Regardless of what kind of work we do, we all face some risk of being injured at work. While handling hundreds of workers compensation cases over the last decade, I have become convinced that, no matter how safe or boring you think your job is, accidents can always happen. For example, one person sustained bed bug bites while on a business trip and ended up with renal failure and heart failure due to medication prescribed to treat the reaction. Another man got locked in his work place and broke his ankle after escaping through the roof, lowering himself onto a work truck, and then jumping to the ground (I do not recommend this course of action if you end up locked in a building). I handled another case where an individual was seriously shocked when a lightning bolt stuck a nearby pole.
If, or when, you sustain an injury at work, you will likely go through the common inner debate about whether you should hire an attorney. This usually goes something like this:
Logical self: "I probably should contact an attorney because they are experts with these cases."
Frugal self: "But I'm a pretty smart person, and the attorney will take a percentage of my benefits anyway."
Logical self: "It would be really nice to know that I'm not going to mess anything up by saying something I shouldn't say or doing something I shouldn't do. It would also be nice to know exactly what benefits I am entitled to."
Frugal self: "But after the attorney takes a percentage of my benefits, I'm going to end up worse off than if I just handle this myself. I'll just try to handle this myself for now and, if things go bad, then I'll contact an attorney."
Anybody who has been in a situation where an attorney could be helpful has probably engaged in a silent conversation similar to this one. I get it! I do not like giving my money away any more than anybody else, unless I am confident it will be worth it. Let me tell you a secret... IT WILL BE WORTH IT TO CONTACT A GOOD ATTORNEY IF YOU ARE HURT AT WORK. Why? Because, regardless of how smart you are, trying to deal with the insurance company without a good attorney is kind of like this:
Most insurance adjusters will say all the right things to make you think they have your best interest in mind. However, after representing these insurance companies and working directly with these adjusters for almost ten years, I can assure you this is rarely the case. One of the number one priorities of these adjusters is to prevent the injured worker from hiring an attorney. This is not some hidden agenda either; this is something that is discussed openly and directly between the adjusters, their supervisors, and in-house counsel.
Why? Because the value of your case increases by 100%-500% simply by hiring a good attorney. This is no exaggeration! I have seen hundreds of legitimately injured workers settle cases for $1,500 or less even though their cases would have easily been worth $7,500-$15,000 if they had been represented.
Why is that? Because the adjuster who claims to have your best interests in mind will likely not voluntarily provide you mileage, reimbursement for out of pocket expenses, the proper medical treatment, compensation for missing work, and possibly even permanent partial disability benefits. In addition, that same friendly adjuster may base your compensation on an "estimated" compensation rate that just happens to be a fraction of what it should be. Furthermore, the adjuster will base your settlement offer on the opinion of a doctor who prepares the exact same disability rating for every patient, regardless of the severity of the injury or the ultimate prognosis.
Need another reason? These adjusters are determined to convince you to settle your case on a full and final basis for thousands of dollars less than its worth. They will cause you to feel like you have no other option but to accept their offer, threatening "or your case will be closed." They will fail to mention that you may be entitled to open medical benefits for the rest of your life in hopes that you'll sign away that right in ignorance.
Yes, you should hire an attorney! And, not just any attorney. The attorneys at Johnston Law PC are extremely familiar with workers compensation insurance carriers and know many of the adjusters personally. We know their tactics, we know their strategies, and we know how to help you receive all the benefits to which you are entitled. Don't be "that guy" who decides to wait until your workers compensation case has hit rock bottom before giving us a call. If you have been injured at work, give us a call at 816-482-7929 and schedule a free consultation.