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Should I Wait for Final Insurance Offers to Decide If I Need a Lawyer?

The short answer to this question is a resounding no!

Rarely, is it advisable to wait until the insurance company makes an offer before deciding to consult a lawyer. In fact, it’s rarely a good idea to wait until the insurance company is ready to settle your claim before consulting one.

Why You Shouldn’t Wait to Contact a Lawyer

Why don’t we advise waiting? Because the clock begins to run out on your claim the moment you’re injured.

You only have 30 days to file

  • Notify your employer of the injury in writing as soon as possible within that 30-day window.
  • Notify your employer orally if you can. (Oral notification is not required, but it’s in your best interest.)
  • File a claim with the NC Industrial Commission within 30 days of your injury.

Many crucial decisions will need to be made and necessary paperwork properly filed early on. If not done promptly and properly, it could hinder your chance to receive all the benefits you may be entitled to under the North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Act – including medical care and wages. The process can be highly bureaucratic and can trip up even the most diligent filers.

Because our attorneys work on a contingency basis (you don’t pay us an attorney’s fee unless we recover money for you), the cost is the same whether you hire an attorney from the get go or later in the process. An attorney can potentially get more done on your behalf in less time because we navigate this process daily, we have the paperwork at our disposal, we have relationships with most insurance companies, and with the Industrial Commission, if there’s an issue needing immediate attention.

Mistakes Often Made Without an Attorney

Injured workers may mistakenly believe that the insurance company and their employer will take all necessary steps to ensure their claim for benefits is properly managed in a timely fashion. We’ve seen otherwise.

Be forewarned: Delay by the injured worker, the employer, or the insurance company, can quickly sabotage a workers’ compensation claim. This could potentially result in even greater compensation losses, and possibly a longer road to recovery.

Once an injury is reported, the insurance company may rush you to give them a recorded statement. What you say may be turned around, misconstrued, taken out of context, and could potentially be used against you. Your own words may even cause your claim to be denied. When you’re talking to an insurance adjuster you are talking to someone who has a better understanding than you of the ins and outs of the workers’ compensation process.

The insurance company may offer you money to settle your case at any point during the process. What we’ve found is that some insurance companies may offer as little money as possible as soon as possible so they can close your case. They know that your wage-earning capacity has been affected and that you need to pay your mortgage, rent, utilities, car payment, etc., so you may be more inclined to take their offer. Once your case is closed – they’re off the hook for further reimbursement. That’s just good business in their world.

4 Ways a Worker’s Compensation Lawyer Can Help You

At the Law Offices of James Scott Farrin, more than half our workers’ compensation attorneys are North Carolina Board Certified Specialists in workers’ compensation law. Fewer than 1%*of the 28,000 attorneys in North Carolina are NC board certified workers’ compensation attorneys. We can help:

  1. Even the playing field – Our experienced workers’ compensation team deals with insurance companies, employers, the Industrial Commission, medical personnel, and all the players in between, day in and day out.
  1. Prepare to give a recorded statement to the insurance company – How you state your answers to their questions – although truthful – can potentially help or hurt your claim. Depending on the type of injury, some may not even manifest until days or weeks later. If you give a statement too soon, that injury may not get recorded.
  1. Try to make sure you have received all necessary treatment – Trying to get you all the treatment necessary helps ensure we’ve left no stone unturned toward your recovery. After all, if your case has settled, and you find out two months later that those headaches were the result of a mild concussion from your injury, you will not be reimbursed for additional treatment.
  1. Evaluate the insurance company’s offer to make sure it is reasonable and fair – Experience has taught us that when the insurance companies make offers, they are not always reasonable – or fair. We’ve negotiated enough claims for our clients to know what is best in each unique situation.

