Injured at work?
Lekki Hill Duprey & Whitton, PC has been representing injured workers in the North Country for over 40 years.
A work accident can have a devastating impact on the injured worker and his or her family. Our experience allows us to guide our clients through the process with compassion and expertise. We can help you get the wage replacement benefits and medical treatment you need.
What is the most important thing I should do if I get hurt?
Seek emergency medical treatment if needed and give written notice of the accident to your employer as soon as possible. Notice of a work accident must be given in writing within 30 days of the accident.
Most employers utilize an accident reporting system, but if no system exists, report to the employer that an injury has occurred in writing. Your written notice should include your name and address, the date, time, and place of the injury, a description of how the injury happened, and what body sites were affected. The report must be signed by the injured worker.
In some situations, verbal notice will suffice, but written notice is always the safer course of action. There is a longer reporting period for claims that are considered occupational diseases.
Although there are certain circumstances in which late notice can be excused, failure to give a timely report of injury can result in the claim being barred.
What am I entitled to after I get hurt at work?
Most Workers’ Compensation claims include two basic types of benefits:
1. the right to cash wage replacement benefits while you are out of work as a result of your work injury, and
2. medical care and treatment at no cost to you for your work injury, and travel expense reimbursement for your medical treatment.
Each case is different, and we will make sure you receive all of the benefits the circumstance of your particular case requires.
What types of injuries qualify for a workers’ compensation claim?
The most common type of work injury occurs because of an accident sustained in the course of employment. However, work injuries also include illness, disease, or other conditions that result from the nature of the employment, such as overuse or repetitive stress injuries like carpal tunnel syndrome, a degenerative back condition, or occupational hearing loss.
Death benefits to a surviving spouse or dependents may be available when an injured worker dies as a result of the work injury.
What if I have a pre-existing condition?
Certainly, pre-existing conditions can complicate matters, but how a pre-existing condition will affect a claim depends primarily on whether some distinctive feature of the employment acted on the pre-existing condition to cause a disability that did not exist previously.
For example, you may have experienced back problems in the past and may even have undergone medical treatment for your back, but nevertheless have been able to perform all aspects of your job. Then, a work injury occurs that aggravates your back problems, requires more medical treatment, and disables you to the extent that you are unable to work.
We will look carefully at your medical records and work to get your claim established even where a pre-existing condition exists.
Can I choose my own doctor?
The injured worker is free to choose his or her own doctor as long as that doctor accepts workers’ compensation. Medical treatment is provided at no cost to the injured worker, and a provider is prohibited from seeking payment for a work injury directly from the injured worker.
In exchange, the workers’ compensation system attempts to maximize care with the goal of returning the claimant to work by requiring doctors to follow the Medical Treatment Guidelines, which include a standard of care for treatment.
The Medical Treatment Guidelines provide for certain pre-authorized medical services. There is a procedure for doctors to follow if they wish to obtain authorization for treatments falling outside of the guidelines.
Authorization of medical treatment is often the source of controversy in workers’ compensation claims, and there are options available to claimants to obtain approval for treatments even when the insurance carrier tries to deny it. This is not necessarily something an injured worker would want to handle without the assistance of an experienced attorney.
How do I file a Workers’ Compensation claim?
Once you have given notice to your employer of the work injury, you will need to file your claim with the Workers’ Compensation Board. It is important to contact a workers’ compensation lawyer as soon after an accident takes place as possible so that your claim is properly and timely filed.
Claims must be filed within two years of the accident. Failure to timely file your claim will bar any rights to seek workers’ compensation benefits for that injury. There are no grounds for excusing a failure to timely file your workers’ compensation claim.
How are my wage loss benefits calculated?
Generally, wage replacement benefits equal about 2/3 of the injured worker’s average weekly gross pay. Your average weekly wage will be set in the early stages of your case and will be the basis for the calculation of all wage replacement benefits paid to you for the life of your claim.
There are various methods for calculating average weekly wage depending on the number of days per week worked, whether the employee is full-time or part-time employed, seasonal workers, workers with multiple employers, and other factors.
There are statutory maximum and minimum weekly benefit caps based on the date of the accident. Wage replacement benefits are tax-free.
What if I am unable to return to my job?
Options are available for injured workers whose injuries or resulting limitations prevent them from being able to return to their jobs. We can help you determine which option is best for you.
Our firm is also experienced in handling Social Security Disability claims, and we can help you determine if filing for benefits would be right for you.
Should I settle my case?
Although not all workers’ compensation cases end in a settlement, there are many reasons why a settlement may be a good idea for you.
We can analyze your case under the different types of settlements that are available under the Workers’ Compensation law and help you decide if one is right for you.
Some settlements allow for the medical treatment portion of your case to remain open for your lifetime, and some settlements close out your case completely. We will negotiate with the insurance company to maximize your settlement and plan for your future well-being.
What can a workers’ compensation attorney do for me?
Although some information will be provided to you by your employer and its insurance carrier following a work injury, many benefits are not available to a claimant unless a formal request to the Workers’ Compensation Board is made.
We handle all aspects of Workers’ Compensation claims, including hearings, trial, medical testimony, appeals, and obtaining settlements.
If your claim is denied by the insurance company, we will work to get it established. We will work with your adjuster at the insurance company to resolve issues as they arise, and if a resolution is not possible, we will bring the matter before a Judge at a hearing for a determination.
Wage loss benefits are not always automatically paid by the insurance company if an injured worker is unable to work following a work injury. We will work to get you paid for your lost time and will make sure the insurance carrier is paying you the correct amount for the correct period of time.
Sometimes, insurance carriers deny authorization for medical treatment, even when your doctor feels the treatment is appropriate. In the event of a dispute between your doctor and the insurance company over medical treatment, we will work to get all of the necessary information before the Judge so that a determination can be made.
Our goal is to take the worry and stress of navigating the workers’ compensation system off your shoulders so that you can focus on getting well and returning to work.
The insurance carrier will have its own attorney, and you should, too.
How does a workers’ compensation attorney get paid?
We do not charge you out-of-pocket to represent you in your claim. We only get paid from money the insurance company pays to you. We will not collect a retainer or send you a bill for our representation.
We represent workers’ compensation claimants even when no attorney fee is anticipated. We will discuss how and when attorney fees are paid early on in our representation so that you will know what to expect.