Will I be fired if I hire a lawyer to help me in my Workers’ Compensation Case?
Over the years, many clients and potential clients have expressed to me their fear that if they hire a lawyer to help them through the rigors of the workers’ compensation system, they might be terminated by their employer. I have rarely if ever seen this happen.
First, it is not in the best interest of the Employer/Insurer to terminate someone who has been injured and is under medially documented work restrictions. Should that happen, they then can not offer you work suitable to whatever restrictions may be in place and then they must pay you the weekly worker’s compensation income benefits.
That opens the door to a host of rights that you’d then have as an income recipient, both medically and legally. The Employer/Insurer would rather avoid that.
If your injury is such that you are completely taken out of work, of course in that instance the weekly checks must start immediately. The value of having a lawyer on your team at that point is basically to ensure your rights under the statute are protected and being followed and you don’t end up in the ditch.
They are several, to list a few:
1. Once a lawyer is retained and the insurer is informed of that, the Employer/Insurer can only talk to your attorney and can no longer talk directly to you. This prevents a host of potential manipulative schemes from unfolding in your case.
2. If you later get released to “light duty”, they can’t just say “we have job for you and you need to come in tomorrow”. Oh, no. There is an entire procedure they must go through to offer you light duty work. One, they have to present a detailed job description both to the doctor and simultaneously to your lawyer so that it can be determined that the job is in fact suitable to your restrictions and truly fits your restrictions. I’ve seen many the case where the information given to the doctor was both inaccurate of just plain false.
3. Once the doctor signs off on a legitimate job, you must go back and try it. However, if it is not working out, you can take yourself out of the job without regard to medical opinion, within 15 working days and the insurer must recommence income benefits and go to Court on the issue of whether the job is truly appropriate or not. There are cases where the job looks like it should work until the person actually starts performing the tasks involved. That can
produce a different outcome. It then must be a judicial determination based on medical evidence and the testimony of the injured party as to job suitability. This is where a good and experienced workers’ compensation lawyer can be invaluable.
4. In every case, there comes a time when settling the case may be appropriate. That is driven entirely by where the case is medically. Though the insurer may be pushing for settlement, that may not be appropriate if the medical treatment is still very much ongoing and/or there may be procedures coming that you need to know the outcome of before you settle. Here, again, is where an experienced attorney will be invaluable to you.
The workers’ compensation process can be quite complex and is driven by the terms of the worker’s compensation statute and case law and by the medical treatment and condition at all times, contact Tillman & Associates an experienced attorney is vital to help you through these intricate complexities. And again, remember, it is never in the best interest of an employer/insurer to terminate an injured worker in the midst of a claim. They will be advised by their attorneys not to do that.