Posted on Wednesday, June 20th, 2018 at 8:46 am
What happens when a doctor releases you on “light duty.”
Posted on Wednesday, January 10th, 2018 at 11:41 am
In North Carolina and Virginia, may times the insurance company for the employer will want to take your deposition. A deposition is on oral question and answer session which is recorded so that it can be transcribed and the discussion can be preserved. It is done under oath, just like you were in the courtroom. In most work injury depositions, the insurance company attorney will question the worker and your worker’s compensation attorney will prepare you for the deposition. Preparation means explaining what questions the employer’s lawyer will likely ask so that you aren’t surprised when the real deposition takes place and also going over some general tips to help the deposition go smoother. By reviewing the deposition with you in advance, and using the attorney’s experience to prepare you for the deposition, the lawyer will also explain many practical suggestions so you can express your answers in a way that can best help your cause.
In most depositions, that lawyer for the insurance company is polite and the questions are fairly straightforward. Occasionally, that is not the case. Either way, you should treat the deposition as a business meeting. No matter how nice the defense lawyer is, he or she is not your friend. Defense lawyers will try and derail your case, if given the opportunity to do so.
The deposition normally takes place either at your lawyer’s office or the law office for the attorney for the insurance company/employer. The questions and answers are usually in a lawyer’s conference room and just you, your lawyer, the insurance company lawyer, and the stenographer or court reporter are present. Occasionally, particularly if your lawyer will also be deposing your supervisory personnel, a company representative may be present. Sometimes, albeit rarely, the insurance adjuster is present, but they will not be able to ask you any questions under oath. Only the defense lawyer and your own attorney can do that.
If you don’t currently have a lawyer, we strongly suggest retaining an experienced worker’s compensation lawyer before heading into a deposition. Please do not do that on your own. You may very well risk causing tremendous damage to your case.
Remember, it does not cost you any money up front to hire a workers compensation lawyer. You will not have to stroke a check. Attorney’s fees in workers comp cases are controlled by the Industrial Commission in North Carolina or the Virginia Workers Compensation Commission.
In addition to thorough preparation of you prior to the depo, your lawyer may object to some of the questions that are being asked. You lawyer can also ask you questions that can help clarify your answers once defense counsel has finished his or her line of questioning.
When you answer the questions, you will be under oath. Testifying under oath means that you swear to tell the truth and to answer the questions to the best of your ability. The court stenographer is the person who will swear you in.
What is the purpose of the Deposition?
The deposition of a Claimant or Plaintiff in a Workers Compensation Case Generally has Four Purposes:
The insurance company lawyer will generally ask you the following:
And even though the employer does not have to be at fault, sometimes there needs to be a defect if you were injured in a way that is a common way to get hurt. For instance, in Virginia, if you simply missed a step while walking down a set of stairs, that is not a risk of employment and you have no case, unless your shoes were slippery from work materials, you were rushed with work items in your hands, or the step on which you slipped was somehow defective. The bottom line is that in a contested case, it is very important to go over these facts with your attorney so that you do not inadvertently say something that could ruin your claim.
In North Carolina, there are somewhat stricter provisions that generally require some type of slip, trip or fall—something unusual, that must occur in order for you to have suffered an “accident.” This will be explored by defense counsel, particularly if you have a contested claim.
What is often most important here is what you told your doctors or other health care providers about your injuries. If there are inconsistencies in the statements you made to doctors and hospitals about how you were injured, or which body parts you injured, then these inconsistencies, if not properly explained, can ruin your case. A good workers comp attorney will point out any of these inconsistencies and go over them with you in preparation for the deposition so that they do not derail your claim.
The defense lawyer will begin questioning with the first treatment and then go through your treatment, usually in chronological order or by physician, until the current time. He/she will also go over your long-term prognosis and how you are feeling now, as well as your plans going forward.
Some of the guidelines your worker’s compensation lawyer will go over with you before the deposition are:
Preparation is the key to most work injury cases. The more you and prepared and the more your lawyer has all the necessary information, the better chance you have of winning your claim. A skilled worker’s compensation lawyer like Joe Miller has handled many depositions. He can firmly guide you through the deposition process. He’s helped thousands of injured workers. For help now, please phone lawyer Joe Miller at (888) 694-1671 or use his contact form to schedule an appointment.
Posted on Wednesday, January 10th, 2018 at 11:37 am
Post-traumatic stress disorder is a long-term mental health reaction to witnessing or experiencing one or more traumatic events. While many people recover from accidents or other forms of trauma as their injuries heal or with time – for some people the trauma can prevent them from working, from functioning and from enjoying life. For example, some people who have an extremely violent car accident may be fearful of ever driving or even being a passenger in a car again.
Workers’ compensation doesn’t just apply to physical injuries. Workers who can’t emotionally do their job are also entitled to North Carolina and Virginia workers’ compensation benefits. This includes PTSD cases.
