We do a lot of things to help make people’s claims more valuable. The moment somebody comes into my office, we meet with him. If they are not able to come into the office, we send our investigator out to meet with them, to answer any questions, and to get the paperwork squared away.
From that moment, we start calling the insurance companies to get the benefits that our clients are entitled to. If we don’t get the benefits that are requested then we immediately file the “petition for benefits,” which is a lawsuit under workers’ compensation to help get them compensated. We continually keep in contact with our clients for status updates as well.
We talk with the doctor’s office, compile medical records, and compile evidence about how the incident occurred. We talk to witnesses, if necessary, and set deposition as needed. Ultimately, we go to mediation, then, in which we either resolve the claim in its entirety or we resolve the issues.
If the claim is resolved in it’s entirety, we wait for the settlement documents to come in. Usually, the settlement documents in a workers’ compensation case are at least 20 to 30 pages long.
We review those packages and make corrections if necessary. We then prepare additional documents for approval by a judge of their settlement. We get their approval, then we submit the document to the other side, and they submit them to the judge. After the judge approves everything, checks are issued.
This really is a time-intensive process. However, we don’t charge our clients based on the hours; we charge them based on the benefits procured for them. Our fee is entirely contingency based, which means that if we don’t get them any benefits, they don’t pay a dime.
In a Normal Case, Does Improvement Over Time Matter?
Ultimately, that’s what maximum medical improvement (MMI) is. At this point in time, the doctor says, “This is as healthy as you’re going to get; you’re not going to get any better.”
Therefore, not only does he give an impairment rating that aligns with the Florida Impairment Rating Guidelines; he further tells you what your work restrictions are, and what your general restrictions are.
If the doctor says, for example, you have a 5 percent disability rating, according to the Florida Impairment Rating Guidelines and you can’t lift more than 20 pounds when you’re at MMI then these restrictions are permanent.
What Happens if Your Job Conflicts with Your Ability?
If your employer cannot accommodate your maximum medical improvement work restrictions, you’ll have to look for work elsewhere.
Do People Have Trouble Finding Work if They’re Disabled? Is This Not a Factor?
Usually, this depends on their specific disabilities. If they are in the realm of being permanently and totally disabled, or PTD, which means they cannot work at all for the rest of their lives, then they’re virtually unemployable.
However, people who are not permanently and totally disabled, who have disabilities that state they can’t lift more than 10 pounds or stand for more than an hour, for example, are employable. However, people should leave jobs and find other jobs that will accommodate their restrictions. Fortunately, down here in Florida, they find them relatively quickly.
Do You Spend Thousands of Dollars on a Typical Case?
No, I wouldn’t say that we invest thousands on the case. We spend a couple of hundred dollars on a typical case.
If we have to go to what is called a final hearing, which is a trial under workers’ compensation law, then we must generally spend thousands on the case. Going to a trial on a workers’ compensation case is exceptionally rare. However, it does happen.
The expenses in a typical workers’ compensation case lie in taking the deposition of the employer, taking the depositions of witnesses, taking the deposition of the insurance carrier, taking the depositions of the doctors, ordering the transcripts if there’s video depositions, ordering the video depots, ordering the medical records, and hiring an independent medical examiner to examine the client.
These are generally the major expenses for a workers’ compensation case.
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