Workers’ Comp FAQs
Q: How much does it cost to go to hearing in a workers’ compensation case?
A: There is never a fee unless we obtain a lump sum settlement or wage loss benefits in court, or if we successfully defend against the insurance company from stopping your benefits in court. We then ask for the judge to approve our fee, which is 20% in both cases. The costs of the cases are paid for by us, which includes the transcripts and the medical records or medical depositions that are required to litigate a case.
Q: How long does a workers’ compensation case take?
A: Usually, if it’s litigated fully, it will take about a year, but many cases settle prior to that.
Q: Can I work and get workers’ compensation at the same time?
A: Yes, if you are under restrictions as a result of your work-injury and are not earning or working as many hours as before your injury, then you are entitled to a partial workers’ compensation wage loss check for the difference.
Q: Do I have to have a nurse case manager come with me to my doctor’s appointment?
A: No. The nurse case manager only has the right to see that you have attended your appointment, but you do not have to speak with him or her, nor do you need to allow the nurse to go in with you to your appointment.
Q: Can the insurance company just stop my workers’ compensation benefits?
A: Generally not. A Notice of Temporary Compensation Payable enables the insurance company to grant benefits for up to 90 days and then stop without accepting liability. However, once the 90 days have passed, the insurance company cannot unilaterally stop your wage loss checks, and instead must bring your case before a Workers’ Compensation Judge to request “supersedeas,” or permission to stop payment of benefits. This cessation only occurs after a hearing and you are provided the opportunity to present medical evidence and a statement to the judge. It is important that you have an experienced workers’ compensation attorney who is familiar with the process in order to defend your right to benefits.
Q: Do I have to attend the workers’ compensation hearings?
A: Yes. We believe it is very important to demonstrate to the judge that you are concerned and let the judge get to know you as a person. However, if you are out of state on a permanent basis, we can arrange for testimony by telephone.
Q: Can I get both workers’ compensation and unemployment compensation?
A: You can get unemployment compensation while you are waiting to get workers’ compensation, but the insurance company will take a credit/offset for it if you are granted workers’ compensation wage loss benefits.
Q: Can I get both Social Security Disability and workers’ compensation?
A: Yes, although the Social Security Disability is reduced while you are getting workers’ compensation.
Q: If I get a Notice of Ability to Return to Work, does that mean my workers’ compensation benefits stop or I have to go to work?
A: No, not necessarily. Call us immediately if you get one of these notices, however. This notice is a statement by either your doctor or the insurance company doctor stating that he or she thinks you can perform some type of work, whether it is modified duty or full duty work. If your employer offers you a job, it is important, in many cases, to give it a try and also absolutely critical that you have your doctor put in writing what your restrictions are. Please contact us immediately should this situation occur.
Q: Can workers’ compensation benefits go on forever?
A: Generally not, except for catastrophic injuries. In most cases workers’ compensation wage loss benefits are generally limited to a maximum of 604 weeks or about 11.5 years. Most cases end before that time as the insurance company will usually try to find ways to limit your benefits.
Q: Do I have to have a lawyer at a hearing?
A: Because the workers’ compensation law is complicated and the insurance company will have a lawyer, it is important for you to be represented by someone who knows the law and is a capable advocate for you.
Q: What is my workers’ compensation case worth?
A: The value of the case depends on many factors, including the nature of your injury, the support of your doctor, your work wages when you were injured, how long you have worked for your employer, and many other factors. We can give you a much better idea of your case’s value once we have reviewed the particulars of your case.
Q: The insurance adjuster says the lawyers just make money on settlements and it is better to do it myself. Is this true?
A: No. Our firm will almost always obtain a better value for our clients and also address many other issues, such as medical treatment, coordination with resignation, and coordination with Social Security Disability benefits. We find that the insurance company will generally try to undervalue cases where the injured worker is unrepresented.
Q: Can I work after I settle my workers’ compensation case?
A: Yes. Once the settlement hearing, which is known as a Compromise and Release Agreement hearing, is held and the judge renders a decision approving it, you can work and make as much money as you are able to.
Q: Do insurance companies hire private investigators to take pictures of me, and is this practice legal?
A: Surveillance does occur, and the insurance company may hire a private investigator to follow you and take pictures or video of you. It may call the investigator in to testify against you. It is always very important to be within the written restrictions that your doctor provides and follow your restrictions at all times. As long as you are following these restrictions, you will be fine. The investigators cannot go on your private property, but, otherwise, they can do anything else to observe you or learn about you, including asking questions of your neighbors. This practice is very distressing, but, unfortunately, they are allowed under the law. An important reminder is that “a picture is worth a thousand words” and being filmed or pictured not following your restrictions could significantly impact your case and possible settlement value.
Q: What can I expect of my workers’ compensation attorney?
A: We promise that we will return phone calls within 24 hours, that we will listen to your concerns, and that we will follow up in whatever needs to be done, including getting all medical records and preparing you for hearing if necessary. We will also give you our best professional advice, but let you make the decisions that you deem are best. We will be proactive on your behalf and do everything possible to ensure that we have a successful outcome. We will always answer questions, and, above all, we will always put your interests first. We will use our experience, training, and intelligence to ensure a positive outcome for you.
Turn to Us: Contact One Of Our Harrisburg Workers’ Compensation Lawyers
To learn more about our workers’ compensation services, contact Marzzacco Niven & Associates to speak with a lawyer. Initial consultations are always free. You can reach us by phone at 717-260-3580. You can also reach us via email.