Types of jobs where PTSD claims are likely
Any accident can cause someone to develop post-traumatic stress disorder. Still, PTSD is most common in work environments where there is a great amount of stress, physical contact, and violence. Some of the jobs where PTSD is common are firefighting, police work, and emergency medical care. Workers who see other persons die or deal with physical difficulties, such as nurses and medical care providers, also are prone to suffering PTSD. In many cases, a specific incident is what pushes the employee over the edge to the point he/she can’t work and can’t function.
People in the military often suffer PTSD. Your North Carolina and Virginia workers’ compensation lawyer can explain if you have a state or federal workers’ compensation claim if military combat causes PTSD.
Post-traumatic stress disorder systems
The psychological and emotional difficulties of PTSD vary from person to person. Some patients may recover in weeks or months. Others may need years to recover and some may never recover. In the worst cases, someone with post-traumatic stress disorder may tragically take their own life. Patients need to work with psychiatrists, psychologists, and other mental health professionals in or order to address their problems and to learn how to cope and manage them.
Typical PTSD symptoms include:
Some people outwardly show their PTSD symptoms by being aggressive. Some may even engage in self-destructive behavior such as abusing alcohol or drugs or driving recklessly. Eating disorders are also common.
The consequences of post-traumatic stress disorder are not just limited to emotional effects. Many people with PTSD are at risk for some or all of the following physical detrimental effects:
Workers’ compensation benefits for people with PTSD
Workers who can verify through medical evidence that a specific workplace accident triggered their PTST can demand their work injury benefits in North Carolina and in Virginia. The allowable benefits include:
Employees may also be entitled to vocational rehabilitation expenses for the costs to learn new work skills so the worker can accept a less stressful job.
Some of the challenges of PTSD work injury cases
There are several difficulties in North Carolina and Virginia PTSD cases. Workers often aren’t aware of their problems immediately. It can take a long time before the employee becomes aware that PTSD is the cause of his/her inability to work. Early intervention helps many patients which is why it is important to file your workers’ compensation as soon as possible.
Insurance companies will try to blame factors not related to work for the employee’s post-traumatic stress disorder such as family stresses, money problems, and abuse by others.
Mental health issues are harder to document than physical injuries where X-Rays, CT scans, MRIs, and other more objective tests are used to show that the employee does have significant work-related injuries.
Employers may try to argue that the worker only qualifies for PTSD if he/she suffered the trauma instead of just witnessing the trauma. We have had PTSD cases where we have overcome such defense arguments.
Our North Carolina and Virginia workers’ compensation lawyers explain that witnessing a violent act at work should qualify for work injury benefits, depending on the occupation of the worker. For example, if a police officer witnesses another police officer being shot, the first police officer often will undergo PTSD because of concern for the fellow police officer and for his/her own safety. The right to claim workers’ compensation benefits varies from state to state. Some states require an unusual stimulus, some require a sudden stimulus, and some don’t allow for PTSD claims. North Carolina and Virginia currently do allow for PTSD claims if certain conditions are met.
The High Importance of Recognizing PTSD in a Workers Compensation Claim
It is extremely important for injured workers that are suffering from PTSD to come forward and advise their doctors and their attorney about any symptoms listed in this article because it is so important on many levels. First, it is important to get the psychiatric help you need, but properly identifying PTSD as soon as possible can also mean the difference between a successful, ongoing case that leads to settlement, or a case that simply evaporates and leaves the injured worker with little in the way of settlement.
Oftentimes, we know that despite everything we may try, workers compensation doctors can be very conservative and release injured workers to full duty well before they are ready to return to work, either physically or emotionally.
For a worker suffering from PTSD, even light duty at the same workplace is simply impossible. Just the thought of re-entering the place that has brought the injured worker so much suffered is enough to send someone with PTSD into a full-fledged panic attack, severe depression, or even thoughts of suicide.
Therefore, it is critical to get a referral for PTSD as soon as possible, long before the release by the doctors who are treating you for your physical injuries, so when that day comes, you are protected by your psychiatric doctors who can issue a work note to prevent you from having to return to the workplace.
A good psychiatrist will work with you not only to help you resolve your symptoms but he or she also knows that if you are released to work too early, you will be re-triggered and you might never recover from the PTSD brought on by the accident. He or she will therefore “protect” you from being harmed by an early release by issuing a work note holding you out of work until such time as it is determined that you can safely do so from a psychiatric perspective.
Many times, our PTSD clients have been “saved” by their psychiatrists, because the physical doctors have released the client to light duty when it is very clear that from a psychiatric and emotional standpoint that returning to work would utterly destroy our client. In these circumstances, had our client not had a psychiatrist who had already diagnosed him with PTSD from the accident holding him out of work for their PTSD, the client would have been forced to make a choice between returning to work, which means certain suicide or committal to a mental hospital, or giving up on their workers compensation case by refusing to return to work.
