Some Injuries Just Won’t Go Away
Has this happened to you or someone you know? Something happened a while ago, but the symptoms persist months or years later. Now, people are tired of hearing complaints, or simply don’t believe that the symptoms continue.
Just remember that many types of injuries and health problems create long term symptoms and difficulties. Just because you cannot see the physical injury of another person does NOT mean that they are healthy and fine. They may be suffering greatly.
An injury can be something that we all know to be very serious, such as a head trauma, followed by long term headaches, behavioral problems or cognitive difficulties. Or the injury can be a sprain or strain that leads to permanent pain, discomfort and limitations in the affected part of the body. But whatever it may be, people would do well to remember some compassion and provide some understanding. An injury that took place months or years earlier may still play a part in someone’s life with long term symptoms.
Most people with such long term symptoms are not looking for a free pass, but they would most certainly be grateful for the understanding that their medical issues are genuine, their long term symptoms are real and the negative effects on their lives are significant.
As a personal injury lawyer, I can tell you that this is taken into account when assessing the value of a case. As a workers’ compensation attorney, I see many people who do not even know that even though they received workers’ compensation benefits for an injury in the past, they may often pursue additional benefits, even years later, for the same injury. That’s why it’s always good to consult with an experienced personal injury and workers’ compensation attorney, someone who understands these issues and can help.
If you are in a motor vehicle accident or you fall down somewhere, make sure you take pictures. Even if you have no intention at that moment in time of pursuing any sort of legal action, take pictures. Even if you do not think you are hurt, take pictures.
Take pictures of what? Any marks on your body from an injury, such as bruising, swelling, redness, abrasions. If you’re in a car accident, take photos of the damage to your vehicle. Take photos of any damage both inside of your vehicle and outside. Take photos of the other vehicle. Take photos of the accident scene with the vehicles before they are moved. If you fall down somewhere, take photos of the scene. Take pictures of whatever is on the ground that made you slip or lose your balance.
Why are we doing this? Of course, it is to document what happened. Even if you do not pursue a personal injury case, you still may need this documented in case the police report gets it wrong. You may need things documented so that if any insurance issues arise, you have some evidence. You may need things documented if your employer gives you a hard time. Also, if someone else tries to blame you for what happened, you have some evidence.
And of course, somewhere down the road, if you come to realize that you were injured, or your injuries are worse than you initially thought, and you then decide to pursue your legal rights, at least you have preserved some evidence. It could help your lawyer tremendously in trying to prove your case.
Photos in a personal injury situation can be very valuable in establishing what happened, how it happened and the extent of any damage to the body or property. Just remember that it’s far better to have photos that you never need to use than to need photos that you never took.
Hurt at work? Save yourself and report it!
Always report your injury to your management in writing if you are hurt at work. Doing so, and doing it promptly, starts the ball rolling for your medical care to be paid and it helps you with certain protections you have under the law.
For example, it is against the law for your employer to terminate your employment, discriminate against you or retaliate in any way based on you having or pursuing a workers’ compensation claim. We all know that many employers will respect your rights and follow this law. And unfortunately, we also know that many employers will not respect this law. So if they do not respect the law and instead look for ways to give you a hard time, or outright terminate you, you want to be able to hold them accountable.
The problem is that if you have not put anything in writing to your employer about being hurt at work, then your employer can deny that anything they did to you flows from your work injury, and they will claim they simply did not know about the work injury.
So protect yourself and document it. If you fill out a form at your Human Resources Department, keep a copy. If you fax something, keep a copy of the confirmation sheet. If you email, make sure to get a reply, so you can establish they received your email in the first place. If you speak with them, follow it up with something in writing to confirm the conversation.
Remember that by documenting your injury, you are helping things move along with regard to the benefits you may be eligible for, and you are also establishing your employer’s awareness of your injury which provides you with protections should your employer choose to retaliate against you.
I was hurt in a car accident. How long do I have to file a case?
