Have you been injured on the job and need strong, reliable representation for your workers compensation case? Call Davis, Johnson and Kallal and let us fight for and obtain the compensation you deserve. In certain cases, you may have the ability to receive additional compensation directly from the person or company that caused your injuries. Partners Jason Johnson and Justin Kallal specialize in working with our clients on these types of cases. We have the knowledge and experience to identify these opportunities and ensure that you receive the maximum compensation for your injuries possible.
- Lost Wages
- Medical Expenses
- Rehabilitation Expenses
- Permanent Impairment Awards
- Loss of Earning Capacity Awards
- Education and/or Retraining Benefits
- Third party or co-employee compensation
DO NOT IGNORE FINAL DETERMINATIONS!
It is imperative that you carefully review each final determination and make certain that it does not negatively affect your claim. You only have fifteen (15) days to object to a final determination and after that it is FINAL, so immediately review each final determination and object immediately if you feel it will negatively impact your claim. Also, fee free to call us with questions about final determinations if you are not sure. We do not charge for these phone calls and we are happy to answer your questions.
When to call an attorney
It is important that you do your best to work with your claims analysts as they will be your primary point of contact with Workers’ Compensation, but you should call an attorney anytime you have questions that you do not feel your claims analyst has fully answered or anytime you have concerns about a final determination. Many questions can be quickly be answered by an attorney.
Also, the attorney can let you know if you need to object to a final determination and potentially proceed to hearing on the objection. Contacting an attorney can give you peace of mind and insure that all of your claims and rights are properly preserved.
Who Pays for my attorney
The State of Wyoming will pay for your attorney to represent you in a contested case in the Office of Administrative Hearings or before the Medical Commision. You are not required to pay for your attorney or for any of the expenses of taking your claim to hearing.
Temporary Total Disability
Workman’s Compensation will pay you 2/3s of your normal wage if your medical doctor determines that you are not able to return to work because of your on the job injury. The amount is capped at $2,603.02, for the first quarter of 2019, based upon the statewide average wage.
You do not have to pay taxes on the money you receive so that is why it is 2/3 of your normal paycheck. If you regularly work overtime it is very important that your let your claims analyst know this and provide them with the proper documentation so you can be correctly compensated.
IMEs and Impairment Ratings
The Division of Workman’s Compensation will send you for an IME (Independent Medical Examination) when either your treating physician has determined you are at maximum medical improvement or your claims analyst hopes that an IME doctor will determine that you are maximum medical improvement. If it is determined that you are at maximum medical improvement then you will be given an impairment rating and you will stop receiving Temporary Total Disability payments.
The first important thing you need to know is that there is nothing independent about an IME doctor. The doctors who perform IMEs are chosen by the Division of Workmans’ Compensation because they have proven over time that they will consistently side with the Division and find that you are at maximum medical improvement and then give you a very conservative impairment rating. There is not much you can do about this at the initial stage of your first IME but to show up at the examination and comply with the request of the IME doctor.
The second important thing you need to know is that even if the doctor conducting your IME was actually independent it might not matter. Impairment ratings for workers’ compensation are based upon the 6th Edition of the AMA Guide to Rating Permanent Impairment. This is a guide written for insurance companies and workmans’ compensation carriers and is designed to create an objective and defensible way to minimize your permanent injuries.
The guide relies upon objective measurements like loss of range of motion or the loss of arm to come up with a numerical percentage for your permanent physical impairment. Often, if you suffer from severe chronic pain from your injury it will actually make it so you have lower impairment rating even if your pain is so great it prevents you from working. IMEs and impairment ratings are not fair.
Even though IMEs and impairment ratings are not fair it is still important that you get all the compensation you are entitled to under the 6th Edition. If your first impairment rating appears to be low, then contact Davis, Johnson and Kallal and will review the impairment rating for you and let you know if the IME doctor followed the 6th Edition or if he or she rated you too low. You have a right to dispute the first IME and receive a second IME, however, the second IME will also be from a doctor chosen by workers’ compensation. If the second rating is again too low then it may be appropriate to object to it and proceed to a hearing to get the compensation you deserve.
The most important thing you need to know is that the IME doctor may find you have reached maximum medical improvement even when you have not. This can be a financial debacle if you are not healthy enough to return to work because workman’s compensation will cut off your Temporary Total Disability payments as soon as the doctor finds you have reached maximum medical improvement. Immediate action needs to be taken in this situation to object to the final determination and get a lawyer fighting for your rights. Davis, Johnson & Kallal is ready to help you fight to keep the benefits you need to survive.
What about pain and suffering
Workers’ compensation does not provide benefits for pain and suffering. Workers’ compensation provides benefits for medical bills, lost wages, partial permanent impairment, vocational rehabilitation, total permanent disability and death benefits.
In certain rare situations you may be able to receive compensation for pain and suffering from the person or company who hurt you, in addition to your workman’s compensation benefits.
