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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jun 2007
    Posts
    22

    Default Do We Need An Attorney

    My husband ruptured the disk between L5-S1 at work. He recently had surgery and has more pain in his leg now then he had before the surgery. The doc says that it's probably just from moving everything around and told him to take a Medrol dose pak (hopefully it will work). His workers comp insurance has been wonderful. They promptly return our calls, answer any questions, pay for all medical expenses including his meds, etc.
    The more horror stories I read the more afraid I get. I don't want to wait until it's too late to get an attorney, but I also don't want the insurance company to stop being cooperative. What are the odds of w/c insurance actually treating someone fairly?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Georgia
    Posts
    1,923

    Default Re: Do we need an attorney?

    At this point EPW I would not hire an attorney if it were me. I have been out under WC since March and have had no problems getting taken care of. I have a small discrepency with my rate of wage replacement but I am taking care of that directly with the WC board.

    Now at the first sign of trouble, medical care denied, wage replacement cut, reimbursements not made in a timely manner I would strongly advise you to seek council immediately.

    I have talked to a few WC attorneys about my own claim and have been told that unless the IC does not pay for what they are supposed to then there is really nothing they can offer except to collect 25% of my income, well at least 25% of anything they secure for me.
    "He who is his own lawyer has a fool for a client"
    Abraham Lincoln


    Take Care and Be Well.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jun 2007
    Posts
    22

    Default Re: Do we need an attorney?

    Thanks for your response. I feel much better. We are not looking to benifit from his injury, however I also don't want to be left flat broke either. Hopefully we will be one of the lucky few that get treated fairly.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jun 2007
    Location
    Tennessee
    Posts
    200

    Default Re: Do we need an attorney?

    I'm glad to hear you're getting along so far with the WC IC. As you've obviously been able to tell, not everyone has.

    In some cases, I'll recommend that you can handle these cases yourself, without an attorney. However, one thing to keep in mind is the old "Catch more flies with honey than vinegar" line. The IC may be good, and you may be lucky to have a good adjuster and case nurse on your claim. Keep in mind that they may be nice to you now, in order to get you to take a less-than-desireable settlement. I know. I used to work for them, and got settlements like that approved tons of times. Then, I realized that it was just wrong and switched sides.

    Adjusters change frequently in this business. When I was a defense lawyer, I sometimes couldn't keep up month-to-month which adjuster I was dealing with on a file.

    If you're receiving your husband's TTD checks on time, not getting duns from medical providers for bills, you're doing ok so far. If your husband is able to return to work, any benefits for permanent disability are limited to 1 1/2 times his medical impairment rating.

    One other thing from SteelMagnolia's post. In Tennessee, the maximum attorney's fee for a workers' compensation employee's attorney is 20% of the award, not 25%.

    Things to keep in mind that an attorney can do for you in this process is help you with obtaining a higher medical impairment rating to allow you to secure a greater award. If your husband had low back surgery, then he'll definitely be entitled to a rating.

    Think of it this way, all your attorney has to do is get you 20% more than you would have otherwise gotten to pay for himself. You get the same money, plus you put the headache of dealing with the case on someone else.

    Granted, I'm a lawyer, and I make my living by representing workers injured on the job, so I guess I'm biased. But, I think, when it gets down to it, you'll generally get a far better result with a lawyer than without one. We're getting paid because we know the system, know how to handle these cases, and doing the best job possible for our clients in this system.

    Knowing what a Benefit Review Conference is, how to request one, and how to negotiate a settlement is something that most people, by applying some time to research can probably figure out. Having someone there who knows how all the parts fit together, and how to use the system to your benefit is something far different.

    Again, best wishes for a speedy recovery to your husband. If you have any more questions, you can post them or send me a private message, and I'll be happy to help.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jun 2007
    Posts
    22

    Default Re: Do we need an attorney?

    If anyone knows of a good w/c attorney in the Memphis area please let me know.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jun 2007
    Posts
    22

    Unhappy Re: Do We Need An Attorney

    OK, my husband has not felt any better since the surgery. He still has a lot of pain in the top of his leg and hip area, numb on one side of his leg and foot. He can't even staighten his leg all the way out. He feels worse now then he did before surgery. He can't stand, sit, lay down or walk for very long at all. I am getting very concerned. The doctor has ordered another MRI, but we have to wait on worker's comp to approve it. Then he will also have to do PT twice a week for 3 weeks. If this ends up being a permanent complication from surgery, who do we go to then? His doctor told us that there were risks involved in back surgery, but he made it out like it never happens. My husband does not remember what all he signed before he went into surgery, but I was told by a nurse that you always have to sign some sort of liability waiver before surgery. Is that true? I am getting very scared.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    Posts
    294

    Default Re: Do we need an attorney?

