FAQ – What if my workers’ comp check is late?

One of the most frequent calls I receive from my workers’ comp clients is that their workers’ compensation check is late. Unfortunately, (and I don’t believe that this is the client’s fault), the calls I receive are from the same client’s again and again. This means that the same insurance companies are routinely late in processing their weekly workers’ comp checks.

Is this surprising? Not at all. If you think about it, the insurance companies job is to make being on workers’ comp as difficult as possible. That way, when the time comes to try and settle your case, you will be thinking in the back of your head about all those late checks and how you just want that to be over. When your weekly workers’ comp check is late, it puts you and your family in financial jeopardy. I understand that the injured worker depends on these checks to pay their bills and feed their family. A check that is a week late can have devastating effects on an injured worker and their family.

Unfortunately, the insurance companies know this, so they will do everything they can to push the limits of the law.

What can you do if your check is late? If it is a routine occurrence, I recommend that you hire a lawyer. If nothing else, you would then have someone you can call when the check doesn’t come in and they can bother the insurance company until you receive your check. If the check is more than 14 days late, then you are entitled to a 10% penalty on the amount that is late by more than 14 days.

So, in a nutshell, here is what you do if your check is late:

  1. Determine whether there was a holiday that would have delayed the mail.  This frequently is a cause of late checks.
  2. Look to the history of your payments. Is this an isolated incident, or a more frequent problem. You may want to keep a log of your checks and the dates you received them since your case was opened.
  3. If this is an ongoing problem, or if checks are longer than 14 days late, you need to contact a workers’ compensation lawyer.
  4. Once you have a lawyer, contact them. My office will call the adjuster once or twice a day until the client receives their check or we receive verification that the checks have been paid on time.

 

Why do I need a lawyer for my Workers Comp case?

Lot’s of people believe that they have no need for a Workers Comp lawyer.  This could be for a number of reasons, including:  they don’t think they have a claim or don’t wish to file a claim, they believe that the system is “fair” and they they can handle their case on their own, or perhaps they just don’t like attorneys and don’t want to hire one.  Still others are scared of some sort of retaliation by their employer (which is illegal, by the way).

Obviously, I am a bit biased here, but if you have been injured at work, and there is any chance at all that you might miss a prolonged period of work, I strongly recommend that you contact a lawyer.  Here are a couple of reasons why:

  1. Worker’s Comp lawyers generally will not charge you for the initial consultation
  2. There are a lot of “issues” or “disputes” that might arise that would most people won’t fully comprehend
  3. A lawyer can help you the most when they have been involved from the very beginning – i.e. they can coach you through the recorded statement and other communications with the insurance company
  4. They can answer your questions so that even if you decide to proceed without a lawyer, you will have information you need

Although workers comp may appear to be fairly straight-forward and simple, there are a number of “disputes” that can arise during the course of your case.  One dispute might be as to the amount of your weekly average wage, another might be as to your right to be compensated at all.

When the employer has workers comp claims made against it, the insurance company will increase the insurance premiums it collects to cover the increased risk of future claims or payouts.  Accordingly, the employer has a substantial incentive to decrease the number of claims filed against it, and assist in getting them settled for as little as possible – leading to conflict between the worker and the employer when there is a potential claim.

On the flip side, the insurance company makes money by paying out as little money as possible.  They have lots of very smart attorneys working for them to interpret the rules and statutes in a way that most favors the insurance company – which leads to lots of “disputes”.

Many people feel that they don’t need an attorney if the insurance company accepts their claim.  However, even in those cases where liability is undisputed, the lawyers working for the insurance company will make sure that you are paid the least amount possible – sometimes much less than you would receive with competent counsel.

If you have been injured at work and aren’t sure about your rights, give us a call at (919) 460-5422 for a free consultation.

NC Workers Comp Secrets – You were sent to a doctor for a reason

After you file your Workers Compensation claim in North Carolina, the insurance carrier has several choices – they can either deny your claim (in which case we strongly recommend that you contact a workers comp lawyer immediately), or they will accept liability for your claim.

If the insurance company accepts liability for your claim, then they have the option to direct your medical care.  That means that they can and will tell you which doctors to see for your injuries and medical treatment.  The insurance companies have been doing this for a long time, and they know which doctors will work with them to get you to back to work quickly (even if that is not what is right for you) and which ones will listen carefully when you tell them that you don’t think you can do your job.  Does the insurance company want you to see a good doctor?  Of course.  But the insurance company also wants you to see a doctor that will take their side in most disputes, and will try to get you back to work as soon as possible.

So the question remains, what to do if you disagree with the opinion of the doctor that the insurance company selected? In certain situations, (such as if you have been released to work but don’t feel like you can still do your job), you are entitled to seek a second opinion from a doctor of your own choosing.  In addition, if you receive a “permanent partial disability” rating, but you are not satisfied with your rating, then you may seek a second opinion under NC Statute 97-27(b).

The bottom line here is that if you are told something by your insurance company or adjuster – take it with a grain of salt.  Many adjusters will tell you that you have to go to their doctor and are not entitled to a second opinion.  This is simply not true.  If you have questions about your rights, than seek out a workers compensation attorney that can answer your questions.