Davis, Johnson & Kallal specializes in these types of cases and has recovered millions of dollars for our clients over the years in addition to their workers’ compensation benefits. To learn more about this please read the sections on “My fellow employee hurt me can I get more money” and “More money: Third Party Claims.”
My coworker hurt me
Most of the time if you are hurt by a fellow employee while you are both working, then your only source of compensation is workers’ compensation. However, if your fellow employee hurt you because he or she was being a dangerous jackass and recklessly putting you in danger, then you likely have a “co-employee” claim that can potential allow you additional compensation. Here are some examples of situations where you would likely have a co-employee claim.
Your fellow employee was required to drive you to another job site during the day and for breakfast he had six shots of liquor and he crashes the work truck into a tree injuring you. You have a high probability of a co-employee claim against the driver.
Your boss requires you to do something that she knows or should know is extremely dangerous, like working in a trench without proper shoring or working around live electrical wires without proper protection, then you have a high probability of a co-employee claim against your boss.
Your fellow employee shots you in the eye with a nail gun while engaged in unauthorized horseplay with another employee, then you have a high probability of a co-employee claim against employee that shot you.
Co-employee cases are complicated and you must have experience and competent counsel. These cases typically involve complicated insurance coverage issues and fact patterns that can only be handled by experienced attorneys. Davis, Johnson & Kallal specialize in these claims and has a proven track record of getting additional compensation for our clients in these situations.
More money third party claims
Third party claims are another possible way that you can receive more compensation than just workers’ compensation benefits. Here is a simple example of a third party claim. You are at work driving a UPS truck and you are hit by a FedEx truck and severely injured. The FedEx driver is 100% at fault. In addition to your claim for workers’ compensation benefits you would also have a claim against FedEx and the other driver. Many times a third party claim will not be this obvious and that is why it is important to have an experienced workers’ compensation attorney evaluate your claim to see if there might be a third party claims.
Unlike workers’ compensation you can receive compensation from a third party for pain and suffering and loss of enjoyment of life. This can sometimes add hundreds of thousands of dollars or more to the amount of compensation you receive for your injuries. At Davis, Johnson & Kallal we also we do a complete investigation to determine if there is any chance to bring a third party claim so we can insure you get all possible compensation.
What happens after I object to a final determination
After you object to a final determination of the dispute will be set for a hearing. You will have thirty (30) days to hire an attorney to represent you during the hearing process. Most cases are set to be heard in the Office of Administrative hearings before an Administrative Hearings Officer.
The Hearings Officer acts like a judge but the process is less formal than going to Court. Some matters that involve primarily medical questions will be set to be heard before the Medical Commission.
Cases before the Medical Commision are heard by a panel of three members, one of whom must be a physician, who will decide the case by a majority vote. Medical commision cases typically take longer to be heard than Administrative Hearings.
How long does it take to go to hearing
Cases that are before the Office of Administrative Hearings are typically heard within twelve (12) months. After the hearing, the Hearings Officer has thirty (30) days to issue a decision.
Cases that are before the Medical Commision can take longer than twelve (12) months, especially if they are complicated and involve many treating physicians.
What can I do when I am not getting TTD Benefits
If work comp has stopped paying your TTD benefits, but you are unable to work, then you should apply for unemployment benefits.
You can file a claim online at http://www.wyomingworkforce.org/workers/ui/ or by calling (307) 473-3789.
What can I do when I am not getting MEdical benefits
If work comp has denied your claim and is refusing to pay your medical benefits, then do not hesitate to continue your treatment and submit your bills to your private medical insurance. If you proceed to hearing and it is determined that your injury is covered, then work comp will reimburse your health insurance.
If you proceed to hearing and it is determined that your injury is not covered, then your private health insurance will continue to pay your medical bills with no penalty to you. The most important thing is that you receive the medical care your doctors and health care providers recommend.
If you sustain a permanent injury that prevents you from returning to work in your chosen field, then you may qualify for vocational rehabilitation. If you qualify, then you will have the opportunity to receive a small stipend while you receive training and education to allow you to return to work in a different field that can accommodate your injury and limitations. For more information on this please visit http://www.wyomingworkforce.org/workers/vr/.
report of injury form
IT IS THE INJURED WORKER’S RESPONSIBILITY TO FILL OUT THE REPORT OF INJURY NOT THE EMPLOYER!
You must notify your employer within seventy-two (72) hours of your workplace injury and you must file a Report of Injury with workers compensation within ten (10) days. You can find these forms at http://www.wyomingworkforce.org/workers/workerscomp/ Make sure you list every single injury on the report. Be sure and include every body part that you feel is injured even if you do not think it is a serious injury.
Sometimes serious injuries will not be obvious, especially if you have multiple parts of your body that are injured. If you do not list an injury on the report, then workers’ comp may try and deny your claim at a later date.
At the very least you should talk with an experienced personal injury lawyer before settling your case.
At the very least you should talk with an experienced personal injury lawyer before settling your case.
Davis, Johnson and Kallal
1807 Capitol Ave., Suite 200, Cheyenne, Wyoming 82001.