Posts Tagged ‘Concord NH Workers’ Compensation Attorney’
Wednesday, October 3rd, 2012
By Benjamin T. King
– New Hampshire Workers’ Compensation Lawyer
An employee’s ability to obtain workers’ compensation benefits for a disabling work injury often depends on the content of the employee’s medical records. If you neglect to tell your doctor that you were hurt at work, this innocent oversight could prove fatal to your workers’ compensation claim.
Doctors generally prepare detailed records of their visits with their patients. These records describe, among other things, the patient’s symptoms and the circumstances under which the patient states the injury occurred. If the employee states that the injury occurred at work, the doctor should note this in the patient’s records and should complete a New Hampshire Workers’ Compensation Medical Form. If the patient neglects to tell the doctor that the injury occurred at work, the medical record will contain no evidence of the work-related nature of the injury, and no New Hampshire Workers’ Compensation Medical Form will get completed.
The lack of any reference in the medical records to an employee’s injury having occurred at work can result in the employee being denied workers’ compensation benefits. In a recent New Hampshire Department of Labor decision, a hearing officer determined that an employee had failed to meet his burden to prove by competent medical evidence that his injury was work-related. The hearing officer therefore denied the employee workers’ compensation benefits. In that case, the medical records described the injury, but the records failed to note that the injury occurred at work.
Do not fall into this trap. Just be sure to tell your doctor that your injury happened at work. Ask your doctor to make sure to state that the injury occurred at work in the medical records. If your doctor does not complete a New Hampshire Workers’ Compensation Medical Form, remind him or her to do so.
If you need assistance with your New Hampshire workers’ compensation claim, contact an experienced New Hampshire workers’ compensation attorney at Douglas, Leonard & Garvey, P.C. or fill out our online contact form.
Monday, April 9th, 2012
For whatever reason, many injured workers harbor the mistaken belief that, once they begin receiving workers’ compensation disability benefits, they will receive them forever. This is not the case. There are several ways disability benefits may terminate. First, there is a 5-year cap on temporary partial disability benefits–the type of benefits that injured employees may receive if they have a light duty work capacity or if they are working a job that pays less than what they earned at the job in which they were injured. No such cap exists on temporary total disability benefits–the type of benefits injured employees receive if their injury renders them completely unable to work any job for which they are suited. Temporary total benefits may be suspended if a carrier schedules an employee for a medical examination and the employee fails to attend it. Such benefits may also be terminated through an RSA 281-A:48 petition filed by the carrier with the Department of Labor. When a carrier files such a petition, the Department of Labor holds a hearing attended by the employee and a carrier representative, usually an attorney. The carrier bears the burden to prove at the hearing that the employee has work capacity and that benefits should be discontinued. Benefits stop immediately if the Department finds that the carrier has met this burden.
Due to the risk of benefits being terminated, it makes sense under appropriate circumstances for employees to explore lump sum settling their claims. Disability benefits stop when the Department approves a lump sum settlement, but the employee can walk away with a sum of money to help to compensate for their injury and allow them to move on with life.
We can assist in negotiating a lump sum settlement and assessing your workers’ compensation rights. Benjamin King at Douglas, Leonard & Garvey, P.C. is experienced in representing employees in workers’ compensation matters. Call us at 1-800-240-1988 or fill out our online Contact form.
Wednesday, July 20th, 2011
When you treat with your doctor for a work-related injury, make sure your doctor completes the New Hampshire Workers’ Compensation Medical Form
! The Workers’ Compensation Medical Form is a New Hampshire Department of Labor form that asks the doctor to describe the employee’s injury, state whether the injury is work-related, and state what restrictions the injury imposes on the employee’s physical functioning. The form further requires the doctor to state whether the employee can work or whether the injury has disabled the employee from working.
Your doctor must complete the Workers’ Compensation Medical Form in order for you to receive the benefits that you should. You will not receive any workers’ compensation benefits without a form from your doctor certifying that the doctor believes you have suffered a work injury. You will not receive disability benefits without forms from your doctor stating the time periods during which your injury disabled you from work.
Even in cases where it is clear that an employee has suffered a disabling work-related injury, the doctor sometimes forgets to complete the New Hampshire Workers’ Compensation Medical Form. This omission can disqualify injured employees from receiving the benefits they should. If you are an injured employee, make sure your doctor completes the form so your entitlement to benefits is not jeopardized. If you have a work-related injury, give us a call at 1-800-240-1988 or fill out on online contact form to see if we can be of assistance.
Friday, June 24th, 2011
Filing a personal injury or workers’ compensation claim can be complicated and there are many different steps involved before the case is resolved. One of these steps may involve an examiner by a medical examiner, which is a doctor hired by the defendant’s insurance company. This is sometimes referred to as an “independent” medical examination but that is not accurate. Instead, this examination should be called a Defense Medical Examination.
It’s important to keep in mind that the medical examiner is NOT your doctor and they were hired to assist the defense in disproving your claim or minimizing the extent of your injuries. Given this fact, you should be prepared by your lawyer ahead of time and know what to expect before your appointment so that you don’t do anything that might hurt your case.
Here are a few suggestions:
Be concise when answering questions. When asked about your pain or symptoms, state them clearly and concisely. Rambling on may result in your saying the wrong thing, or mentioning something that may hurt your case in the long run. Keep it to the point and you will be fine.
Be polite and cooperative. There is no need to be hostile with the medical examiner, even though you know they are not on your side. Be as pleasant as you can and do as he or she asks. For example, if the doctor requests that you bend or twist, do so to the best of your ability but within your limits.
Avoid exaggeration. The medical examiner is looking for people who get carried away when describing their pain. Going overboard may make you appear to be dishonest or exaggerating will only hurt your case.
