The timing of hiring a workers’ compensation lawyer can happen at any time….in most cases sooner is better. After your work injury has occurred and you give timely “Notice” to your employer of the same, many different scenarios can take place. Your work injury could be accepted, denied, or accepted temporarily and/or for medical only.
When Do I hire a Workers’ Compensation Attorney?
If your work injury is denied, a Claim Petition must be filed in order for you to attempt to obtain workers’ compensation benefits, both wage loss and medical. In order to proceed and having the best chance of succeeding with the Claim Petition, a seasoned workers’ compensation lawyer should be retained. In the process of litigation on a Claim Petition, the same will be assigned to a workers’ compensation judge, who will hear evidence including your live testimony in court. Also, in most cases, medical testimony from your doctor and the doctor hired on behalf of the workers’ compensation carrier/your employer must be taken via a deposition, for which the doctors charge money, with their fee being thousands of dollars. There are time deadlines and rules of engagement that must be followed, which a seasoned PA Workers’ Compensation Attorney knows. Also, in the process, the parties will be given an opportunity to participate in a “Mandatory Mediation” which is a way to potentially settle your case. It is critical to know how to create a demand that will be taken seriously and result in a settlement with the largest amount of money. Here again is where hiring an experienced PA Workers’ Compensation Lawyer is to your advantage.
If your work injury is accepted temporarily, either with wage loss and medical benefits, or just medical only, there are deadlines as to how long the work injury claim is accepted. There are rules that the workers’ compensation adjustor must follow for the handling of such temporary acceptances and again, your workers’ compensation lawyer will be able to stay on top of these deadlines and file the appropriate Petitions necessary to protect your rights.
Let’s say that fortunately, your entire workers’ compensation claim is accepted by the workers’ compensation carrier and you are receiving both wage loss and medical benefits……how long will this last? It is not a matter of if but when the workers’ compensation carrier will take steps to stop or reduce your workers’ compensation benefits. This will all start with them sending you to an Independent Medical Evaluation doctor, who is hired by the workers’ compensation carrier to perform a one-time exam of you, as well as review your medical records and diagnostic studies, such as an MRI. That doctor will then write a report and forward that to the workers’ compensation carrier, and depending on what the report says, the carrier will then hire a lawyer to file a Petition against you. The Petition will be one of three, a Modification Petition; a Suspension Petition; or a Termination Petition. None of these is good for your case.
If you receive a Modification Petition, the workers’ compensation carrier is trying to reduce the amount of wage loss benefits that you receive on a weekly basis. If you receive a Suspension Petition, the workers’ compensation carrier is trying to stop your wage loss benefits altogether. If you receive a Termination Petition, then the workers’ compensation carrier is trying to stop both your wage loss and medical portion of your claim, based on an IME Dr. saying that you are fully recovered.
Keep in mind that it is easier to go through the legal process by already having an experienced workers’ compensation lawyer on board sooner rather than when you are in jeopardy of losing your benefits. Workers’ Compensation Attorney, Paula Robinson offers a free consultation which offers many benefits.