Why do people call a lawyer after a work-related accident? What reasons lead to calling an attorney? While sitting in court on a recent workers’ compensation case, I started thinking about this issue.
For me, former clients are the best source of referrals. Work hard for your clients. Care for your clients. Do the best job you can. But, let’s set aside referrals for this post. Let’s talk about injured workers who do not know any attorney. What reasons would lead an injured worker to consult any attorney at all? A serious accident or injury presents many issues that can be helped by competent legal advice. Most personal injury attorneys provide a free consultation. We do. We are happy to answer legal questions.
What are some of the most frequent problems encountered by injured workers that lead them to call an attorney? Here are a few frequent reasons that might lead to calling an attorney:
- The Preexisting Condition Denial — The insurance carrier denied a workers’ compensation claim because the person has a “preexisting condition.” This is often a bogus denial of a valid claim. Work comp benefits are not limited to people in perfect health prior to an accident. If the work-related accident aggravated or worsened a prior health condition, the injured worker is probably entitled to benefits. It’s shameful for an insurance carrier to deny a claim simply because the worker has a prior health condition.
- The No Settlement Without Closing Medical Benefits Refusal — The insurance carrier refuses to negotiate any settlement unless the injured person gives up all rights to medical care for his or her injuries. The work comp carrier CANNOT require an injured worker to give up medical benefits. Medical treatment and disability payments are separate. While some attorneys routinely let their clients give up medical rights, I typically do not. Medical benefits can be important. Many people have no other options for medical care.
- The Bad Company Doctor Problem — The insurance carrier provided a doctor. But, the company doctor won’t treat the injured person’s injuries. Sometimes, the company doctor is biased for the company. We have so many other good doctors in Huntsville, Birmingham, and across Alabama. An injured worker with a bad company doctor may have options. This can include an option called a panel of four. A skilled work comp attorney may also help by seeking court intervention. Creative options may exist to get needed medical care.
- The Offer Is SO LOW Shock — The insurance carrier provides an offer. It’s low. Real low. Even if not low, the insurance carrier provides little or no explanation for its number. What benefits are due under Alabama law? Alabama’s workers compensation laws compensate injured workers using various formulas. Benefits are limited by these formulas. Quite often, the insurance carrier chooses the wrong formula resulting in a low offer. Surprise, the insurance company tried to mislead the worker into accepting a low offer. Most attorneys don’t understand the formulas. That’s why it is important to talk with a skilled work comp lawyer who has won benefits for clients at trial. We run through calculations with people on a frequent basis.
- The NO NOTICE Excuse — The insurance carrier claims the worker did not provide proper notice of the accident and denies the claim. Yes, an injured worker should notify his or her employer of an accident immediately. Alabama law does impose notice requirements. Like many legal issues, sometimes this issue is not so clear. Many times, the insurance carrier is WRONG in denying the claim. Don’t accept a denial without consulting a skilled Alabama attorney. Notice requirements can be met in many ways. I’ve tried and won many cases where the insurance carrier initially denied the claim due to notice issues.
Alabama work comp issues can be complex. They can require skilled legal counsel with real experience preparing these cases. An injured worker should NOT accept an insurance carrier’s denial without consulting a professional in this complicated area of law.