In Connecticut, you have two years.
The rule is that when you are injured due to the negligence of another person, if you wish to pursue a personal injury case to receive money compensation for your injuries, you must file your case in court within two years from the date of the incident.
Bear in mind that as in all things legal, there are some nuances and exceptions which could extend the time beyond two years, and there are even some types of cases where you have less than two years, but as a general rule, it is two years.
That does not mean you should take no action until almost two years have gone by. On the contrary, if you are injured due to negligence, you should consult with an experienced personal injury attorney immediately. Here are some reasons: 1) if you wait, you may fail to have your case built properly from the beginning, which leads to having a weaker case; 2) without even knowing you are doing it, you may help the other side and hurt your case from documents you fill out, things you say and things you do; 3) waiting to the last minute to get an attorney involved can make it harder for the lawyer to do the job; and 4) some types of cases involving negligence, including some motor vehicle accidents, have shorter time periods involved and extra requirements which must be met, so you always want an attorney working on your behalf quickly in order to evaluate these possibilities and potential pitfalls.
Remember, always get a lawyer involved right away on your behalf. But also know that if for whatever reason that did not happen, you still may have time. If injured in a car accident, you might even have two years to have that case filed in court before you forever lose your rights.
How do I see a doctor when injured in an accident if I don’t have insurance?
The answer is that there are many very good doctors and medical practices who will provide you with quality medical care and be kind enough to wait to be paid until your case is over.
How does this work? It’s simple. If you have an experienced personal injury attorney, your lawyer will know the various medical providers in your area and which ones will agree to do this. Your experienced personal injury attorney will know doctors in many medical specialties such as orthopedic physicians, chiropractors, physical therapists and neurologists. Most of these health care providers are excellent physicians dedicated to quality patient care.
The doctors will provide you with medical treatment and they will issue ordinary medical bills. Your lawyer will include the medical bills in your case so that when your case is over, and you win a settlement or judgment, you will then be able to have your doctor paid.
If you are injured from a motor vehicle accident or a slip-and-fall/fall down, or any other negligence situation, be sure to consult with an experienced personal injury attorney and remember that one of the things we lawyers can help you with is directing you to good physicians who will treat you even if you do not have insurance.
How long do I have to file a claim? I was hurt at work.
The short answer is that you have ONE year from the date of the injury to file your workers’ compensation claim.
Here’s the longer explanation, and what you need to know.
When you are hurt at work, in order to “file a claim,” what you must do is file a legal form (called a Form 30C) with the State of Connecticut Workers’ Compensation Commission. You have one year to do this from the date of your injury.
Some injuries do not occur at a specific moment in time, or on a specific date. Instead, they occur over a long period of time due to either: a) an occupational disease (such as an irritant in your lungs); or b) a repetitive trauma (such as carpal tunnel due to repetitive use of hands and arms). The deadline for filing a claim for an occupational disease or a repetitive trauma is more complex and you should always speak with an attorney.
There are also some exceptions to the one year deadline which allow you to file a claim even after the one year deadline. So if you are not sure, it would be smart for you to consult with an experienced workers’ compensation attorney.
Finally, even though you have a full year to file your claim, it is a mistake to wait that long. You should have an attorney file your claim promptly. Also, you should immediately report your injury to management and fill out a First Report of Injury form with your employer. Do not make the mistake of thinking that reporting the injury or filling out the form is the same thing as filing your workers’ compensation claim. It is not.
As usual, the best thing you can do when you have a workplace injury is to consult with an experienced workers’ compensation attorney. I provide a free initial consultation. And if your injury happened a while ago, bear in mind that you have a full year to file the claim, and even then, there are some exceptions which give you even longer. Let an experienced lawyer decide whether it is too late, and be sure to have that free consultation.
I don’t want to file a claim!
I’ve been representing workers’ compensation clients for close to 22 years and I’ve heard that many times. It usually takes place in the following context.
