People frequently ask me whether I can help them recover more money in an Iowa work injury case than they can get on their own. In this blog post I am going to talk about the benefits of hiring an experienced Iowa workers’ compensation attorney if you have been hurt on the job.
1. FREE CONSULTATIONS. Many Iowa attorneys, including lawyers at our firm, will talk to you for free about your case. In these meetings we probably will not be able to figure out everything about your case, but usually we can give you a pretty good idea of the strengths and weaknesses of your case, and an overview of what our strategy would be to handle your case if you wanted to hire us.
2. CONTINGENT FEE. We represent our clients in workers’ compensation, personal injury and wrongful death cases on what is called a contingent fee basis. This means that we get paid a percentage of what we are able to recover for our clients. It also means that if we don’t recover for our clients, then they do not have to pay us.
3. GOOD FAITH PAYMENTS AND ATTORNEYS’ FEES IN IOWA WORK INJURY CASES. Under Iowa law the defendants are required to make voluntary good faith payments for your injuries if the defendants are accepting the case. Our firm does not take a percentage of attorneys’ fees out of these good faith payments. We only earn attorneys’ fees out of the additional money we can recover for you. You can see more information on how good faith payments work, and how we handle them in my blog post of July 25, 2013 which is located here.
4. THE BEST WAY TO GET A GOOD SETTLEMENT IN AN IOWA WORK COMP CASE IS TO BE PREPARED TO TAKE THE CASE TO TRIAL. Insurance companies, like any business, are trying to make a profit. Therefore, an insurance company is not going to pay you anymore for your injury than they think you can get at trial. If you don’t have a lawyer your chances of doing well at trial are very low, and the insurance company is going to take that into account in their settlement negotiations. Our lawyers do all the work to make sure your case is ready to try if necessary, and this helps convince the defendants to assess your case at its full value. You can see more about this topic in my blog post of January 11, 2013 which is located here.
5. SOMETIMES IN ORDER TO RECOVER THE MONEY OUR CLIENTS ARE ENTITLED TO RECEIVE WE HAVE TO TAKE CASES TO TRIAL, AND FREQUENTLY ALSO HAVE TO PURSUE APPEALS ON BEHALF OF OUR CLIENTS. As mentioned above, without a lawyer your chances of doing well at trial and on appeal are not good. You can see more about some of the details of trials and settlements in my blog post of December 28, 2012 located here; my blog post of February 28, 2013 located here; and my blog post of April 18, 2013 located here.
6. DANGER AREAS IN IOWA WORK INJURY CASES. There are many potential pitfalls for an unrepresented injured worker trying to navigate the Iowa workers’ compensation system. You can read about some of them in my blog post of July 3, 2013 which is located here. This article is not an exhaustive list of the technical problems you can run into if you don’t have the assistance of an experienced attorney.
7. TIME LIMITS. In Iowa work accident cases there are a number of time limits that a worker has to comply with or he will lose his right to recover. My blog post of March 27, 2013 talks about these time limits, and can be found here. We make sure all the necessary time limits are complied with.
8. MAKING SURE YOU ARE PAID AT THE CORRECT WEEKLY RATE. Calculating the correct weekly rate that you are entitled to receive can be surprisingly difficult. There is also plenty of room for arguing what the weekly rate should be. My blog post of December 7, 2012 discussing the weekly rate topic and can be found here. We make sure that our clients are paid the correct rate to maximize their recovery.
9. MEDICAL CARE DISPUTES. Even if the defendants have accepted your injury as a workers’ compensation claim there is still plenty of potential for disputes about the medical care including whether surgeries should be pursued, whether certain tests should be performed, should an expert be consulted, should there be a second opinion, whether certain medications should be used, etc. The Iowa workers’ compensation system does have procedures for challenging denials of medical care by the defendants. My blog post of November 6, 2012 talks about handling medical care disputes and can be found here. An injured worker would have a difficult time working through the procedures on his own in order to get authorization for medical care that the defendants do not want to pay for.
