YOUR FIRST PRIORITY – GETTING THE HIGHEST RECOVERY
Your number one priority is to get the maximum/highest recovery possible. Under workers’ compensation, you are never made “whole,” so you need to make sure you get the most that you can to head off any financial or health disasters. There are two parts of getting the highest recovery: medical and financial. Of the two, the most important is your health.
The obvious goal is to get your health back to where it was prior to the accident. The best steps to take to protect your health:
1) You want to get treatment as soon as possible
2) If you continue having medical problems, continue to complain to the workers’ compensation doctor, and insist on treatment.
3) If you think your workers’ compensation physician is not taking your interests to heart, you are entitled to a second opinion.
4) There are ways, though they are very hard, to change your treating physician.
5) Discuss with your attorney how to get the best medical treatment possible in your particular case.
The second part of getting the highest recovery is financial. First, you need to see if you have any other types of non-workers’ compensation benefits or claims you may have in addition to your workers’ compensation claim. If you are in an auto accident at work and a non-coworker was at fault, this is an auto personal injury claim. The equipment you were using was defective. This is a products liability claim. If you were in a parking lot owned by someone that’s not your employer, you may have a premise liability claim. Other non-workers’ compensation benefits are Social Security, short term disability, long term disability, retirement benefits with your employer, or possibly unemployment benefits. It’s important to coordinate all of these aspects with your workers’ compensation claim to make sure you get the most money available. A work injury is financially devastating. Your paycheck is automatically cut by two thirds but your bills and financial obligations are not cut by two thirds. Additionally, if your claim is denied, you may be looking at six months before you have a hearing and a decision is rendered and you begin to receive a weekly check. All this puts injured workers behind in their bills, their mortgages, and their car payments. So, if there’s any way to make you “whole” it would be ideal to search out all avenues and not just workers’ compensation.
Second, maximize the workers’ compensation financial benefits. Obviously, to maximize the financial aspect of your workers’ compensation claim, follow the tips in this book so that there is no “gray” area in your case so the workers’ compensation insurance adjuster has to send your financial weekly payments to you.
Third, coordinate the settlement of your workers’ compensation benefits with the other types of benefits you may have. There may come a time in your case where it will be best for you to settle your workers’ compensation claim while coordinating it with the other types of benefits you have. This is a complicated process of weighing the pros and cons. The consequences can be devastating if the settlement is not done properly. An individual came into my office, recently, who had lost his left leg at the knee. He was very proud that he had settled his workers’ compensation claim for $75,000 without an attorney. However, he didn’t understand why, when he was awarded Social Security disability benefits, he wasn’t getting the correct monthly check from Social Security. Social Security disability is offset by any workers’ compensation benefits received. Unfortunately, language that should have been in his workers’ compensation settlement documents protecting his Social Security benefits and his Medicare benefits were not in there. He actually settled, in effect, for nothing because his $75,000 was counted as his Social Security monthly check and he would not get the full amount from Social Security for over five years. There are similar complications with settling personal injury claims while on workers’ compensation. Workers’ compensation has a lien on any personal injury claim.
It is best to seek out legal advice when attempting to settle your claims to maximize the most you can get. There is no doubt in my mind that if an injured person hires an experienced workers’ compensation attorney, he or she will get the maximum recovery.