Worker’s Compensation cases are notoriously difficult and a precious little to the injured worker. There were changes made in July 2014 that have made worker’s compensation not even a profitable practice area for most lawyers.
At our firm we are limiting worker’s compensation cases to only those that may end a career or the work life of someone. However, about one out of 20 worker’s compensation cases are actually also personal injury cases.
This is important because personal injury covers things like suffering lost wages and loss of enjoyment of life. These types of things are not fully compensated under worker’s compensation at all.
There are examples of a worker’s compensation case that can also be personal injury. One common one is if you are driving a work vehicle and you’re hit by a third-party who is at fault. You have both a worker’s compensation case and an injury case against the other party. Unfortunately, generally you have to pay worker’s compensation back something.
Another one involves work of an employee of another company. For instance if you’re walking across a roof and the employee of another company has stretched a rope that you can’t see, and it trips you and you are injured, you may have a claim against that company. Certainly you would have a worker’s compensation claim against your own employer.
These are different fees in worker’s compensation cases versus personal injury as well. By state statute a lawyer cannot charge more than 20% plus expenses for worker’s compensation. In addition, they must be court-approved or approved thru the Department of Labor. Personal injury, on the other hand, commonly is charged one third and some Memphis firms try to charge 40 to 45% plus expenses.
What is beautiful is when I can get a worker’s compensation case to pay all the bills and time off that they are allowed to pay, and then get them to agree to settle their small worker’s compensation claim in exchange for not receiving any money back from a personal injury claim. Then 100% of the personal injury claim belongs to the client and the attorney charges the one third and expenses. It’s a great outcome all the way around in most cases, especially if medicals are left open in a worker’s compensation case for life.
Cases can be complicated. It is not easy to ascertain sometimes whether it is worker’s compensation or personal injury. If you get hurt at work make sure that it’s written up immediately so that rights are preserved.
Then talk to an experienced injury lawyer who can determine whether or not there may be liability on another party. That’s not something you want to find out about two years from now. It might be entirely too late to do anything about any of it.
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