, we are available to help.
Tom Thompson is a partner at The Walthew Law Firm and practices Workers’ Compensation and Personal Injury Law.
For more information about our firm, please visit our website www.walthew.com