Can I Handle the Workers Comp Case Myself? Do I Really Need to Talk To A Workers Comp Lawyer?
Handling Case On Your Own
Can't I handle my workers comp case myself? Do I really need to talk to a lawyer?
I want to tell you right off the bat. Obviously my answer is going to sound a little self-serving because I'm a lawyer. Evidently I want people to hire me, it's how I stay in business. But I'm going to tell you, I have been consulted by dozens and dozens of people over the years who trusted that the workers comp company was going to be fair with them and that their employer was going to be fair with them. And even when things started happening like they hire a company doctor and they do all kinds of crummy things, they still say,
Oh well it's just an insurance company being an insurance company, I'm not going to go hire a lawyer, it's just going to antagonize them if I go out and hire one.
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They Fight And Ruin Injured People's Cases
Sometimes it doesn't agonize them. But here's the problem, when you file a worker's comp case or you report an injury immediately, your employer reports it to a workers comp insurance company. They have lawyers and staff, and everyday, they fight and ruin injured people's cases. They deny them benefits and they come up with reasons why they're not going to pay.
I even had a friend of mine call me once on a case. He says "hey I want to hire you" and I asked him you know what's going on and he told me they're paying all the bills they're paying all this time off work and they've already made him an offer. I sat down and calculated, looked at his how much he makes a week and then I looked at what comparable injuries settled for.
They actually offered him a settlement above what the averages. Usually when we're negotiating a settlement I start high, the insurance company starts low and we meet somewhere in the middle. Obviously, I want to get it as high as I can for my client but in that case and it's rare that this happens.
In that case I told him, John don't hire me, settle the case. You feel good, you're back at work, they paid you everything you're owed, they paid for your surgery and they're giving you a great lump sum settlement at the end of the case. You've been back to work for several months and you don't have any problems.
They Play With You
The problem is, though that is super rare, that seldom happens in workers comp cases these days. What will happen, a lot of the times is, they'll start smoothly and then as soon as they realize you have a serious injury or something that's going to become a problem that they can't just throw a couple thousand dollars at, they start moving their chess pieces where you can't see them. So it's like you are playing, you've only ever played tic-tac-toe or checkers and these guys know how to play chess.
Unfortunately, when you have a disputed case at the Commission, it's chess and then sometimes it's 3d chess. I'll tell you, I wouldn't go out and buy lumber and build my own house. I'm pretty handy, I know how to do carpentry and some basic stuff around the house. But I wouldn't build my own house. If a family member needed surgery, I wouldn't do surgery, I might give him first aid if we were out in the middle of the woods.
Deny Your Benefits
However, the truth is, you have one body and one life. If you get hurt, you don't know whether that injury is going to be serious, permanent and life-altering. Those injuries often feel the same at the beginning as the smaller injuries. If the company has any inkling that you are seriously hurt, nine times out of ten they're going to start angling to get rid of you and deny your benefits.
The sooner you get an attorney involved, the better off you probably are going to be. Now, in the interest of letting you know, that I'm not just saying this. I don't care if it's me or another attorney, if you want to call a different workers comp attorney, you should. I don't want you to call me unless you really want to call me. But what I do want is, I mean talking to a lawyer and getting the right lawyer is super important.
Reputation Of Injury Lawyers
I'm telling you this because my family lived it. I get calls every month several times a year with people who settled their case without an attorney. And it really ended up hurting them. They're still hurt the insurance company rushed him into a low ball settlement, got him to sign papers that hurt their case and now they're in a bad shape. So I know the joke is and the reputation for injury lawyers is that we're bad people and we're greedy and all this stuff.
I'm gonna tell you, I know that it's true. What I say is that all those lawyer jokes, they didn't just come out of thin air, they came out of people's experience with lawyers, so I get why you might be skeptical. But I will also tell you, that some of the best most moral hardworking people I've ever met were injury lawyers and I like to think I'm one of them. But there's others of them out there. I hope that makes sense to you. I hope that you'll consider talking to a lawyer rather than just handling it yourself.
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