    Quote Quoting EPW View Post
    If anyone knows of a good w/c attorney in the Memphis area please let me know.
    Bill Cohn & Jerry R. Givens are worth their weight in Gold on Worker's Comp.

    http://www.cohnlawfirm.com/workers.htm

    901-757-5557

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jun 2007
    Location
    Tennessee
    Posts
    200

    Default Re: Do We Need An Attorney

    Quote Quoting EPW View Post
    He still has His doctor told us that there were risks involved in back surgery, but he made it out like it never happens. My husband does not remember what all he signed before he went into surgery, but I was told by a nurse that you always have to sign some sort of liability waiver before surgery. Is that true? I am getting very scared.
    You have to be patient with lumbar spine surgery. It's a very long recovery process, and he probably won't be back to any meaningful level of function for at least 6 months. To get to pretty good again will probably be 12-18 months.

    It's concerning that he would still have numbness/tingling after a surgery to remove a disc. It could just be post-surgical swelling/inflammation of the muscle tissue that is irritating the nerves. Or, after surgery, the remainder of the disc material that wasn't cut out could have ruptured again. Those are all probable post-surgery outcomes.

    As far as needing a lawyer, I'd definitely recomend that you retain someone to help you. While WC is currently being helpful, you could still use a well trained advocate on your side. The IC has plenty of folks on theirs.

    As far as what your husband signed, it's typically called an "Informed Consent" meaning that the risks/benefits of the surgery were explained to your husband and that he understood and accepted that. I don't think that it's going to be a liability waiver if the doctor botched the surgery. For the reasons stated above, I wouldn't be quick to assume the doc did mess up, but it's possible. You should be able to obtain a copy of any documents in your husband's file, including the informed consent to surgery. If you are concerned, and want to talk to a lawyer, you could probably speed up his/her evaluation of the situation by going to medical records to get copies (which you may have to pay for).

    Good luck.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jun 2007
    Posts
    22

    Default Re: Do We Need An Attorney

    How long would it take for the swelling to go down? He had surgery on June 5, 2007 and he has already taken a full round of Medrol. He didn't have any numbness before the surgery. His doctor did mention that the other side may have collapsed when he was repairing it. Hopefully the MRI will give us some answers. I just hope they do the MRI before they start PT and possibly make it worse.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Georgia
    Posts
    1,923

    Default Re: Do We Need An Attorney

    EPW, while I normally Do Not disagree with what an attorney advises in this case I will make an exception. I mean no disrespect JLJ but please explain how an attorney could help this case at this time. (BTW as far as the percentage that an attorney is entitled to the max. in GA is indeed 25% and in my earlier post that is what I was refering to. Almost makes me wish I lived in TN again and could save that 5% when an attorney is envolved. )

    If your husband is still getting all of the benefits of WC taken care of without a hassel from the IC I do not see the necessity of hiring an attorney at this point. Certainly is something you want to weigh very carefully. And definately something you would want to pursue if the IC is not providing all medical care ordered by his docs or intentionally delaying care.

    Once you sign an agreement you can automatically take 20% off of any award that the attorney is entitled to share in. Again JLJ I mean no offense to you or any other attorney when I say this. I just does not make economic sense to me to perclude the attorney's fees from what would otherwise be awarded to the IW. Some IC's that are doing things the way they should take serious offense to IW's bringing an attorney into the equation and suddenly become less helpful. You might then expect to fight tooth and nail for approval for your benefits at all levels.

    Given that your husband is only 15 days post op it is likely that he will soon begin to show signs of improvement. I am not a doctor but I can tell you the rule of thumb most use under post operative circumstances. If the pain and loss of ROM and or numbness is not worsening from what it was shortly after the surgery it most likely is pain to be expected post operatively. However, if the pain or numbness is increasing then he most likely has a situation that needs further investigation.

    The papers he signed, just at JLJ suggested, are most likely standard informed consent releases used for all procedures/surgeries. For future reference if he ends up with additional procedures/surgeries make sure you are with him when he signs any paperwork and read it before it is signed. You are entitled to copies of all medical records and should ask for them ASAP. Never give these copies to anyone make additional copies if they are needed but always retain a copy for your records.

    Also I would strongly recommend that he not start any PT until that MRI has been done and the report is back. Obviously he dosen't want to cause further damage. How long has it been since the MRI was ordered? Being patient as JLJ recommended is likely easier said than done but very necessary with many surgical procedures and especially spinal surgery.

    Keep us up to date as to ya'll progress and Take Care,

    Steel
    "He who is his own lawyer has a fool for a client"
    Abraham Lincoln


    Take Care and Be Well.

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