Avoiding the Roadblocks to a Workers’ Comp Resolution
At first glance, the resolution of workers’ compensation cases appears straightforward. A worker is injured, they report the injury, and the company pays benefits. Unfortunately, these cases rarely work this smoothly because employers often implement time-tested delaying tactics that create frustrating roadblocks for the employee. The general employer/insurance philosophy is that the harder it is for an employee to get the benefits they deserve by law, the more likely the employee will give up their rights or settle for far less compensation than they should receive. Many people become so frustrated with the delays that they give up, resigned to not going to get their benefits.
Employers often drag their feet in two key areas: doctors’ appointments and pay while the employee is off work. As noted, the employer hopes the injured worker will just give up. After all, employers wouldn’t use delaying tactics if they didn’t work. But instead of giving up, the injured worker can gain the upper hand by bringing in an experienced workers’ comp attorney to navigate the process for them. If the attorney fights as hard as they should for the employee, the resulting settlement likely will be more costly to the employer. It also helps if the injured worker has an attorney who’s been “in the trenches” and been involved in a wide variety of cases over time. What might seem straightforward may not be.
Do know though, even with an attorney, workers’ comp cases take time, especially if the case is convoluted or difficult. Plus, some delays are inherent in workers’ comp cases, such as when attempting to take a case to court, which can take a minimum of 60-90 days. During the pandemic, court wasn’t even in session! This is frustrating to the injured worker who needs treatment sooner than later.
Persistence and professionalism are the attorney’s keys to moving the case forward. This doesn’t mean harassing the other side; it means establishing a working relationship based on mutual respect. It’s the attorney’s job to present their client’s case honestly and with some urgency because, after all, the client is injured. By creating a relationship based on respect and understanding, both sides can work together to create a solution that takes care of the employee.
Issues can crop up even in the best of circumstances though. For instance, if the employee doesn’t tell the attorney information that could impact their case, the case could get bogged down. It’s not only the attorney’s job to support the case; the employee has a vested interest and duty to understand and work with the attorney to keep the case on track. By working as a team, the delaying tactics employed by the other side can be overcome more easily.