Using Your Right to a Change Of Physician Wisely

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Under Arkansas Law, the insurance company in a workers’ compensation claim has the right to direct an injured employee’s initial medical care.  Often times, this means that an injured worker will be sent to a “company doctor” who is familiar to both the insurance carrier and employer.  If the injured worker needs a referral to a specialist, the insurance company might tell the company doctor where to send a claimant for further evaluation. Under this scenario, it may not take very long at all for a work injury claim to become so overloaded with insurance-friendly physicians that it completely sinks the entire case, before the claimant even knows what happened.

Thankfully, our Workers’ Compensation Act allows an injured worker to ask for a one-time change of physician, to a doctor he or she wants to see, at basically any point during the claim.  The problem is that the insurance company may only have to pay for one office visit to the new doctor, unless the new physician provides the parties with some pretty compelling medical opinions to advance the evidence in the claim.  Because of this, knowing exactly when and how to use a physician change may be extremely important to the outcome of the claim.  If, for example, an uninformed claimant asks for a physician change at an unwise juncture in the case, to a doctor who thinks most folks alleging work injuries are scam artists, the physician change may have just been completely wasted, or worse.

Have questions about a physician change?  Give us a call.  We’re always here to help.

Neal L. Hart, Attorney at Law

AWCC Bacis Facts including Change of Physician

How Should I Choose A Workers’ Comp Attorney?

It’s an important question about an important choice.  A choice so important, in fact, that a favorable outcome in your case could very well depend upon it.  Some law firms handle workers’ compensation matters as a ‘side job’ of sorts; to pay the light bills and hope that it leads some other, more valuable case.  Retaining a law firm that dabbles in five or ten different areas of law to handle a workers’ compensation claim seems sort of like hiring a knee, shoulder and hip specialist to operate on your brain.  Some law firms use television ads and big billboards to clamor for the attention of the injured masses, hoping to land new workers’ compensation clients.  At the end of the day, however, judges and insurance companies really don’t care whether or not your attorney is on TV.  They’re interested in knowing if he’s good at what he does.

 

Believe it or not, there are workers’ compensation claimants out there who know basically nothing about the lawyer they’ve hired to represent them in their case.  They just saw some ad somewhere, and then signed on the dotted line.  When they call for information about their case, their “lawyer” may be “out,” and they’re shuffled over to some assistant who may or may not know anything of value about either the law or the claim.  At Hart Law, we want to know our clients, and we want them to know us.  When our clients call the firm, we know who they are, and we know about their case.  We believe that our clients deserve a very high level combination of legal skill and customer service; and we deliver that, every single day.  Insurance adjusters respect our work, and when we appear in court on your behalf, the folks there already know that we are experienced, successful, and highly skilled.

 

You may only have one shot at picking the right workers’ compensation attorney.  Before selecting one, it’s important to know what (and who) you’re actually getting.  At Hart Law, what you see is exactly what you get.  Workers’ compensation law is what we do.

 

Neal L. Hart, Attorney at Law

How To Settle Your Workers’ Compensation Claim

Let’s face it, when you’re injured at work, the last thing you’re thinking about is how to navigate the Workers’ Compensation claims process. And who could blame you? All you know is that you’re hurting and you want to get better – so you can get bacWorkers' Comp Claim Formsk to work. After all, there are bills to pay and mouths to feed.

But, in all honesty, figuring out how your Workers’ Comp injury translates into future medical expenses and possible job limitations should be at the top of your list. Because the longer you wait, the more uninformed decisions will be made that could jeopardize your Workers’ Compensation claim, your health and your future.

Here are the major steps to consider as you work to settle your Workers’ Compensation claim:

  1. Reach the end of your healing period.
  2. Make sure your employer has provided you with sufficient medical care.
  3. Verify that you’ve been paid benefits at the correct compensation rate.
  4. Assess the seriousness of your injury, most importantly, if you have a permanent impairment and permanent work restrictions.
  5. Determine if you have lost the ability to make your pre-injury wage.
  6. Decide if your injury will require training to perform a different job.
  7. Understand how much medical care you will need in the future and the cost associated with these healthcare services.
  8. Figure out how much all of this is worth under the Arkansas Workers’ Compensation Act and come up with a dollar figure reflecting that amount.
  9. Approach the insurance claims adjuster with a demand for settlement (this is often referred to as a “demand letter”).
  10. Convince the insurance claims adjuster – and likely their attorney – to agree to that settlement amount.
  11. Review and sign a lengthy set of settlement documents, prepared by the insurance company’s attorney(s).
  12. Go to court and ask an administrative law judge to agree to let you settle the case for the agreed upon amount.

If you have any questions about the Arkansas Worker’s Comp claims process, feel free to call us at 1-800-520-5874, or go hartlawfirmllp.com/#faqs. Helping injured workers is what we do. And even if we don’t represent you, we can help point you in the right direction.