March 23, 2017

Injured Workers Suffers Due to Insurance Company Tactics

This is a video from a TV news report in Michigan but the issues raised are the same as what we face here in Georgia.  Workers’ compensation insurance companies frequently send claimants to “independent” medical examinations that result in bogus diagnoses and unconscionable claim denials.

I wrote about this issue on this blog back in February – this video clip shows the human tragedy that can occur when a claimant gets railroaded.

“Independent” Medical Exams Scheduled by the Insurance Company are Rarely Legitimate

Funny Doctor breaks the bad newsA very common tactic used by workers’compensation insurance companies to cut off your benefits involves the use of something called an “independent medical exam” or IME.  As you might guess, in my experience these medical evaluations are rarely independent and they often serve no purpose other than medical support for termination of benefits.

Fortunately, most of the State Board judges that consider workers’ comp issues understand how the IME game works, and they look at these results with a very critical eye, but insurance adjusters continue to use this practice as a matter of course.

When I get an IME notice, the first thing I will look for is the name of the examining doctor.  There are a number of physicians out there who work extensively for the insurance industry and in almost every file sent to one of these doctors, the resulting report will minimize the extent and nature of the work injury, question the relation of injury to the accident at work , and suggest that a full duty return to work is appropriate.

Because the insurance company has the right to send you out for one of these biased IMEs, you have no choice but to go.  I can usually predict what the forthcoming report will say and that the insurance company is planning to try to cut you off, so I gear up to request a hearing challenging the proposed cut off.

The file will end up on the desk of a defense lawyer who I most likely know.  He or she and I will talk and acknowledge that the insurance IME was a waste of time and we will either start to discuss settlement, or try to agree on a more unbiased doctor to see you. [Read more…]

Is a Private Investigator Following You?

private investigatorOver the years I have written articles and recorded videos about insurance company surveillance. As I explain to all of my work injury clients, the minute you give notice of your on-the-job injury to your employer, there is a good chance that your employer’s insurance company will hire a private investigator to follow you, take photos and videos, or even engage you in conversation at a store or doctor’s office in an effort to undermine your claim.

I tell you this not to make you paranoid but to reveal to you the reality of workers’ compensation practice in Georgia.

As you may know if you have read my biography, back in the 1990’s I worked for a large insurance defense law firm located in midtown Atlanta. The lawyers at this firm were and are zealous advocates for their clients and they are very skilled attorneys.  I know from firsthand experience how employers and their insurance companies fight claims.

Your Employer Does Not Believe Your Work Injury Claim is Legitimate

I can also tell you that most of the employer clients and insurance adjusters I spoke to believed sincerely that just about all workers’ compensation claimants exaggerate or completely faked their injuries.  Never forget that employers and insurance companies view your on-the-job injury as an expense to be managed and controlled.  I believe that this attitude remains the prevailing thought process today. Even if a particular insurance defense attorney personally feels that your injury is legitimate, that attorney is paid to contest your claim, not to debate the merits of your case with an insurance adjuster or company owner. [Read more…]

What is a Deposition in a Georgia Work Injury Claim?

What does it mean to be deposed in your Georgia workers’ compensation injury claim?  Should you be concerned if you have to testify at a deposition?

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Under Georgia law, both sides – you, and your employer – are allowed to ask questions to the opposing side.  Your lawyer, for example, may depose a witness to your accident, or we may depose your supervisor if there are questions about notice of injury.

Your employer’s lawyer may ask you to sit for a deposition to ask you how you remember your accident, where you were hurt and how your medical treatment is progressing.  Your employer’s lawyer may also use a deposition to ask you about your medical history, prior injuries, and your daily activities after your accident.

Depositions take place in your lawyer’s office, so they are less formal than a court hearing. However, your deposition testimony is taken under oath and anything you say can be used later for cross examination purposes.  This is why you should always prepare for your deposition by meeting with your lawyer ahead of time so you will know what to expect.

In this short video, I explain more about how workers’ comp. depositions work and what you can expect.  Of course, if you would like advice about your case, I would be happy to help – please call me at  770-351-0801 or email me using the form on this page.

 

Seriously Injured Workers Likely to be Fired

Construction Worker Suffering Injury After Fall From Ladder

Many of the folks I speak with about work injury claims are, quite reasonably, concerned about their jobs.  Steady, well-paying jobs are hard to find and reporting an on-the-job injury could have negative consequences for your employment.

If you experience a relatively minor injury, you should not have much of a problem – minor muscle strains or bruises usually respond to ice and a day or two of rest, and then you can return to work without any issues.  In most of these cases, the posted panel doc’s treatment will be sufficient.  Our experience has been that employers recognize that bumps and bruises are part of almost any job and your employment will not be at risk if you access the posted panel doctor and the workers’ compensation system.

Problems often occur when your injury is more than a minor strain. Or perhaps you have had a series of minor and not so minor bumps and bruises that have resulted in several visits to the workers’ compensation clinic and more than a few days of missed work.  In cases where your employer decides that you are injury prone or that your minor injury really isn’t so minor, your job may be in jeopardy. [Read more…]

Delay in Treatment of Your Back Pain May be Hazardous to Your Health

low back painIn my Georgia workers’ compensation law practice I interact with dozens of insurance companies each week and I frequently find that claims adjusters take a very short sighted approach towards medical treatment for back injuries.

At least half of the clients I represent are suffering from some form of back injury. Low back pain (often disc herniations at L5/S1) is the most common problem I see but I also represent clients with damage to the spine at all regions: cervical, lumbar, sacral and thoracic.

Regardless of where the injury is localized, a common argument I have with insurance adjusters has to do with the need for fast treatment.

Despite dozens of research studies which show that fast diagnosis and treatment of any type of back injury results in faster and more complete recovery, I almost always find that insurance companies work to limit access to care and slow down the course of treatment.

Even in cases where an MRI shows a herniated disc that will require surgery, I inevitably find myself fighting to get the insurance company to agree to a surgeon, authorize surgery, approve post-surgical physical therapy or agree to pay for even short term prescriptions for beds, home modifications or even medications. [Read more…]

Defense Lawyers Scour Social Media for Evidence to Challenge Your Claim

man on climbing wall

I have written before about the danger associated with keeping your social media profiles active while you are pursuing workers’ compensation benefits. Comments, posts, tweets and especially photos can and will be used against you.

Perhaps you decided to change your Facebook profile picture and you chose a photo taken the year before your work injury. What if an old friend makes reference to a “camping trip” but does not provide any context as to the date or duration. [Read more…]