Money related questions:
Most personal injury lawyers work on what is called a “contingency fee” basis, meaning we only get paid if we get you money. If a lawyer wants to charge you up front on a personal injury matter, you may want to look at that carefully. They may be new to handling personal injury matters or don’t have the resources to handle your claim. It’s important that a lawyer handling a personal injury claim is well funded to properly put all the pieces in place to maximize your recovery. Northland Injury Law never charges any money up front and only gets paid if we get you money.
Employer/work related questions:
In workers compensation, you are not suing your employer. As a matter of fact, you can’t sue your employer, you’re limited to the work comp system. You have already made a work comp claim and now you have to decide if you want to go it alone or have help in maximizing the system. If your employer has been treating you well enough during your comp claim, getting a lawyer should not change that. If your employer has been a problem during your comp claim, then a lawyer getting involved can sometimes back them off. An employer that retaliates against you for making a work comp claim could face a completely different legal claim from you for this harassment. Keep in mind, that you still have to abide by the work comp doctor’s restrictions on your ability to work. So if the work comp doctor says you can go to work with certain restrictions, then you must go to work or you could be fired and lose your work comp benefits. If the work comp doctor puts you completely off work, then you are justified in not going to work. If an employer tries to have you work outside your restrictions, this is not allowed and you very well need a lawyer to step in at that point.
Drug Test related questions:
Drug tests will likely be a part of the workers’ compensation process. If the employer has a drug testing policy on workers’ compensation claims, or if they have reason to believe drugs played a role in your injury, then you will be required to take the drug test. However, if your drug test is a random selection and there is no prior history of testing by your employer, then you could potentially show that your employer is retaliating specifically against you for making a workers’ compensation claim. However, drug testing is usually a normal part of the workers’ compensation process.
In the event of a failed drug test, your workers’ compensation benefits will be reduced. In Missouri, depending on your situation, it can result in up to a 50% reduction of your workers’ compensation benefits. If your drug test shows that drugs played a role in the injury, your benefits will be denied.
TTD & Benefits related questions:
To obtain temporary total disability benefits (TTD), you first need a workers’ compensation doctor to provide you with restrictions that your employer cannot accommodate or that doctor puts you completely off work. Only a doctor authorized by the work comp insurance company can give you restrictions your employer must abide by. If you go to a personal doctor and he gives you a note to be off work, your employer does not have to put you off work because of this note. An employer does not have to pay you for the first three days you miss work because of an injury. However, if you miss more than 14 days, then they have to pay for those first three days.
Medical Treatment related questions:
The workers’ compensation system is slow and conservative with its treatment. Since you are forced to stay in the realm of workers’ compensation treatment options provided by your employer, obtaining a second opinion can be difficult. Employers are under no obligation to pay for a second opinion. Sometimes, if asked, they will go ahead and get you a second opinion. Otherwise, you’re on your own to try and get a second opinion but the employer is not bound by it. Obtaining a second opinion requires finding a doctor who is willing to work with someone who’s injury arises from a workers’ comp injury. Doctors may be hesitant to provide second opinions because health insurance companies don’t want to pay for medical care that arises from work-related incidents. If a lawyer gets involved, we may be able to help apply pressure so you can obtain a second opinion. We can also have you seen by one of our doctor’s for an independent medical examination and then use that doctor’s opinions to fight for more evaluation and treatment for you.
Process related questions:
After you’ve report your work injury to your employer, it is their duty to file a notice of injury with the Workers’ Compensation Division. It is also their duty to get you medical care. They get to choose and direct your medical care, but they must get you care. If an employer denies a work comp claim or won’t turn the claim into their insurance company, at that point you have to take it upon yourself to file a claim. Under law, the employer is supposed to have posted the information regarding the work comp insurance company. If this information is available, you can reach out directly to them to file your claim. If this information is not available, you can file your claim with the workers compensation division. This is also a point at which you may want to reach out to a lawyer to see what your options are.