My workers compensation claim was made in the State of: California
I started a sustainability farm in 2017. I needed some money coming in to launch some farm projects (my wife makes the majority of our living income) so I got a part time job delivering golf carts 20 hours per week. On the second day of work, I injured my back lifting a trailer that can hold two golf carts onto a hitch of a truck. I've seen a few different doctors over the past year and a half since the injury, but mainly the same Orthopedic Surgeon in the same city I was injured, Temecula, CA. They sent me to physical therapy for my inured back and I've been going to periodic appointments with the doctor.
I told them in the beginning about my shoulder injury that had partially heeled from a injury 3 years ago had gotten worse from the trailer lifting incident. I also informed them I had to sell all my farm animals for a loss and end my farm project, which was terribly discouraging, especially for someone with Bipolar-1 disorder like myself. I went into a deep depression and could barely get around and function in life for months. They had me on temp-disability, which was $700 per month until I got a desk job with a Communications firm 3 month after the accident (once I could get around again...drive myself, sit for prolonged periods of time without too much discomfort). This was a part time job, but I made more than my disability, so they cut me off. Once I was laid off from this part time job 9 months later and wasn't eligible for unemployment, the insurance company put me back on temp disability, but that wasn't right away and not without a fight. They claimed I quit the golf cart job, when in reality, I was fired when my then boss found out I couldn't work for her anymore. (three weeks after injury).
Fast forward around 1 1/2 years after the injury, I have a QME appointment scheduled in 3 weeks of a doctor of their choosing. They are challenging the 54% disability my PT/Doctor suggested based on the severity of the injury and apparently a whole bunch of other weird calculations I tried, but failed to fully understand. I'm 35 years old and my farm days are likely done, which is a bummer being I've dedicated the last two years of my life to sustainable farming education and focused major in college. I've got two permanently bulging disks in my lower back that cause a lot of pain doing simply functions...like taking out the trash. The pain is better than right after the injury, but not as much as I'd hoped.
My doctor subscribed flexirol and Chiropractor visits. They approved the flexirol and I was on it for around a year before they stopped giving it to me because the insurance co. wouldn't approve. They didn't, however, ever get me my recommended Chiropractor visit.
I had to abandon my farm and opted to go back to school to finish a Bachelor's in Digital Audience (low stress on the back). I have 6 months of Gi-Bill left (I'm a former Marine) but I'll need around 10 months to finish. I'm posting this message to ask for advice. What recourses are available for me to finish school? What should I expect in terms of settlement and what should the time frame be if my QME is in two weeks? What should I do to prepare for the QME and am I stupid for not going into it with a lawyer? I didn't want to forfeit the 15% they were going to cost me, when from what I've read, the outcome is going to be the same and determined by a judge and a doctor recommendation along with a complicated formula. Appreciate the advice and comments in advance.