Clients often ask, “How much is my case worth?” or, “How much can I get in a workers’ compensation settlement?” This often determines whether clients decide to settle, go to a hearing, or risk a workers' compensation trial. The amount that your case is worth depends on a few different factors. Beware of Minnesota workers’ compensation attorneys who try to tell you exactly how much your claim is worth because it’s impossible. At Meuser Law Office, P.A. we give clients an estimate of what they can hope to recover in a settlement, based on each individual’s injuries, average weekly wage, future earning potential, and permanency.
While you work comp case is in process, there are some things you can do as an injured worker to increase or maintain the value of your claim.
- Don't miss a scheduled Independent Medical Exam or (IME). If you miss an IME, you can hurt your claim. For example, you can be charged by the insurance company for the doctor’s no-show fee which can run around $600.00. If you are five minutes late to an IME, they can also charge you for the cancellation fee. If you run into an emergency where you are unable to attend the appointment, then call your workers’ compensation attorney right away to let them know.
- Conduct a diligent job search. If you are released to work but are no longer working for the date of injury employer, you must search for work. Documenting your job search is very important. Track everyone you talked to about the position, when you talked to them, print off the job description, and document, document, document. We give our clients job logs to keep track of each “point of contact” they make in their job search. We are honest with our clients and tell them: no job logs = no money.
- Continue treatment with your medical provider. Unfortunately, when a claim is denied, people often face financial hardship. They may have lost their job and thus, their health insurance. With workers’ compensation refusing to accept liability for their claim, paying for doctors’ bills can be very tough. But, large gaps in treatment can hurt your case so every effort must be made to attend doctor appointments and follow the course of treatment they prescribe.
- Behave appropriately in a deposition. The purpose of a deposition is more than just information and fact gathering. The other side wants to see what kind of witness you would make if your case went to a hearing before a judge. Opposing counsel will learn answers to questions such as, "Will the judge like this person? Is this person believable? Is this person being honest?" To start, show up to the deposition looking presentable. You don't need to show up in your Sunday best, but avoid pajama bottoms or sweats. Don't smoke an e-cigarette during the deposition. Most importantly, don't enter into an argument with the other attorney, no matter how argumentative they behave.
- Keep in contact with your workers’ compensation attorney's office. Losing contact with your attorney will also adversely affect your claim. If you move or change phone numbers, let us know! Litigation events occur spontaniously throughout the duration of your claim and we need to be able to keep you informed and consult with you.
- Don't do activities outside of your restrictions at home. If your doctor tells you that you can't lift over 15 pounds at work, you also can’t lift over 15 pounds at home. Not only are you delaying your recovery, you are also jeopardizing the value of your work comp claim. Minnesota insurance companies can and do hire private investigators to conduct surveillance. They may sit outside your house or follow you around the grocery store and take video of your activities. In addition, they will also check your social media. Don’t post pictures on Facebook or Twitter of you acting outside of your restrictions. If it's a picture you would would not want entered as an exhibit during a hearing, then don't post it on social media.
At Meuser Law Office, P.A. we have represented hundreds of injured workers. And, unfortunately, we’ve seen clients make the mistakes we’ve listed above. These mistakes translate into real lost settlement dollars. Contact us for a free, no-obligation claim consultation today. We will help you avoid the missteps that negatively affect your claim to make sure you receive the settlement you deserve.