The following is a sample of Frequently Asked Questions.
Q: Why do I need an attorney for my workers’ comp case if my claim was accepted?
A: Many people with accepted claims are not receiving the benefits they are legally entitled to. For example, requests for treatment are routinely denied or modified; if you are entitled to temporary disability, that benefit is commonly underpaid because the insurance company does not properly take into account sources of income such as overtime; if permanent disability becomes an issue, it is essential that you have an attorney in your corner making sure appropriate evidence is obtained in order to maximize the benefits you may be entitled to. It is also crucial to have the advice of an attorney before signing any settlement documents that will effect your rights in the future.
Q: How much does it cost to have an attorney represent me in my workers’ comp. case?
A: The fees in workers’ comp cases usually range from twelve to fifteen percent of what the attorney recovers for the injured worker. There are, however, certain kinds of petitions (such as a petition alleging the employer discriminated against the injured worker or alleging that the employer engaged in serious and willful misconduct) which, if successful, may result in a higher fee for the amounts received as a result of litigating that issue. All fees must be approved by a workers’ compensation judge before they can be paid to the attorney.
Q: How long will it take to get my case resolved?
A: Usually, it takes about a year to two years to resolve a case. However, the time it takes to resolve a case depends upon many factors such as the seriousness of the injury, how long it takes for the injured worker to become permanent and stationary, whether the claim is accepted or denied and whether medical treatment is routinely delayed or denied.
Q: I settled a workers’ comp case with a lifetime award of medical treatment but the insurance company is now denying authorization for treatment. What should I do?
A: It has become much more difficult to obtain medical treatment through workers’ compensation due to the recent “reform” of the system in California. However, all is not lost. There is a provision in the law to allow an attorney to be paid on an hourly basis by the insurance company for services rendered to enforce an award of medical treatment. So an attorney can challenge a denial of authorization for treatment at the Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board.
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