2016 U.S. News – Best Lawyers® “Best Law Firms”

The Law Offices of James Scott Farrin received the 2016 U.S. News – Best Lawyers® “Best Law Firms” Tier 1 ranking (the highest ranking) for Workers’ Compensation in the greater Raleigh area.** This achievement came from nearly 700,000 law firm assessments and more than 47,000 client evaluations.

Contact us online or give us a call at 1-866-900-7078 and let one of our workers’ comp attorneys – evaluate your situation for free.


* Statistics from North Carolina State Bar, through December 31, 2015

** Visit www.bestlawfirms.usnews.com for more information about criteria for inclusion

Is it True Insurance Will Pay Me a Fair Workers’ Comp Settlement?

Once you’ve reached maximum medical improvement (MMI) and the insurance company insists your injuries are as good as they’re going to get, it’s time to settle with them. Buyer beware: the insurance company may not be looking out for your best interests when it comes time to settling your workers’ comp claim.

I base that assumption on more than 10 years of experience representing workers’ compensation clients, many of whom saw firsthand the lowball compromises some insurance companies have been known to offer.

Insurance Companies are Profit Driven to Increase Their Bottom Line

Most insurance companies are for-profit companies. They have shareholders to answer to. Among the many ways they seek to increase profits to satisfy shareholders is to pay out less money on claims than they take in on premiums.

In order to pay out less on claims, my experience has been that they tend to try to limit their payments in any way possible – including denying, delaying, and limiting the amounts of workers’ compensation claims and medical benefits. They have hundreds of people who compute complex equations called algorithms, and employ data analytics spreadsheets that run pages and pages of figures to determine the least amount of money they can pay you.

Even if you have the friendliest adjuster in the world, how can he or she compete with that?

I’ve seen some insurance company representatives manipulate when checks are mailed, deny medical treatment, or come settlement time, try to shirk that financial responsibility too.

That’s not right. Plain and simple.

Many clients come to us to help sort things out after they’ve been surprised to learn that the company they trusted did not have their best interests in mind after all.

An Experienced Attorney May Be Able To Help You Reach a Fair Settlement

If you are worried about a fair settlement, here’s why I recommend you consider allowing the Law Offices of James Scott Farrin to help you determine if you have a claim.

We can help you determine your options. A settlement means you’re one step closer to getting back control of your life from the insurance company. Yet it also means you’re responsible for your own future medical treatment for your injury, in most situations. You need to make sure you are covered and have a plan regarding access to future medical treatment.

We handle insurance claims all day, every day. The insurance company handles claims all day, every day. So do we. This may be the only claim you’ve ever dealt with. An experienced workers’ compensation attorney can provide you information you need to help level the playing field.

We know worker’s comp laws inside and out. But don’t just take our word for it. In a peer-reviewed survey, the Law Offices of James Scott Farrin was named a Tier 1 firm (the highest ranking) for Workers’ Compensation in the Greater Raleigh Metro area by U.S. News – Best Lawyers® “Best Law Firms” in 2016.*

Our attorneys are experienced negotiators. A settlement can affect you and your family’s finances and lives for years to come. It is vitally important to make sure you come away from settlement with as much as possible for future medical expenses. If you tackle a settlement without experienced representation you are “going in blind” to a negotiation that is extremely important to you and everyone around you.

In any complex legal situation, such as a worker’s compensation claim, it is prudent to seek out as much information as possible about all options available under the law. Contact our firm for a free case evaluation to determine if our legal team can help.

Our workers’ comp staff at the Law Offices of James Scott Farrin, is comprised of six North Carolina Board Certified Workers’ Compensation Specialists, a former Special Deputy Commissioner and a former Deputy Commissioner from the North Carolina Industrial Commission, (one of whom was a former state senator), and others who used to work for workers’ compensation defense firms. Contact us online for free case evaluation or call us at 1-866-900-7078.


* Visit www.bestlawfirms.com for more information about criteria for inclusion.


How Does Mediation Work?

