When meeting with your workers’ compensation attorney for the first time, either in person or over the telephone, you will no doubt have a number of questions, as you should. Your new attorney will also have a number of questions for you, and it will make your consultation much more productive if you are prepared to answer these five questions regarding your potential work injury case:
(1) Where, when and how were you injured at work?
- Most people think that your injury or impairment must occur at a specific location or job site in order to qualify you for disability benefits and medical treatment. In fact, many work-related injuries occur while performing work activities on a job site, while performing an errand for the employer, while conducting the employers’ business at another location, or otherwise being injured in what is called the “course and scope of employment.” There are many work situations which are within the “course and scope of employment” that don’t occur to people, so they assume they are not covered by workers’ compensation insurance. You should be prepared to discuss with the Law Offices of Marc Francis the facts and circumstances surrounding your injury or impairment in order to determine whether you are entitled to disability benefits and/or medical treatment for your work injury.
- The Labor Code of the State of California recognizes both specific and cumulative injuries. A specific injury might happen when you lift a box and feel back pain, or fall down a flight of stairs and break your leg, or you are hit on the head by an object at a construction site or other workplace. A cumulative injury occurs over time as a result of repetitive activity and can effect numerous parts of your body and/or body systems such as wrists, elbows, shoulders, knees, feet and ankles, and other parts.
- Injuries in the workplace can also occur as the result of exposure to toxic chemicals, smoke, loud noises, dust, or other irritants to your body.
(2) What parts of your body, or what body systems, have been injured or impaired?
- Some workplace injuries involve only a single body part or system, such as a broken arm or leg, but oftentimes more than one body part or system are involved and the case becomes more complicated. You should be prepared to discuss ALL of the problems that you are having that you relate to your work injury. Have you, for example, developed problems with your right shoulder from over using it after you injured your left shoulder at work? Have you experienced side-effects from medications prescribed for your work injury? These types of problems may be considered “compensable consequences” of your work injury and need for medical treatment, and may be covered as well by workers’ compensation insurance.
(3) Have you lost time from work because of your injury or impairment?
- If you are taken off work by your doctor for your work injury, you are entitled to temporary total disability (TTD) payments from your employer’s workers’ compensation insurance carrier. Determining your correct TTD rate can be complicated, and the Law Offices of Marc Francis will assist in ensuring you receive all TTD payments owed to you under California’s workers’ compensation law.
(4) Who is your treating doctor, or other health care providers, and what treatment have you received so far for your work injury or impairment?
- Have you had problems communicating with health care providers you may have seen at the request of your employers’ workers’ compensation insurance carrier? Have necessary diagnostic tests been done? How about referrals to appropriate medical specialists, such as orthopedic surgeons, pain management specialists, neurologists, internal medicine specialists, or dermatologists if you have had surgical scarring or other skin problems such as dermatitis from handling chemicals or toxic substances? Has the insurance carrier denied, through their utilization review system, medical treatment recommended for you by your treating doctor? The Law Offices of Marc Francis can assist you with with the appeals process provided for under California’s workers compensation law to assist you in securing the medical treatment you need.
(5) Have you seen a QME?
- A Qualified Medical Evaluator, or QME, is a physician who will not treat you but who reviews your case, examines you, and prepares a report which will be very important in determining your need for future medical treatment and your permanent disability rating which is critical in determining the value of your case. The process of selecting your QME is a complicated one, and the Law Offices of Marc Francis can assist you by recommending the best possible physician or physicians to prepare expert opinions and reports in your case.
To assist in providing answers to these important questions you should bring with you to your first meeting with attorney Marc Francis the following items, if available to you. Don’t worry if you don’t have all the items listed below, but bring what you have.
(1) All correspondence from the employer or their workers’ compensation insurance carrier.
(2) Any and all medical reports in your possession.
(3) Any injury reports, claim forms, or other documents relating to your work injury.
(4) Any unpaid medical expenses relating to your work injury. The Law offices of Marc Francis will assist you in securing reimbursement from the insurance carrier for appropriate expenses, including mileage to and from your doctors, physical therapy, pharmacy, or other medical-related travel.
Searching for and finding the best Sonoma County workers’ comp lawyer can take both time and effort, but it is well worth it to find the attorney you feel can best represent your case. The Law Offices of Marc Francis can answer all of your questions and demystify a confusing, complicated workers’ compensation system.