Know your condition and don’t minimize it. Although it’s good to be concise in your answers, you should also be sure not to leave out anything important when it involves your pain and symptoms. Be specific and accurate in your list of limitations and complaints so that everything important is properly documented.
Understand the details of your claim. The medical examiner may ask you specific questions about your case, like the date of the incident, the details of what happened, or the names of doctors you have consulted with. Know this information ahead of time so that you’re prepared and confident.
Try not to be emotional. Certainly the experience of being injured can be emotional, and dealing with the pain and suffering is upsetting. But try to stay as focused as possible when meeting with the medical examiner. Leaving the emotion out of it can make the visit go much more quickly and smoothly.
Be honest. If a medical attorney has agreed that you are, in fact, a victim, there should be no reason to lie or stretch the truth when visiting with an independent medical examiner. Doing so will only serve to hurt your case so remember to keep it honest.
These are just a few suggestions to help prepare you for this part of your case. An experienced personal injury or workers’ compensation attorney from Douglas, Leonard & Garvey, will sit down with you to discuss your concerns and answer any questions you may have before you go to the appointment. Being prepared and knowing what to expect can make a difference between a winning case or a loss. Call our office at 1-800-240-1988 or fill out our contact form online.
Thursday, May 5th, 2011
If you have suffered a work-related injury, you may be entitled to permanent impairment compensation under New Hampshire statutory law, and you may pursue your permanent impairment award years after the injury occurred.<p>>
Most rights that New Hampshire workers’ compensation law confers on injured employees have expiration dates. This is true of most rights under the law. If you do not act to preserve your right within a specified time period, you lose the right.<p>
The permanent impairment award is the rare exception. Three (3) events must transpire for an injured employee to qualify for a permanent impairment award. First, the injured employee must reach maximum medical improvement with respect to his work-related injury. Second, the work injury must have caused the injured employee to suffer a permanent loss of use of the function of a body part. Third, a doctor must evaluate the percentage loss of use according to the methods prescribed by a publication of the American Medical Association called the AMA Guides to the Evaluation of Permanent Impairment, Fifth Edition. Notably, New Hampshire Department of Labor regulations require that the carrier pay the doctor’s bill for evaluating the extent of impairment, if the employee has reached maximum medical improvement and has not previously undergone any medical evaluation for permanency.<p>
The amount of the permanent impairment award is determined by this mathematical formula: (Percentage loss of use as determined by the doctor) X (a certain number of weeks of disability benefits, which number depends on the affected body part) X (the injured employee’s compensation rate at the time of injury, which rate is equivalent to 60% of the employee’s average weekly wage).<p>
The Department of Labor must approve any permanent impairment award. If the workers’ compensation carrier disputes the extent of the award owing, or disputes whether any award is owing at all, the employee may request a hearing before the Department of Labor to resolve the dispute. The carrier will be represented by an attorney through this process, so the employee should be represented as well.<p>
Unsurprisingly, carriers do not bend over backwards to inform injured employees of their potential rights to permanent impairment compensation. But, unlike most other rights under the law, there is no expiration date on the right to this compensation. If you have suffered a work injury that may have had some permanent impact on you, and you have not received a permanent impairment award, you should consult an experienced workers’ compensation attorney such as Benjamin King, Esquire, at Douglas, Leonard & Garvey, P.C. to discuss pursuing the compensation to which you may be entitled. Call the office or fill our on-online contact form.
Sunday, May 1st, 2011
If you suffer a compensable work-related injury, the workers’ compensation carrier must pay the medical bills for all treatment that is reasonable and related to the injury. There is no time limit on this obligation. For so long as the treatment is deemed to be reasonable and related to the injury, the carrier must pay the bills.
Carriers will often try to evade this obligation, however, by arbitrarily denying medical bills. If the injured employee does nothing in response to this, the carrier will get away with not paying the bill. Don’t let the carrier get away with this!
If you are an injured employee, and your workers’ compensation carrier denies a bill for treatment that your medical providers believe is reasonable and related to your work injury, you should appeal the denial to the New Hampshire Department of Labor within 18 months of the date the carrier denies the bill.
You should enlist the aid of an experienced workers’ compensation attorney if you find yourself having to appeal the denial of a medical bill. The attorney will not charge you anything to represent you on a medical bill issue before the Department of Labor. How does the attorney get paid? If the attorney prevails for you, and obtains a Department of Labor Order requiring the carrier to pay the disputed bills, the carrier must pay your attorney’s fees. The carrier must also pay the injured employee’s attorney’s fees if the carrier denies a bill, forcing an employee to request a Department of Labor hearing, and then reverses its position and accepts the bill fewer than seven (7) business days before the hearing date. This new provision in the law, which became effective January 1, 2011, is designed to discourage workers’ compensation carriers from “playing games” with an injured employee’s medical bills.
Some carriers try to avoid their obligation to pay medical bills by ignoring them. Instead of issuing denial letters, they simply do nothing. Carriers break the law when they ignore medical bills. New Hampshire law requires carriers to either accept or deny medical bills within 30 days of receiving them. Specifically, within 30 days of receiving a medical bill the carrier must either a.) pay the bill; or b.) deny the payment, with notice to the health care provider, the injured employee, and the Department of Labor. A denial letter must state a valid reason for the denial and must advise the injured employee of the right to petition for a hearing.
If your carrier ignores your medical bills, failing to pay them or properly deny them within 30 days, you or your attorney should notify the Department of Labor so that the Department may take appropriate enforcement action. Call Douglas, Leonard & Garvey or fill out our contact form if you are having problems getting your medical bills paid.