When injured in an accident that isn’t your fault, it’s probably safe to assume that you, like most people, simply want to be paid what’s fair. While obtaining fair payment may seem like a simple and straightforward process, it can quickly become complicated and confusing.

When negotiations with the insurance adjuster fail, then options exist to try to ensure that your compensation is fair and just. From offer to counteroffer, court filings, mediations, to trial, the Law Offices of James Scott Farrin has experienced professionals on staff to counsel you at all levels of civil litigation – including mediation.

Will My Case Require Me to Go to Mediation?

Mediation is not the same thing as settlement negotiations, which occur at the beginning of your case, and mediation is only undertaken after settlement negotiations fail and you file a lawsuit. After settlement negotiations fail, you would begin your lawsuit by filing your case in civil court.

Whether or not you proceed to mediation depends on whether you file in superior court or district court. For the purposes of this blog, the primary difference between superior court and district court is the amount of money you seek in your lawsuit.

If your case involves more than $25,000, you must file it in superior court, and mediation is required. Superior court rarely allows you to skip mediation and go straight to trial.

If your damages are $25,000 or less, then you must file in district court where mediation is not required.

What Happens in Mediation?

Let’s say you are headed to mediation. Here’s what it might look like.

Mediation takes place outside the court, typically at an office. There is no judge. No facts will be decided. The point of mediation is to reach a settlement. The people who attend mediation are:

  • The plaintiff (that’s you – the person filing a claim for damages). You must attend mediation, because you have final settlement authority. In other words, you are the only one who can determine if the terms the other party is offering are acceptable, and thereby end the mediation.
  • Your attorney, who will negotiate on your behalf.
  • The attorney from the defendant’s insurance company.
  • The mediator, who is a neutral third party.

The defendant doesn’t necessarily need to attend. Your lawyer has the option of excusing him or her.

Mediation vs. Trial

Mediation may potentially benefit you by eliminating the costs of going to court. For example, you will likely not have to pay an expert witness (such as an accident reconstructionist) to testify on your behalf. Moreover, going to court involves additional costs that can chip away at the final dollar amount you may receive.

Headed to Mediation?

The best advice when headed to mediation is to arm yourself with an experienced legal team who has researched your case, talked with you about the value of your case, and knows what your case may really be worth.

Combined, our attorneys at the Law Offices of James Scott Farrin have handled countless mediations. We can prepare you for mediation, attend mediation with you, counsel you on the reasonableness of the defendant’s offers and counteroffers, and advise whether to accept your settlement or proceed to trial.

If you’ve been injured in an accident that wasn’t your fault, call us 24/7 at 1-866-900-7078 or contact us online for a free case evaluation.

FREE Evaluation Regarding Your Denied Mental Illness Claim

Social Security Disability benefits are available for people who are or have become disabled and cannot work.

For some the disability is physical, such as kidney failure or a back injury. For others the disability may be mental, such as schizophrenia or autism spectrum disorder.

While the Social Security Administration does consider mental illnesses and disorders as criteria to receive Social Security Disability benefits, mental disability claims are rejected more often than those based on physical disability – based on my experience.

Why Are Mental Disability Claims Denied More Often Than Physical Disability Claims?

Two primary reasons – objectivity and training.

  1. It can be difficult to objectively prove that a mental condition is severe enough to prevent basic work functions.
  2. Examiners don’t necessarily have the extensive training needed to help them understand how to evaluate mental disorders or illnesses as they relate to employment.

The Social Security Administration’s official listing of impairments outlines what it considers to be a mental disability. Click here to access this information. Briefly, the list describes:

  • Schizophrenia, paranoid and other psychotic disorders
  • Affective disorders, such as depression or hallucinations
  • Intellectual disability
  • Anxiety-related disorders
  • Somatoform disorders (mental illness that causes symptoms and pain, but cannot be traced to any physical cause, and is not the result of substance abuse – hypochondria, for example)
  • Personality disorders
  • Autistic disorders and other pervasive developmental disorders

If you meet the required criteria outlined, and other criteria the agency may require, you are considered mentally disabled by their standards.

