Is this a lawsuit?

No.  This is a request for administrative benefits, which is sometimes supervised by a Judge.  As such, it is not a “lawsuit” in superior court.

Can I get 1 million dollars?

Probably not - unless you are paralyzed completely, your whole body, can’t move your head, & etc.  Most injuries are in the 15% - 45% range.  For example, a 25% case is worth $23,172.50.  A 50% case, on the other hand, is worth $62,387.50.  Significant money, but a long way from a million dollars.

Will I get in trouble if I file a claim?

The answer to this question is... maybe.  Some employers are willing to violate the law to take “revenge”, or “retribution” against injured workers who file a legitimate claim.  Fortunately, the state of California has issued special laws to punish employers who take ANY negative employment action against an injured worker, because they filed a claim.  This is called a Labor Code §132 (a) claim.  It can bring in a LOT more money!

Do I have to go in front of a jury?

No.  Never.  All workers’ compensation trials in California are conducted before an Administrative Law Judge.  Only.  There is never a jury trial in workers’ comp.

Can I file my own claim?

Yes you can.  However, you need to know that a good attorney will guarantee that you will receive maximum compensation, along with ALL appropriate medical care, and all benefits according to the Labor Code.  In addition, experienced attorneys know where all the “pitfalls” and hidden dangers are.  So, while you can file your own claim, remember the words of Mark Twain, who said “the man who represents himself in court, has a fool for a client”.

Can I pick my own doctor?

Sometimes, you can.  However, if your employer/insurer has a “Medical Provider Network” (MPN) then, you will be forced to select from a panel of doctors.  If there is no MPN, then you get to choose the treating physician yourself.

Why was my claim denied?

It is common for insurance companies to deny a workers’ comp. claim initially, only to agree to accept the case after discovery has progressed.  In addition, many insurance companies have an almost “blanket denial” of any claim filed against them.  If you have an legitimate case, a good attorney can defeat such a denial.

How long is this going to take?

That’s like asking, “how long does it take to build a house?”  In other words, it depends on the house!  Each case is different.  Some are resolved fairly quickly, while others require a lot of treatment, a lot of court appearances, a lot of discovery, & etc.  So, a fair answer would be “it depends...”

What if I can't go back to work?

In that case, the law provides that you get paid “temporary disability” (TD) payments, calculated to award you 66% of your regular weekly wage, until you “get better”.  There is a 104 week maximum to TD payments.

Why is temporary disability 2/3 of my pay check?

Think about this, for a moment... if injured workers were paid 100% of their paychecks, during their temporary disability - no one would get better!  But, by only getting 66% of their regular wage, injured workers are encouraged to get better and go back to work.

Is this going to cost me anything “out of pocket”?

No. Nada. Zip. Nothing. Seriously, California workers’ compensation is set up so that, generally speaking, the injured worker does not pay “out of pocket expenses” -  and if they do, they are reimbursed for “self procured” medical treatment, mileage, & etc.  You do not pay your attorney ANYTHING.  All attorneys fees are on a “contingency” basis.  That means, in workers’ compensation cases, your attorney gets 15% of your award.  In other words, he only gets paid if you win your case.

How much does my attorney get paid, and how does he get the money?

Please see the answer immediately above.  If your attorney is asking you for money, you might need a new attorney...!

Do I need to worry about private investigators and what are my responsibilities?

The answer to this question is... “maybe”.  If you have a big case, or if you are acting irresponsibly, then the insurance company may assign a private investigator to your case.  Your responsibility is to not do anything “stupid”.  That means, if you have a back injury, then you cannot chop firewood, mow the lawn, stack bricks or do anything like that - you would be inviting trouble.

What contributions can I make to help win my case? (Appearance, timeliness, cooperation)

Just behave in a responsible manner.  Take a shower, comb your hair, wear clean clothes to a deposition or court appearance - you know, common sense!  Also, be on time.  Also, cooperate with your attorney.  Return phone calls.  Provide documents, when requested, & etc.

Will I be reimbursed for mileage to cover travel expenses, to and from medical treatments, depositions, & etc.?

Yes.  You will be given a “log” to fill out that will help you keep track of your mileage and any incidental expenses you may incur.

What if my employer does not have workers’ compensation insurance?

Actually, in California, it is a crime for an employer to fail to provide workers’ compensation insurance to cover their employees.  This law office can still help you, if that is your problem.  Don’t give up on your claim.