With proper PTSD treatment in place as a result of early identification of PTSD symptoms and a proper diagnosis, not to mention proper documentation and authorization and a lifetime medical award for PTSD, this is not a concern.
Talk with a caring Virginia and North Carolina workers’ compensation law now
Attorney Joe Miller works with psychologists, psychiatrists, physicians, and counselors who can properly evaluate your PTSD condition. He has the experience to fight to show that you meet the Virginia and North Carolina workers’ compensation requirements. For over 27 years, he has obtained numerous awards and settlements that fully compensate work injury victims. To discuss your case or that of a loved one who is suffering, please call attorney Joe Miller Esq. at (888) 694-1671 or by filling out his contact form.
Posted on Wednesday, January 10th, 2018 at 10:32 am
Work Injury Center Attorney Joe Miller, Esq. warns injured workers in Virginia and North Carolina to never sign any document without first consulting with an experienced workers compensation lawyer. Failing to do so can have horrific consequences. Here, Joe gives a very good example of how an injured workers’ careless signing of a simple award agreement could destroy a large portion of his or her claim.
Posted on Monday, September 11th, 2017 at 3:41 pm
Attorney Joe Miller explains what happens if your employer denies your claim:
Posted on Monday, July 17th, 2017 at 4:51 pm
Learn more about your options when you have been injured at work from The Workplace Injury Center and attorney Joe Miller.
Posted on Wednesday, May 17th, 2017 at 9:28 am
This is a frequent question we get and our best piece of advice is to seek the advice of an attorney who specializes in Divorce Law in Virginia.
This is because the law in the area of domestic relations is one that is constantly changing and evolving and more likely than not, even the little bit of information we are providing here is likely to be outdated by the time you read this. (more…)
Posted on Friday, July 22nd, 2016 at 2:00 pm
The legal fees in North Carolina work injury cases are regulated by state law. All legal fees must be approved by the North Carolina Industrial Commission or Virginia Workers Compensation Commission. Most attorneys such as Joe Miller Esq. handle workers’ compensation cases on a contingency fee basis. This means that the injured client may only owe minimal fees in the earlier stages of the case, unless and until the case is settled. When cases settle and an Order is entered, the employer or the insurance company is ordered to pay the injured worker a specific lump sum to the attorney.
Insofar as the earlier fees, there are no ‘up front’ or retainer fees on workers comp cases.
After the attorney has performed some work on the case, or in Virginia, after obtaining an Award for the client, whether by agreement or otherwise, the Commission will typically Award a small fee such as $500.00 or $1000.00 to the attorney. The money is not taken out of the client’s money all at once, but the Comp Carrier will typically agree to pay the attorney between $25.00 and $100.00 per week out of the claimant’s comp check, taking into account the amount of each week’s check.
In North Carolina, if the attorney wins some kind of significant Motion on behalf of the client, the Industrial Commission will typically Award the attorney every 4th Comp Check (25%). Most of the time in North Carolina cases, this does not occur. The only fees ultimately paid relate to settlement.
The advantages of hiring an experienced North Carolina or Virginia work injury lawyer are many. Attorney Joe Miller has helped thousands of injured workers get strong recoveries. He has been fighting for injured workers for over 25 years. His experience and tough advocacy helps clients demand all the benefits the law allows.
The benefits include more than just obtaining your weekly compensation checks. They include payment for all types of medical bills such as hospital bills, doctor visits, medical devices and medications. Injured workers may also be entitled to vocational rehabilitation, travel expenses, and other benefits. Most importantly, a skilled lawyer fights to get the right classification of injuries for the workers. An experienced lawyer also works with your medical team when the employer tries to force the worker back to work too soon.
The main legal expense is the overall contingency fee. There are also some other expenses that the lawyer may be allowed. The common legal fees are:
The 25% or 20% fee applies to even the most experienced lawyers. So, there is no real advantage in hiring a new or less skilled lawyer to get lower fees. Because the fees are capped at these amounts, injured workers should look to hire the experienced and highly skilled lawyers for their case.
The percentage does not apply to payment for past expenses such as medical bills. These are usually not part of the contingency fee and doctors and hospitals are normally paid directly by the employer without the lawyer getting a percentage of the medical bill; however, in Virginia, (not North Carolina), in a denied claim, your attorney may enter into a separate fee agreement with your medical providers to obtain a contingency fee once the providers are paid by the workers comp insurance company. That fee will not affect your fee agreement between you and your attorney.
