California Worker's Compensation - Help For Injured California Workers

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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    Posts
    5

    Default I Have Been Screwed By My Attorney And The Workers Comp System. I Need Help.

    I got injured on July 2006. I suffered a back injury (have two bulging discs) I used to work for a foodservice warehouse for over 5 years. I never complained to my company until the day, I got seriously injured. I was treated by my employer until December 2006. I have been with 3 doctors hired by my job. They were no help. Because of the dismal results that my job did in treating me, I decided to sue my employer in December 2006.

    The surgeon told me that my lower back was damaged but not as much that I should receive surgery. So, in the end. He ruled out surgery in my case. Eventually, the doctor that I was seeing and who was hired by the attorney in my case closed my file.

    I was attended by medical staff hired by my attorney to treat my back problem. I still have the pain in my lower back, I have difficulty standing for longer periods of time or walking long distances. I cannot pick anything heavy and according to the doctor, I am disable permanently. Well, today, I went to Workers comp trial in Anaheim. The result for the "trial" , the attorney working my case advised me to settle the case for $25,000. He told me that I could go to trial, but advised me against it because according to him, I could risk getting a smaller settlement down to $8,000 because it will be difficult to prove a higher settlement. According to him the doctor who attended me had a rating of my movement to 21% while the doctor from the state indicated that my rating was 13%. So, the attorney informed me that both sides came to an agreement. In the settlement they agreed that I receive $25,000, minus the attorney's fees and the EDD lien because. The total I have is less than $18,000.

    Yet, the attorney also told me that I could continue receive disability payments as long the doctor continues put me in disability. Now, he mentioned also that the agreement covered my medical attention, vocational and that I "may NOT" go back to work to my old job.

    End result is that I have a settlement worth for the next year. I still have pain in my lower back and I am fearful that my back gets worse as time progresses. I am not receiving worker comp and I do not know where to turn. I cannot work, I still have back pain because of the injury. I had to call my union at my former job to see if I am able to return to work. Although, I see it doubtful. I have no vocational or re-training nor can I return to work. I have $18000 and still with bulging discs. What ca I do? Is there any way I could get my job back or at least fight that lousy settlement that the attorney screwed me off? Even though I am hurting and I wish I die rather than live with the back pain. I need to continue working. The bills are not going to stop. What can I do? If you have suggestions, please let me know.

    Thank you.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Location
    Calif
    Posts
    18,045

    Default Re: I Have Been Screwed By My Attorney And The Workers Comp System. I Need Help.

    I decided to sue my employer in December 2006.


    WCAB is the sole recourse in adjudicating a claim for WC benefits...so you mean you retained an attorney to handle your claim?


    Well, today, I went to Workers comp trial in Anaheim. The result for the "trial" , the attorney working my case advised me to settle the case for $25,000. He told me that I could go to trial, but advised me against it because according to him, I could risk getting a smaller settlement down to $8,000 because it will be difficult to prove a higher settlement. According to him the doctor who attended me had a rating of my movement to 21% while the doctor from the state indicated that my rating was 13%. So, the attorney informed me that both sides came to an agreement. In the settlement they agreed that I receive $25,000, minus the attorney's fees and the EDD lien because. The total I have is less than $18,000.


    So you went to an MSC, ''Mandatory Settlement Conference'', which is a hearing and not an actual 'trial'...the IC offered $25K to C&R your case, which includes the amount for your PD/WPI rating, and the value of your estimated future medical...your case is CLOSED...over, you cannot re-open your case...the ER/IC has been released of all liability to this injury.
    A C&R is a negotiated agreement between the parties to settle the claim and release the ER/IC from ALL future liability for this injury. You cannot be forced to accept the C&R, but it appears you did and signed the paper.

    According to him the doctor who attended me had a rating of my movement to 21% while the doctor from the state indicated that my rating was 13%.

    A 21% 'to movement' is not the same as a state/DEU rating/WPI of 13%.
    The 13% rating is worth 42.25 weeks at $230/wk or $9717.50, but depending on the circumstances the value is between $8259.88 and $10,897.41, so no one 'screwed' you there...

    Yet, the attorney also told me that I could continue receive disability payments as long the doctor continues put me in disability. Now, he mentioned also that the agreement covered my medical attention, vocational and that I "may NOT" go back to work to my old job.

    If you signed a C&R there will be NO more disability payments...what is the attorney basing this one on?
    It is not unusual for the ER to require that you resign from your job when there is a settlement like this.

