Do I Need a Lawyer?
As I have written elsewhere on this site, perhaps no other area of Georgia law involves less fighting than workers’ compensation injury claims, with the possible exception of divorce cases. Insurance companies are in the business of making money and any claim that is filed represents a potential loss to them.
Employers hate injury claims because any claim that is filed will cause their insurance premiums to go up. This is why you should not be surprised when that “family environment” you may have felt at your job quickly disappears when you file an injury claim.
Back in the late 1980′s and early 1990′s I worked at a large insurance defense law firm, representing the interests of employers and their insurers. While some of the insurance adjusters I dealt with wanted to do the right thing, many of these adjusters encouraged me to do everything in my power to make claims go away as cheaply as possible.
Tip: You might find this video on choosing the right kind of lawyer useful.
In the mid-1990′s I left the insurance defense firm and opened my current practice dedicated to representing injured workers only. But my years of representing insurance companies has been very helpful to me and to my clients, because I can recognize many of the tactics used by defense lawyers to avoid paying claims:
Surveillance – insurance companies routinely hire private investigators to video tape claimants performing household chores and activities supposedly inconsistent with their injuries
Frivolous denial of claims – insurance adjusters know that many injured workers live under very tight budgets and a few weeks of no money coming in can lead to cheap settlements
Frivolous denial of medical benefits – insurance adjusters will routinely refuse voluntary authorization of needed medical care in an effort to force an early and low ball settlement
Misrepresentation of things you may have said or written – insurance defense lawyers carefully read every page of your medical record. If you are alleging neck pain but complaints about neck pain do not appear in your medical record, the insurance company will challenge the compensability of that part of your claim. A good attorney will review your medical records as they are submitted and clarify any obvious omissions.
Use of employer-biased doctors – there are many doctors and “industrial clinics” in Georgia who get most or all of their business from worker’s compensation insurance companies. Not surprisingly the reports coming from these physicians will seek to minimize your injuries and return you to work early. After 20+ years of practice, I know or know of most of the doctors that you are likely to see and I use that knowledge for the benefit of my clients by seeking changes in the authorized treating physician if medical care is substandard
Low ball settlement offers – even if the insurance company pays all wage benefits on time and provides adequate medical care, they will try to persuade you to settle your claim for far less than it is worth. Here, too, after 25+ years, I have a good idea about what cases are worth, and perhaps even more importantly, when to seek settlement.
So, while there is no legal requirement that you retain the services of a lawyer to assist you with your workers’ compensation claim, I would encourage you to strongly consider the wisdom of doing so. I hope that you will consider me to serve as your counsel and that if you have any questions about the workers’ compensation process, you will pick up your phone and call me today at 770-351-0801.
P.S. I hope you find this Survival Kit valuable but I want to emphasize that you should not consider anything in this Kit or on this website as legal advice. I can only offer legal advice to clients who have hired me by signing a written retainer agreement. So if you would like to learn more about Georgia workers’ compensation law impacts you based on the facts of your case, please call me today. Thanks!
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