The Smaller Early Attorney fee Awards in Virginia. In Virginia, if the attorney is able to secure an Award for the client, either through a hearing or Agreement, the Commission will typically Award the attorney a small fee, usually between $500 and $1000.00 It will usually only be larger if the Award results in the worker receiving a large lump sum of back pay owed. In that case, the Award may equal up to 20% of the back pay Awarded. If there is no back pay Award to draw from, the fee is not taken all at once, but satisfied through weekly payments deducted from the worker’s ongoing workers comp checks. The amount paid each week to the lawyer is adjusted based on what the worker can best afford.
Medical records. While the workers’ compensation lawyer is generally not paid a percentage of the medical bill, the attorney is entitled to be reimbursed for the cost of obtaining medical records and reports. In most workers compensation cases, the workers’ compensation lawyer will advance the funds to get the medical records and reports from the doctors who are treating the injured worker. The records are basically the office notes and other doctor or facility records and the charges are usually fairly small.
The larger fees may come into play if the doctor is asked to answer important questions in writing that are critical to the worker’s claim. The report will usually say that in the doctor’s reasonable medical opinion, the worker’s diagnosis and prognosis is whatever matches the true facts of the case.
In Virginia, doctor’s depositions are usually not required, but if taken, need to occur before the hearing takes place. The same applies insofar as the attorney being reimbursed for advancing those costs.
In addition, oftentimes the defense lawyer may depose the Plaintiff in North Carolina (referred to as the Claimant in Virginia). If your attorney orders a copy of the transcript, there are costs associated with that as well.
Finally, depending on the facts of your case, there may be eyewitnesses or other witnesses whose testimony is critical to pursue or defend your claim. There are obviously costs for such transcripts as well.
The intake specialist will typically ask you precise questions about your specific situation, which questions constitute our Seven-Step Evaluation Process. Based on such items as the facts of the accident, your injuries, and other factors – the lawyer will be presented with your responses to these questions then decide whether you have a chance of success or if it is a case our firm is best suited to handle.
The consultation is also a chance for the injured employee to have his or her case reviewed by an experienced profession and it is absolutely free.
If both sides agree to pursue the workers’ compensation claim, then the lawyer will prepare a fee agreement to be signed by the lawyer and the client.
The lawyer normally files the fee agreement with the Commission. It is the same in Virginia. If the fee is reasonable, the lawyer’s fees are approved. If the Commission finds that the fees are unreasonable, the reasons are given. The lawyer then can Appeal the decision to the Full Commission.
Some of the factors the Commission will review are the time spent on the case, the amount involved, the results achieved, whether the fee is contingent of fixes, what other lawyers normally charge, the experience level of the lawyer, and the overall nature of the lawyer’s services.
Experience matters. Because lawyers take work injury cases on a contingency fee basis and because legal fees are usually capped, it makes good sense to hire an attorney such as Joe Miller who has a strong track record. If you were injured on the job, contact attorney Joe Miller for help at 888-667-8295. You can also complete the online form to schedule an appointment.
Posted on Wednesday, June 29th, 2016 at 2:00 pm
This multiple period calculator is similar to the Basic Calculator, but it allows the addition of additional benefit periods. The Virginia Workers’ Compensation Commission has an online calculator. To play safe, injured workers should review their compensation loss with an experienced workers’ compensation lawyer. Multiple periods may apply, for example, if a worker tries to go back to work but discovers he/she still needs more time to recuperate or that the worker cannot do the job at all and will have to be retrained.
Attorney Joe Miller Esq. has helped thousands of clients get a strong recovery. He has been helping injured and ill workers in Virginia and North Carolina for over a quarter century. He works to properly categorize your injuries and to have you go back to work only when you are really ready. He fights for all the compensation you deserve. Please phone Joe Miller at the Work Injury Center for an appointment today at 888-694-1671 or fill out his contact form.
Posted on Friday, June 17th, 2016 at 2:00 pm
“The Commission will provide interpreters at its expense when requested for non-English speaking parties and witnesses in the evidentiary hearing setting. In lieu of a Commission-provided interpreter, parties independently may obtain and use the services of a qualified interpreter of their own choosing and at their own expense. Such interpreters need not be certified by the Supreme Court of Virginia, but must be competent to serve.
Parties and counsel who desire a Commission-appointed interpreter should notify the office of the Deputy Commissioner to whom the case is assigned of the need for same as soon as possible but in any case at least 30 days prior to the scheduled hearing date.”
Commission-provided interpreters are not witnesses – they just facilitate the process. If an interpreter is needed but wasn’t requested in time – a continuance to allow time to find an interpreter may be allowed.
Virginia workers’ compensation lawyer Joe Miller is an experienced lawyer. He works to make sure clients understand the issues. This includes working to bring in interpreters when needed. Joe Miller fights to get full compensation for wage loss, medical expenses, vocational rehabilitation, and other expenses. He fights to make sure workers are not force to work before they are ready. Phone lawyer Joe Miller today at 888-694-1671 and ask for Joe Miller, or email firstname.lastname@example.org to schedule an appointment.