As a general rule, most people are hesitant about going to see a lawyer for various reasons. The main concerns are cost, fear of reprisal from the employer and uncertainty about who to see. The way I see it, is if you are engaging in the mental ping pong about whether or not to see a lawyer about your workers compensation claim, it is probably time that you do.
Ideally, to properly manage your claim and ensure that all of the required medical and other evidence is being obtained, as soon as practicable after the injury, or making a claim is the most beneficial time to engage a lawyer. This will ensure that the ‘i’ s will be dotted at the ‘t’ s crossed from the outset.
Workers’ compensation claim can be complex and what at the outset may seem like an insignificant claim can over time evolve into a more significant claim. In my experience I have witnessed many occasions where insignificant injuries have developed into more significant injuries. For example, a minor hand injury into a much more complex condition of complex regional pain syndrome or a lower back injury which over time displays symptoms of sciatica or neuropathy and requires surgery.
Another common condition which can develop is a primary or secondary psychological/psychiatric condition. Some people do not understand or even recognise that they are suffering from these conditions and do not know that they should speak to their doctor about what they are experiencing.
A good personal injury lawyer should advise their client that these emotions and symptoms are often experienced by people who have suffered trauma or have a chronic condition and should direct them to their health professional who will make the appropriate referral for treatment. The lawyer’s job is then to obtain the evidence in support of the causal connection between the physical injury and the development of the psychological condition and ensue that the insurer funds the required treatment.
The development of these conditions may change the direction of the claim and it is very important that time limits and key dates be recognised and adhered to. For example, if a Termination Date is not extended and the condition develops into a more significant one which reaches the statutory whole person impairment threshold of 15%, a common law claim against the employer is lost. For the injured person, this means certain workers compensation claim entitlements are lost and not able to be recovered. This is crucial for those workers who are significantly injured and are not able to return to their pre-injury employment, and are seeking compensation for loss of future income.
Personal injury lawyers have a very important role for injured workers. A good personal injury lawyer will ensure that all statutory time limits are identified and adhered to, advise the client about the claims process, the rehabilitation process, the options within the system, assist with dispute resolution, ….oh and not to forget…. providing support and direction during a very emotional time for the client…all with a view to maximising the client’s financial workers compensation claim entitlement. This is the service that we at Peninsula Personal Injury Lawyers are committed to providing to our clients.