Denied? You May Still Be Eligible for Benefits

If you have a condition that is not listed here (or on the agency’s website), or if your condition does not meet the criteria in these listings, you may still be eligible for benefits.

You will have to show that your condition will interfere with your ability to perform work and that the condition is likely to last for a long period of time. We may be able to help.

North Carolina Social Security Disability Lawyers

If you have been denied Social Security Disability benefits, don’t give up! Get a second opinion from a North Carolina board certified specialist in Social Security Disability law. Out of the 28,000 North Carolina lawyers, only 51 in the entire state are board certified Social Security Disability specialists.* So you won’t find us just anywhere.

Contact the Law Offices of James Scott Farrin – we have a Social Security board certified specialist who also serves on the Board of Legal Specialization’s Social Security Disability Committee. That is the committee that helps decide who has the credentials for specialization. Call 1-866-900-7078 for contact us online or a free evaluation of your situation.


* Statistics provided by NC State Bar December 31, 2015

How Much Does it Cost to Review My Workers’ Comp Case?

FREE Case Review 24/7/365

At the Law Offices of James Scott Farrin, we don’t charge to review cases of injured workers. Your case is reviewed for FREE right over the phone – 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

We understand that injured workers have enough concerns about money, and one more expense is not an option.

Moreover, if we take your case, you don’t pay an attorney’s fee unless we recover money for you. And you only pay a percentage of the money you recover. If we don’t recover for you, we won’t charge you an attorney’s fee. Guaranteed.

The Insurance Company has Lawyers – You Should Too

We believe the playing field should be equal between injured workers and big insurance companies. They have plenty of attorneys on staff and on retainer to review files – in my estimation, for the purpose of avoiding responsibility. Even if the insurance carrier is paying for medical costs and paying a weekly disability check, they often get legal counsel involved early on, just in case.

What many don’t realize is that even if the insurance carrier has begun to pay benefits, they can suddenly and without warning stop those benefits and medical care during their investigation period (usually a couple of months), if they decide benefits are not warranted.

That’s why we think you should have an attorney represent you, too.

Injured workers don’t always know if hiring an attorney can help. We try to make it easy to make that decision. That’s why we invite anyone injured at work to contact us for a free review.

North Carolina Workers’ Comp Attorneys

If you’ve been injured at work, contact us right away or give us a call at 1-866-900-7078. Let one of our workers’ comp attorneys – six of whom are North Carolina Board Certified Specialists in Workers’ Compensation Law – evaluate your situation for free!

PS: Check out these helpful blogs:

Very First Thing You Should Do After You’re Injured at Work

In NC, does workers’ compensation only cover my medical bills?

The Money the Insurance Company Offered Seems Fair. Should I Settle?

You might be surprised – even relieved – when an adjuster offers you a settlement for your injuries within a few days of your accident. But be forewarned.  If you’re still hurting or injured, you should not accept a settlement from the adjuster – even if it sounds like a good offer.

Even if you feel like you’ve recovered from your injuries, it’s still prudent to consult with an experienced personal injury attorney to help gain a better understanding of your legal options.

Why Shouldn’t I Settle as Soon as Possible?

Once you accept a settlement from the insurance company, your case is closed. Period. That means you release the insurance company from all future claims pertaining to that accident. Their responsibility for your medical treatment or anything else related to the accident is finished.

Moreover, the beginning of your case is usually too early to assign a value to your injury claims. Most people don’t know the full extent of their injuries and treatment plan until time has passed. Severe bruising, for example, could turn into a blood clot, which could travel to your lungs. A slight head injury might seem benign at first, but could lead to swelling on the brain or a concussion. You just don’t know, and only time and medical treatment can tell.

Why Shouldn’t I Sign a Scheduled Release?