    End result is that I have a settlement worth for the next year. I still have pain in my lower back and I am fearful that my back gets worse as time progresses. I am not receiving worker comp and I do not know where to turn. I cannot work, I still have back pain because of the injury. I had to call my union at my former job to see if I am able to return to work. Although, I see it doubtful. I have no vocational or re-training nor can I return to work. I have $18000 and still with bulging discs. What ca I do? Is there any way I could get my job back or at least fight that lousy settlement that the attorney screwed me off?

    Workers Compensation is to 'cure and/or relieve' from the affects of your work related injury...not to return you to your previous injury condition, but rather to 'restor function' to the point that you can perform 'some kind' of gainful employment. Not necessarily the job you had before your injury.
    WC is now based on the ACOEM guidelines (or other EBM) which are set up to ''treat the injury'', RTW as soon as possible, and not necessarily "treat the pain'' associated with the injury.

    Sadly, you have fallen with the ranks of IW who are subject to the new rating schedules and they provide for some shitty indemnity where there is permenant disability due to your injury.
    Unfortunately you attorney is probably not aware, of didn't want to go to the effort, to rebut the PD/WPI rating through expet witness at a trail and attempt to get that award increased.

    It is not unusual for probably about 30/40% of working Americans to have/suffer from 'back pain' due to 'bulging disks', or soft tissue injuries, which it appears you have as a result of your injury.

    fight that lousy settlement that the attorney screwed me off? Even though I am hurting and I wish I die rather than live with the back pain. I need to continue working. The bills are not going to stop. What can I do?

    Your attorney didn't "screw you out" of anything...you got advise based on your medical evidence, as provided by your doctors. The amount of your PD indemnity is set by law, that was probably the $8K you could have been left with if your future medical was left open and the money paid out bi-weekly.
    Your recourse now, as you accepted the agreement/C&R, is to return to work of some kind that fits your restrictions. You can contact EDD for job placement assistance. There may also be vocational re-hab assistance available through the state.

    The information here is based on a presumption of your acceptance of a Compromise and Release settlement...if you did something different..(?) you'll probably get a different response.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    Posts
    5

    Default Re: I Have Been Screwed By My Attorney And The Workers Comp System. I Need Help.

    It was the actual trial. He advised me against going to trial because he said there was a great possibility that I might a lower my settlement to $8000 instead of $25,000 based on the doctor's notes. I didnt know what to do. I wanted to walk away because both options were lousy. If I was able to walk away and without signing anything or face the fact that the judge would indeed lower my settlement. I am now unemployed. If I am unemployed, then I need re-training. How could I walk away without at least getting some re-training for a job. It is like basically giving me just the money and no retraining and no medical care and on top of that this stupid settlement money that will not serve me for anything.

    The only thing that he told me is that despite the lien that I have to pay to the EDD on the settlement. The attorney told me that I could continue collecting disability until it runs out. That makes no sense. I am paying back the EDD over $3000, yet I could collect EDD and part of it is the money that they are taking away. This sounds ridiculus. How can I get re-training at least?

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Posts
    2,169

    Default Re: I Have Been Screwed By My Attorney And The Workers Comp System. I Need Help.

    IF you indeed went to trial, and do NOT settle your case with a Compromise and Release (C&R) BEFORE the Trial Judge issues his Finding & Award, then you will be allowed to re-open your case within FIVE YEARS of the date of your oringinal injury for "new and further" disability and/or compensable consequences. Witht a Findings and Award, you will also be entitled to life-time Future Medical care that is reasonablly necessary to cure and relieve the effects of your industrial injury. You will recieve whatever PD the Judge has determined every two weeks until it has been exhausted. You normally would NOT receive a "lump sum" UNLESS you requested that your PD award be "commuted"...

    I am confused: you stated that after the Trial you were able to "walk away wihout signing anything".... and that you had to pay the EDD lien "from the settlement"..

    DID YOU SIGN ANYTHING AT ALL?????
    Last edited by Charles Stevens; 12-21-2007 at 11:08 AM.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Location
    Calif
    Posts
    18,045

    Default Re: I Have Been Screwed By My Attorney And The Workers Comp System. I Need Help.

    He advised me against going to trial because he said there was a great possibility that I might a lower my settlement to $8000 instead of $25,000 based on the doctor's notes. I didnt know what to do.

    OK< so WHAT DID you do?