10. OBTAINING GOOD EXPERT WITNESSES. In order to do well at settlement or trial it is important to have good expert medical opinions. My blog post of December 21, 2012 talks about this issue and can be found here.
In larger injury cases it is also frequently very helpful to have a vocational expert to help prove the economic effect of the injuries. My blog post of April 5, 2013 talks about this issue and can be found here.
Our lawyers make sure that we have good expert support for the cases of our clients.
11. ADVANCING EXPERT FEES AND OTHER LITIGATION EXPENSES. Many Iowa workers’ compensation lawyers, including the lawyers at our firm, will advance the costs of obtaining the necessary expert opinions and the other expenses of litigation. Fighting a workers’ compensation case can be very expensive, and most injured workers are not in a position to be able to pay for the necessary cost of preparing a good case.
12. KNOWLEDGE OF WORKERS’ COMPENSATION LAW. The biggest reason to hire an experienced workers’ compensation attorney is so that you have someone working for you who knows the law and can make sure that no potential areas of recovery are missed and that all the necessary steps are taken to do the best job possible. This is the 38th entry in our workers’ compensation blog, and I have barely scratched the surface of the number of issues and the complexity of the issues that come up in Iowa work injury cases. A lawyer who is knowledgeable in work comp law and experienced in trying cases can take that knowledge and experience and put it to work for you to get you the best possible result.
13. PROVIDING OBJECTIVE AND EXPERIENCED OPINIONS ON THE VALUE OF YOUR CLAIM. An experienced Iowa work injury lawyer can figure out and give you a range of what type of award your claim will likely result in at trial. The ability to figure out the value of the claim is the key to deciding whether to accept a final settlement offer or to take the case to trial.
14. EXPERIENCE AND ABILITY IN NEGOTIATING. The employees of the insurance companies do a good job of negotiating on behalf of their employers. The insurance adjusters also have an advantage over the injured workers in terms of knowledge about Iowa work comp law and experience in negotiating settlements. An experienced Iowa workers’ compensation lawyer will be able to effectively deal with the insurance adjusters. An experienced Iowa workers’ compensation lawyer will also be able to effectively deal with the defense lawyers if the case goes into litigation.
15. FIGURING OUT THE BEST FORM OF SETTLEMENT AND CORRECTLY HANDLING ALL THE SETTLEMENT DETAILS. In Iowa work comp cases there is a lot more to a settlement than simply figuring out how much money should be paid. There are open file settlements that preserve an injured worker’s right to future benefits, and closed file settlements which cut off the injured worker’s right to future benefits. My blog post of January 25, 2013 talks about this further, and that blog post can be found here.
In serious Iowa work injury cases Social Security Disability and future Medicare rights are very important issues. If a settlement is not handled correctly a worker can end up with his work comp benefits causing a reduction in his Social Security Disability payments.
Similarly, if the settlements are not handled correctly, a seriously injured worker can also end up in a situation where he does not have medical coverage for his future medical needs through either workers’ compensation or Medicare. My blog posts of February 1, 2013 and February 13, 2013 talk about these issues and can be found here and here.
Our lawyers make sure that any settlements are set up to best help our clients.
16. EXPERIENCED IOWA WORKERS’ COMPENSATION LAWYERS KNOW THE NECESSARY STEPS FOR OBTAINING LUMP SUM SETTLEMENTS OR AWARDS. In some cases injured workers prefer to receive a large lump sum settlement or award rather than continuing to receive a weekly workers’ compensation check. Sometimes insurance companies are willing to voluntarily make such lump sum payments. Other times our lawyers need to file a partial commutation lawsuit in order to obtain a lump sum recovery. My blog post of February 20, 2013 talks about obtaining lump sum payments through a partial commutation, and that article can be found here. An injured worker probably cannot successfully bring a partial commutation action on their own.
17. REDUCED STRESS. Some of my clients tell me that having a lawyer to handle all the details, the worrying, and the fighting is more valuable than the money I recover for them.