by Bernard D. Nomberg, Partner, The Nomberg Law Firm
Don’t hate the player, hate the game. Former Florida Gator and NFL player, Tim Tebow, has stolen hearts as a football player for years now. Tebow recently decided to leave football and the SEC Network to play baseball. As he signs with the New York Mets, we are reminded that we don’t hate Tebow, we just hate the game he has chosen. (Not really, but please bear with us on this. We do like baseball.)
The same can be said for workers’ compensation. Don’t hate your attorney, hate the system. If it feels like your workers’ compensation claim is taking longer than you hoped, chances are you are right. These claims can take a long time. Depending on the issues, and whether your claim is denied, can determine the length of time. That is not your attorney’s fault though. More than likely, your attorney is doing everything they can to get your claim to get it resolved or before a judge. Unfortunately, the system by which the case moves is time-consuming and tedious.
After a workplace injury has occurred and you sign a fee agreement with our Firm, we are then able to pursue the claim with the insurance adjuster or file a lawsuit with the Circuit Court, or both. Once the Complaint is filed, your employer has thirty days to file an Answer to the Complaint.
A hearing is usually set on the matter. During the interim, we request discovery (documents that are related to your claim) from the opposing counsel. Opposing counsel has thirty days to respond to the discovery request and send us any documents related to the claim.
Your employer also has a right to conduct a deposition which involves a question and answer session under oath. Since attorneys have fairly busy schedules, the deposition could be when your first hearing is scheduled which means the hearing will be reset or continued. Typically after a deposition, your employer may request medical records from any doctors you may have seen about your injury. They can also request records from your employer about any benefits you have received. These records take time to receive, usually thirty days at least.
Another factor in this is the timing of when the injured worker reached maximum medical improvement. That is a term used in the workers’ compensation claims for when the authorized treating physician is of the professional opinion that the patient has reached the end of the healing process. At this time, the doctor will usually assign a permanent impairment rating and determine if they are to return to work with restrictions. These things are needed to help shape the value to the claim.
But even after maximum medical improvement is reached, many things have to be done to get the case ready for trial, including doctor depositions, vocational evaluations and depositions of vocational experts. These things add more time to the process.
While the process is time consuming and often frustrating, there is a light at the end of the tunnel. When your claim is finally heard, you have a chance of receiving the benefits you need. In some cases, the claim may be resolved before getting to a judge or without going through all of the steps in which case your claim can move a lot faster.
At the Nomberg Law Firm, we work diligently to move your case along as quickly as possible. We work with our clients to make sure they are informed in each step of the process. If you have been injured in the workplace and have a workers’ compensation claim you need resolved, contact us and we will be glad to help you.
Bernard D. Nomberg has practiced law in Alabama for more than 20 years. Bernard has earned an AV rating from Martindale-Hubbell’s peer-review rating. He has been selected a Super Lawyer by Super Lawyers Magazine as well as a Top Rated Attorney by B-Metro Magazine.
Photos courtesy of The Atlantic.