It’s not a good idea to talk to anyone about your case. Sure, there are people with whom you may safely discuss your case, for instance, your spouse, but the better rule is: never discuss your case with anyone, except your lawyer and his staff. This applies to workers’ compensation cases as well as to other types of injury cases. Why?
The simple answer is that anything you say can be used against you in a court of law or other adjudicatory proceedings. Sound familiar? That’s because the foregoing statement is part of the Miranda warnings police are obligated to recite to persons under arrest. Spontaneous statements are admissible in criminal proceedings, and any statement, voluntary or not, is admissible in civil proceedings. (within certain parameters) which includes workers’ compensation and other tort cases.
Even if you make a statement about your case to your best friend, that friend is subject to subpoena and must truthfully disclose what you told her or face contempt. So – MUM is the word.
If my case is compensable, why do I need a lawyer?
Achieving compensability for your cases is only half the battle.
Take good note: insurance accompanies do not have your interests at heart. Period. Insurance companies are corporations, usually public, and their allegiance lies exclusively with the stock price of their company. Look at it this way: one does not run a profitable insurance company by paying claims.
Employers and insurance companies may like you to think they are paternal, willing and always ready to take care of you if you are a good and loyal worker. Unfortunately, in most cases, this is not true. You are replaceable, and they know it. And if it comes down to you or them, they will do whatever it takes to protect themselves. Of course, there are exceptions.
Given this reality, do not assume that just because you are receiving temporary compensation that the workers’ compensation insurance company will maximize your disability payment or make good on your other damages. To the contrary, it will usually hire attorneys to make sure it pays you the minimum.
This is why you need an experienced, aggressive lawyer fighting for your interests throughout the life of your claim. This is what the Attorney Offices of Thomas Gagne, P.A. promises you – an ally sincerely looking out for you.
Clients injured at work often ask me: in addition to my workers’ compensation benefits, may I sue my employer for negligence?
The answer, in most cases, is no.
Why? Because most state have adopted what is called “the exclusivity rule.”
This rule limits an injured employee’s legal recourse solely to workers’ compensation. The fact that the employer may have been negligent is irrelevant. The justification for this rule lies deeply within the genesis of workers’ compensation law.
Before the advent of workers’ compensation, pursuing a negligence claim against the employer was the only remedy available to employees who suffered on the job injuries. This state of affairs resulted in uncertain relief for the employee (because she had to prove negligence) and, in most cases , intolerable expense for the employer.
Workers’ compensation systems killed two birds with one stone. The new law abolished the need to prove negligence thus making it “easier” for the injured employee to garner benefits, and it reduced employers’ legal expenses by streamlining the adjudicatory process. Among other things, evidentiary requirements were relaxed, and juries were replaced by commissioners.
The new law, which made its debut early in the twentieth century, also served as a partial palliative to the general labor unrest indicative of industrial and labor relations at the time.
Noncompensability means that your workers’ compensation case has not been “accepted” by your employer’s workers’ compensation insurance carrier, for one or more reasons. There are several legal and factual defenses an insurance company might raise to block your benefits. On the other hand, sometimes a carrier will automatically deny your claim “pending investigation”, which means that the carrier may accept your claim in the future if facts turn up that are beneficial to your case.
This is one of the reasons why an injured employee needs the assistance of a competent attorney well versed in workers’ compensation law and practice. Just because a carrier raises a defense does not mean that’s the end of the matter. There are many ways to defeat defenses, too many to go into here, and they all depends on a careful analysis of the totality of the facts and circumstances of your case. Remember, there is no magic bullet. All legal cases are different in the detail.
It’s crucial our auto or workers’ compensation clients see and are treated by the correct medical provider, given his or her particular condition. Many of my clients, before they see us, are satisfied with their family doctor, when she may not be the optimal medical provider for the case. Doctors are often not unbiased and would rather treat a patient themselves rather than give up control of the patient’s therapy to another medical professional. (more…)