Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Television advertising by attorneys UGH!

It may be that some advertising is useful but as of today I am turned off by many of the TV ads by attorneys. The fact is workers comp cases are not easy and there are no automatic recoveries with big dollar figures. Moreover in Social Security disability hearings at the local level the statistics suggest that many people lose! The statistics I've been given vary depending on the local Judge but one Judge issues favorable decisions less than half the time. So advertising that leaves you with the impression the lawyer is invincible or a cash king is hogwash. There are two things to address here. First, some of these ads are being run so many times on several stations that it seems like half the ads on TV are attorney ads. I admit that is only my impression but the repetition is excessive! Of course I have a DVR so I skip most of them but I am astounded at the number of lawyer ads on television. Second, this much advertising can result in a huge caseload. So unless you are careful even the best lawyer can be overwhelmed with work. There can be pressure to settle or resolve cases to feed the costs of operating and advertising such a practice. My experience has been to limit the number of cases we handle because each case we do take will almost always involve a great deal of time and energy. Anyone with a work injury or disability has physical, emotional and financial problems plus legal problems added to the mix. This means every case is unique and deserves individualized efforts to get through it with minimal problems. Often a seriously injured case takes over a year to resolve. If so...that is the way it is and should be and rushing to settle is not wise. Excessive advertising expenses and a huge caseload can complicate or even harm this process. Today my main issue with the ads is that they are flooding the airwaves and are unrealistic. So I say UGH! Anything that sounds too good to be true is often not good and not true. By the way some TV ads are professionally done and helpful. I just dislike ads that seem over the line.

Last Friday's Lunch Meeting

Once a month or every so often a few local attorneys meet for lunch and to discuss workers comp and Social Security disability concerns. It is informal but it is useful for all of us to be able to "talk shop" in an area that is as complex as workers compensation and disability. It's also enjoyable and most importantly it helps us all to talk things out. Last Friday a doctor showed up and we had a discussion on pain medicine and therapies. We also discussed other topics such as the Waddell signs. Dr. Waddell (a noted orthopedic surgeon in Great Britain) several years ago presented that certain non-physical matters might affect a person. This seems to have been misinterpreted so that some providers suggest that exaggeration or faking is present if several of the Waddell's signs are present. The fact is Dr. Waddell disavowed that interpretation. In any event we discussed this and I brought with me the latest copy of Dr. Waddell's more recent book. It was a most enjoyable and educational lunch and thanks to the doctor for his attendance!

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Update on the Holnam case noted earlier

As I mentioned earlier in Holnam the claimant was unable to seek coverage for an alleged occupational disease based on the legal theory called claim preclusion. The case is a bit complicated but essentially having lost on a traumatic claim the effort was made to allege the condition was caused by occupational activities. The Court said you cannot come back and do this at another hearing. I believe this is not sound reasoning and by way of an update I understand this case is being sent to the Colorado Supreme Court. Of course it is up to the court as to whether it will rule on it but I remain hopeful. I should note further that appeals take a lot of time. It is sad but speedy outcomes are not part of workers compensation when there are appeals. In my view this works to the advantage of the insurers since they can wait it out as compared to claimants.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Vocational Rehabilitation

If you've been injured on the job or even if you simply have health problems which restrict work activities and you're worried about what work or job you can now do check out the Colorado Division of Vocational Rehabilitation. It is unlikely you will receive any vocational rehab through a workers comp insurer. Workers comp used to have a more active vocational rehab effort but that has changed so seldom will you be offered voc rehab by the insurance carrier. My experience has been that they simply pay you a settlement or by Final Admission and you are then on your own. This can be especially difficult when you feel you've lost your trade or occupation. If you are permanently and totally disabled from returning to any work then you may also seek Social Security disability benefits or other disability benefits if available. Moreover any resolution of your workers comp case can mean a substantial recovery if it is properly handled by your attorney. But if you simply cannot continue in your line of work yet believe you can work then consider contacting the Colorado Division linked here:

Friday, January 05, 2007

Can You Do It Yourself?

Workers comp is so complicated that it has its own rules, its own separate caselaw and statutes, medical guidelines, and even comes under two Colorado agencies (the Division of Workers Compensation and the Office of Administative Courts). Deadlines and forms are also quite complicated and even those with experience must stay on top of them in every claim they handle. Some claimants believe they can try to handle their own claim. Others feel they will be treated fairly especially if they are receiving some benefits. While there are cases where you can receive decent medical care and benefits it is rare that any claim will go smoothly all the way to the end. Certainly the Division has a customer service section which does provide some basic help and it is possible to handle your claim pro se (without an attorney). I suspect many claimants want to avoid using an attorney and think they can come out ahead by saving on the legal fees. All I can say is this....if you can retain an experienced workers comp attorney then do so as he or she will usually maximize your benefits. Too many times the medical care is incomplete. Too many times the amounts due you are very low and you are told it is all you are entitled to receive. Many times an attorney can obtain substantially more benefits for you and far more then the legal contingency fee which is 20% in Colorado. So try to obtain a lawyer to help you with your claim. Do it yourself only as a last resort when a lawyer cannot be found to take your claim. Moreover here is one more tip: whenever possible obtain an attorney early on in your case. The sooner the better given the contingency fee is the same anyway.