    I wanted to walk away because both options were lousy. If I was able to walk away and without signing anything or face the fact that the judge would indeed lower my settlement.

    Sorry, that is very confusing...

    The attorney told me that I could continue collecting disability until it runs out. That makes no sense. I am paying back the EDD over $3000, yet I could collect EDD and part of it is the money that they are taking away.

    This looks like where YOU are confused...IF you continue to collect disability benefits, they DO NOT come from EDD...they come from the IC until they run out, that means until your 'award' is paid. The future medical remains open.

    Have you received a decision from the judge...in writing...?


    ''How can I get re-training at least? ''

    If you get a Finding and Award/Order, you will get a Supplemental Job Displacement Voucher...not cash lump sum for the re-training.

    We still need to have your information cleared up... looks like you do not understand what has transpired in your case...

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Posts
    551

    Default Re: I Have Been Screwed By My Attorney And The Workers Comp System. I Need Help.

    1) He must have been at a MSC

    "He advised me against going to trial"


    2) Sounds like he was offered a C&R for $18,000 or a STIP Also sound s like he had to RESIGN from his job in the C&R.

    "Yet, the attorney also told me that I could continue receive disability payments as long the doctor continues put me in disability. Now, he mentioned also that the agreement covered my medical attention, vocational and that I "may NOT" go back to work to my old job." STIP

    3) Also sounds like the atty told him he could get SDI, after EDD IS PAID BACK THE 3K. (Who knows if tis is correct?)

    "I am paying back the EDD over $3000, yet I could collect EDD and part of it is the money that they are taking away. "

    4) I think he signed it, and now has buyer's remorse.

    "I wanted to walk away because both options were lousy"

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    Posts
    5

    Default Re: I Have Been Screwed By My Attorney And The Workers Comp System. I Need Help.

    Most of the part is correct. I just want to know if I am able to go back to my old job. If not, I would like to know if I am able to get some re-training in a vocational job?

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Location
    Calif
    Posts
    18,045

    Default Re: I Have Been Screwed By My Attorney And The Workers Comp System. I Need Help.

    Which part of "most of that is right"...???

    DID you sign off on a C&R...?

    pLA offers a lot of "sounds like" and you offer "most of that is correct"...how do you expect to get an answer to your question...of I just want to know if I am able to go back to my old job. If not, I would like to know if I am able to get some re-training in a vocational job?
    The answer is going to be based on your specific answers....
    HOW DID YOU SETTLE THIS CASE ?
    Which parts are correct in the assumptions...?

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    Posts
    5

    Default Re: I Have Been Screwed By My Attorney And The Workers Comp System. I Need Help.

    I had to settle my case because my attorney advised me to do a C&R. I want to know if there is a chance I could go back to work for the same company, if not then will I be able to get "vocational vouchers"? I have to pay more than $3000 for a lien by the EDD. Yet, he told me that I should still receive SDI. I was on SDI in September when I went into disability while the insurer refused to pay workers comp.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jun 2007
    Posts
    339

    Default Re: I Have Been Screwed By My Attorney And The Workers Comp System. I Need Help.

    First of all you did not have to settle your case. You had the choice of ignoring your attorneys advice. I know these things are very confusing and having your attorney throw this at you, probably in the hallway or someplace similar, is pretty stressful. I am thinking what you were faced with was a decision between a C&R for the $25,000.00 and giving up medical or a stip worth about $8,000.00 and you retain future medical treatment. Attorney may very well of explained it such a way the he sold you on the C&R.

    Your original post said that you went to your "workmans comp trial" on 12/20/07. Actually it sounds like this was an MSC not a trial. Either way the next question is did all parties including the judge sign off on the settlement? Until that happens it is not final. If you wish to not go ahead with it you may possibly be able to stop it. PLA or someone else may know more about that.

    If the settlement has been signed and agreed to by all parties including the judge then it is more than likely a done deal. Chances of having it set aside would be pretty slim. This being the case if the settlement had lanquage as you said that states that you give up working for that employer then no you can not go back to work for them. They put that language in specifically to bar you from this. As to any vocational benefits. Again it depends on exactly what language was put into the C&R. If it does not specifically deny them then you would qualify for the Supplemental Job Displacement Voucher. With a 13%rating it would be worth $4,000.00. Not a great deal of money but it is something.

    If all parties signed off you should have been given a copy of the settlement. Read through it and that is what you have agreed to. Consider it a binding contract for both sides. They pay you money you go away. I know this really sucks but that is the way it is.

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