You might encounter what we refer to as a “scheduled release.” This is when the adjuster offers to keep your claim “open” for a certain number of days to cover medical bills up to a specified amount within that time period. The problem with a scheduled release is that – again – you can’t predict how your medical condition will progress or regress. What happens if you don’t get better during that time period and you need further treatment? What happens if you get worse – when that headache slowly turns into double vision? If you sign a scheduled release – you’re out of luck.

Insurance Company Tactics to Try to Pay You Less

I’ve found that these and other quick offers can be a common practice among some insurance companies. Experience in dealing with personal injury matters has taught me that most injured people do not know their rights and how the law works. Unfortunately, some insurance companies can use this to their advantage. Remember, their objective is often to pay you the least amount possible on your claim, and the adjuster’s objective may be to get you to accept the least amount sooner rather than later.

Why Do I Need to Get Medical Care Immediately?

The importance of obtaining medical treatment cannot be stressed enough. If you aren’t getting treatment, there’s no documentation or proof that you were injured. There are any number of issues related to treatment that you might be unaware of that could have a detrimental effect on your case. Poor treatment, overtreatment, and gaps in treatment, for example, can effect compensation and create difficulties when trying to negotiate maximum compensation.

Our job as attorneys is not to direct medical treatment. However, we can let you know the effects and various outcomes that different treatment situations may potentially have on your compensation at the end of your case. In general, you should receive the necessary treatment for recovery, follow your doctor’s recommendations, avoid large gaps of time with no treatment, and meet all your scheduled appointments.

Once treatment is complete and you are no longer considered injured, we are in a much better position to properly evaluate the value of your claim.

Will an Attorney be Able to Get Me More Money?

Compensation varies case by case. The overall goal of representation is to increase the amount of your recovery and put you in a better financial position – even after fees. That is why, if you are injured, it’s important that you contact an attorney as soon as possible.

If you have questions, or want to see if we can help, contact us online or give us a call at 1-866-900-7078.  After your free evaluation, we can let you know whether or not representation might possibly add value to your claim.

How Long Can It Take to Get a Hearing on My Social Security Disability Claim?

Applicants who’ve gone through the initial application and reconsideration phase of a Social Security Disability or Supplemental Security Income case, and were denied, must file a Request for Hearing by Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) form with the Office of Disability Adjudication and Review (ODAR).

Social Security Disability Claim Processing Timeframe

Processing times can be lengthy. The Social Security Administration’s Hearing Office publishes data regarding processing times. With a 21-month wait time, North Carolina has the dubious distinction of having the longest wait time of all 50 states when compared to the national average of 16.5 months. And Charlotte and Greensboro lead the nation’s cities with a backlog of 21 months and 21.5 months respectively.

IT’S IMPORTANT TO NOTE: These wait times begin from the time you request a hearing, not from the date you first apply for disability benefits.

That can be a long time to wait when your bills keep piling up. Waiting for a favorable decision can be agonizing, but there are some ways to potentially help move your case along.

Speeding Up Your Case – Social Security Disability Lawyers

One way you can potentially speed up your case is to contact a Social Security Disability lawyer. We have an experienced Social Security Disability team made up of several former Disability Examiners, and a North Carolina State Bar Board Certified Specialist in Social Security Disability Law. (Less than 1%* of North Carolina’s lawyers are board certified specialists in Social Security Disability Law.)

Having worked on the “other side,” we know all too well the methods the agency has in its arsenal. And we have counter-methods of our own to try and move your case through the process as quickly as possible. An experienced attorney may be able to identify issues that qualify your case for critical or dire need, or may identify your case as one that qualifies for a decision without the need to wait for an evidentiary hearing.

 Time may not be on your side when you file a Social Security Disability claim, but we at the Law Offices of James Scott Farrin certainly are. Contact us today for a free case evaluation by clicking on the link, or call us toll-free at 1-866-900-7078.


 * Statistic from NC State Bar as of December 10, 2015