There are many reasons people may choose not to contact or hire an attorney during the course of their workers’ compensation case. Some people are afraid of losing their jobs or feel intimidated by their employers. Some feel that they are getting adequate medical care and receiving a weekly check, and therefore do not see the value of contacting an attorney.
When Problems Arise During a Worker’s Comp Case
Problems can arise at any time during a workers’ comp case. Unfortunately, too often, injured workers may become more aware of these problems at or near the end of a case. Those who do not seek legal advice are faced with the prospect of dealing with the insurance companies on their own, and without knowing their rights. That’s an outmanned battle.
It is never too early or too late to contact an attorney to discuss your particular situation. But what we have often found is it is generally better to get an attorney involved earlier on, when appropriate, to make sure your workers’ compensation rights are complied with by the insurance company – and your employer.
If, however, you don’t seek legal guidance from the beginning, we strongly urge you to consider hiring an attorney when settlement time comes. Just because things may go smoothly and your weekly checks are being sent, we’ve seen the tides turn dramatically when settlement money is on the table.
Workers’ Comp Laws Can Be Lengthy and Complex
No one should ever attempt to resolve or settle their case with a workers’ compensation insurance company without knowing and understanding their rights under the law. Many clients have questions that, without an attorney’s guidance, are nearly impossible to answer because there are literally thousands of pages of North Carolina workers’ compensation laws and just as many interpretations of those laws. Moreover, many insurance companies have at their disposal entire departments full of lawyers and other professionals who are trained to try to settle for as little money as possible.
That is why we strongly urge injured workers to contact, not just a worker’s comp law firm, but one with lawyers experienced in N.C. worker’s compensation law. Decisions that are made at and near the end of a workers’ compensation case can have a huge impact on the rest of an injured worker’s life and the lives of their family members. An attorney may be able to identify and help resolve problems that lead to a better result for the injured worker.
Ways Some Insurance Companies Minimize Settlement Payouts
There are all kinds of ways some insurance companies may try to minimize your settlement payout – and you may not even realize they are doing it. Bullying is a favorite settlement tactic with some workers’ comp insurance companies.
We had a client who is over the age of 65.3 He could not drive and he walked with a cane. He was on Social Security retirement with multiple injuries and restrictions… and he had a limited education. His insurance company wanted him to try vocational rehabilitation to see if he could find a job, but the chances of that happening were slim. But, we believe they knew that already. I wonder if their intention was to stress our client to the point that he’d take the offer that was on the table. His case is an example of how some insurance companies will seemingly try to bully our clients into accepting their offer.
Stonewalling is another approach we’ve seen some use. We feature a story in our free booklet, Insurance Companies (and others) Behaving Badly about an insurance adjuster who waited months before responding to an injured worker.3 When we got involved and reached the adjuster, she made light of the fact that she had ignored our client, and said she would make a decision in two weeks. Two weeks?
Attorneys do not create rights. Your rights under the workers compensation system are established by our state legislature, and may be enforced through the North Carolina Industrial Commission. I discuss those rights with injured workers on a daily basis. I see firsthand how some insurance companies sometimes try to limit entitlement to those rights. I have talked with people who are near or at the end of their case and think they have been treated “fairly.” When I explain what the law actually provides, oftentimes these people feel betrayed by the insurance company.
A client of ours worked at a store for over 20 years making minimum wage.3 He fell at work and before we intervened, the adjuster didn’t want to give him anything. His employer gave him time off work, and asked him not to come back.
He came back, though. With us.
What that employer did was just plain wrong. Legally, ethically, and morally. Yet we see situations like this all the time.
We had a client who came to us after he had asked for a second opinion from another doctor – one not provided by the workers’ comp insurance company.3 That second opinion confirmed that our client would need additional therapy and more time off work. His employer fired him because he “took too long to heal.” It didn’t take him long to contact us after that. Here is his inspirational story.
Get a FREE Case Evaluation From Our NC Workers Comp Lawyers
Even if your worker’s compensation case has been pending for weeks, months, or years, contact us about your situation. You can see there is a lot at stake, and if you’re trying to negotiate alone against a big powerful insurance company, you are likely at a huge disadvantage.
There is no charge to call us for an initial case evaluation. It is completely FREE to you.
P.S. Think you can’t afford a James Scott Farrin workers’ comp attorney? See why you can hire an attorney with the contingency fee model.
3These are specific examples of experiences we have had with some insurance companies, adjusters, employers, clients or others. These stories do not necessarily represent any industry or employer as a whole. These descriptions of events are based upon the recollections of individual staff members. Client identities have been removed or changed to protect their privacy.