Injured at work –> need medical care –> not sure what to do or how to do it –> don’t want to anger the employer by getting lawyer involved or filing a claim.
The reality is that if you are hurt at work and need medical care, then the workers’ compensation laws apply and the workers’ compensation insurance covers the medical bills, NOT your regular health insurance.
If you try to put a work injury through your regular health insurance, you will end up with a problem when the health insurance figures out that you want them to pay for medical care related to a work injury. Some might even call your effort to do this insurance fraud.
The insurance that pays for your medical care for a work injury is your employer’s workers’ compensation insurance. And that means you have a workers’ compensation claim that is going through your employer’s workers’ comp insurance. So like it or not, even if you don’t want to file a claim, you have a claim going anyway just by virtue of being hurt at work and seeking medical care.
You might as well have your own lawyer to watch your back and make sure the insurance company plays by the rules to pay you the workers’ comp benefits you are supposed to receive under the law, including paying for your medical care. Just remember that when you are hurt at work, even if you don’t want to file a claim, you have one going anyway, and you should consult with an experienced workers’ compensation attorney.
How long does a workers’ compensation claim last?
The answer is that it never ends (unless you no longer work for the same employer and both sides choose to settle).
At first, many of my clients get worried or uncomfortable with the idea that their workers’ comp claim can continue for so long. But then I explain that it’s not a bad thing. It’s actually a good thing. It’s like having a permanent insurance policy on the injured part of your body. Whether it is future medical care that you need for the injury or other benefits you may qualify for related to the injury, you have the ability to pursue those benefits, even in the distant future. That’s a good thing. And this is even if you thought your claim was over or it has been dormant. Just as long as your original workers’ comp injury is a substantial factor in causing the new need for medical care or other benefits.
You should know that a workers’ compensation claim can settle, but you don’t have to do so. You would need: 1) no longer be working for the employer where you were hurt; 2) both sides choose to settle; 3) both sides agree on a dollar figure; and 4) a workers’ compensation Commissioner will need to approve the deal.
Having an experienced workers’ compensation attorney is very important because: 1) it helps you make sure in your original claim that the workers’ compensation insurance company plays by the rules and pays you all of the benefits you are supposed to receive; 2) it helps you properly revive an old or dormant workers’ comp claim should the need arise; 3) the attorney has the knowledge and experience to safely determine if you are better off keeping your workers’ comp claim open for the long term or if you might be better off settling; and 4) the attorney will make sure that if you choose to settle, you are not cheated by the insurance company on the amount and that you are paid appropriately for your work injury.
So remember, if you have a work injury, make sure you have an experienced workers’ compensation lawyer working on your behalf to help you with your claim and even a possible settlement.
What happens if I have 2 jobs but I’m disabled from getting hurt at 1 of them?
In Connecticut, if you are hurt while working, then workers’ compensation laws apply and you become eligible for workers’ compensation benefits. If you had a second job at the same time, this is known as concurrent employment.
The rule is that if your injury at job #1 has you disabled from working both of your jobs, then your weekly workers’ compensation wage benefit takes into account your earnings from BOTH of your jobs.
Of course, you should have an experienced workers’ compensation attorney representing you in order to ensure that this is done correctly and that you are receiving the correct weekly benefit.
Am I screwed if I worked a lot of overtime, but now I’m disabled due to getting hurt on the job?
The short answer is no. You just need to make sure you have an experienced workers’ compensation attorney to fight for you and ensure that the insurance company follows the rules and the law correctly.
Under Connecticut law, when you are disabled due to an on-the-job injury, you may be eligible for a weekly workers’ compensation check to replace your lost income. The amount is 75% of your weekly net from before your injury. This amount is calculated by looking at the 52 weeks that you worked before your injury, taking into account and including your overtime earnings.
In some instances, maximum or minimum amounts may be applicable to your situation, so there can definitely be some nuances. However, overall, your weekly workers’ compensation benefit should include money to account for your overtime earnings.