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Can I really be only 50% disabled?
#1
Hi,
I'm a 60 year old New York union construction worker. I was injured on the construction site 5 months ago. I've had 3 MRI's
and 2 EMG's. Doctors want to do surgery on my back, both knees,
elbow and hand. I saw and IME and this is his conclusion in reference to Work Ability;

"Claimant has a marked temporary disability. He is unable to lift at all. He cannot push or pull over 10 pounds. He cannot climb and bend. He should not operate a motor vehicle or mechanical equipment."

This conclusion was prior to the results of an EMG which the doctor will now be requesting surgery for the elbow and hand.
I have a hearing Friday of the coming week, the IC has requested a reduction and states I'm only 50% disabled.

The thing is I do have a lawyer, he was highly recommended by many streamfitters. When I called him and told him of the hearing he said, "I don't know what the outcome will be." Does this sound like a competent response. I need 5 surgeries, what dam part of my body is 50% disabled, with all objective finds to medical testings and even the IME work ability stated report. Is this the kind of lawyer I want handling probably my SSI and personal injury case. Should I fire this lawyer or wait til after the hearing? This is just one of a few issues I've had to deal with this lawyer, sure he's a great trial lawyer and I know lawyers fees from comp are minimal. I feel if he's not confident with all this medical evidence with a simple reduction hearing, how can I trust him filling SSI papers and filing a third party case. Any thoughts, am I over reacting or is it time to find another lawyer? Any good lawyer would have laughed at this request for reduction and would have told me don't worry he'll handle this! If this gets ugly at the hearing do I have a right to speak and address the court? Thanks
 
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#2
(05-25-2014, 06:31 PM)Scaffoldrider Wrote: Hi,
I'm a 60 year old New York union construction worker. I was injured on the construction site 5 months ago. I've had 3 MRI's
and 2 EMG's. Doctors want to do surgery on my back, both knees,
elbow and hand. I saw and IME and this is his conclusion in reference to Work Ability;

"Claimant has a marked temporary disability. He is unable to lift at all. He cannot push or pull over 10 pounds. He cannot climb and bend. He should not operate a motor vehicle or mechanical equipment."

This conclusion was prior to the results of an EMG which the doctor will now be requesting surgery for the elbow and hand.
I have a hearing Friday of the coming week, the IC has requested a reduction and states I'm only 50% disabled.

The thing is I do have a lawyer, he was highly recommended by many streamfitters. When I called him and told him of the hearing he said, "I don't know what the outcome will be." Does this sound like a competent response. I need 5 surgeries, what dam part of my body is 50% disabled, with all objective finds to medical testings and even the IME work ability stated report. Is this the kind of lawyer I want handling probably my SSI and personal injury case. Should I fire this lawyer or wait til after the hearing? This is just one of a few issues I've had to deal with this lawyer, sure he's a great trial lawyer and I know lawyers fees from comp are minimal. I feel if he's not confident with all this medical evidence with a simple reduction hearing, how can I trust him filling SSI papers and filing a third party case. Any thoughts, am I over reacting or is it time to find another lawyer? Any good lawyer would have laughed at this request for reduction and would have told me don't worry he'll handle this! If this gets ugly at the hearing do I have a right to speak and address the court? Thanks

- It is normal for the IC to try and attempt to lower ratings in my state. I am not familiar with your states laws specifically.

- Your attorney's response is an honest one. There is no way for any attorney to know the outcome of any hearing. That is a competent response, and more importantly an honest response (IMO). You wrote he is a good trial lawyer, and that is important.

- You stated that you are deemed temporarily disabled. Things can change after surgeries. A 50% rating has nothing to do with stating you are 50% disabled. It is early in your claim without having the surgeries yet to really know what your final rating would be.(JMHO)

-If you want to consult with other attorney's you can. I do not recommend firing this attorney until you hire another one first. Insurance companies always try to defend themselves by attempting to lower ratings, deny benefits etc.

-In regards to your question if he is qualified to file for SSDI and take care of your 3rd party claim...I have no idea. Some attorney's specialize in workers compensation, and some can to other things like SSDI and 3rd party claims. Review his web-site and qualifications on if these are things he does regularly. Google his name and look for reviews from past clients etc is another avenue to check an attorney.

I would discuss with your attorney if you are allowed to speak at the hearing, and also if he recommends you do. You do not want to show lack of respect for your attorney in front of the judge. I understand your frustrations. Talk to your attorney about them.

Good luck to you.



I am not an attorney.Anything I write should not be considered legal advice.I am writing from my own personal experiences,which is not from any sort of legal background. You should consult with an attorney over legal issues. In California, if you cannot get an attorney you can consult with an I&A officer.
 
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#3
you need a lawyer that has your confidence and trust.
you should talk to few other attys before deciding to switch.
there are few places to try
http://www.avvo.com/free-legal-advice/Wo...c=new+york
https://www.wilg.org/index.cfm?pg=publicdirectory

you can take the stand and give testimony to questions from both your atty and that of the opposing counsel.
otherwise you can request permission to make a statement. whether it will be granted or not depends on the context.
while comp court is somewhat informal it is not a criminal trial and not a place to criticize the process or vent or give your opinion; it is limited to evidence on the matter in dispute.
Reminder :
........Each state has their own comp system; POST YOUR STATE to get accurate information. Use the search feature to find information from similar questions.
THANKS FOR POSTING.
 
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#4
Hi,

I justed wanted to say thank you for the two professional responses I received. I would never disrespect an attorney in any manner, never mind in front of the court. I just felt that based on
my the (3) MRI's and (2) EMG's with all the objective finding of my doctors and pain management specailist, plus even the IME's own conclusions, that for my lawyer to say he doesn't know what the outcome of the reduction hearing would be was a negative response in light of the facts. I could easily understand the lawyer's statement if I had negative test results, then his response would naturally be an honest one. I'm now at the point where (5) operations are recommended, total knee replacement on both knees, surgery for the two herniated disc and nerve (S1) compression, and carpal and cobital Syndrome. Maybe I'm not seeing the overall picture, but what job could I possibly hold if
the insurance company is bringing this to a hearing for a 50% reduction. I'm well aware of the insurance company's only concern is the "bottom line" of their financial statement, but what argument could they possibly present to the judge to warrant this reduction enlight of all this medcial evidence.

In reference to wanting to address the court and have it recorded for the record was that the insurance company has not recognized the original date of the disablity. I was injured on
12/11/2013 and the hospital emergency records clearly indicate my arm was but in a sling and advise to keep it on for a week or two, plus the emergency lease form signed by a doctor states (7) days bed rest, the insurance has found the date of disablity to be six days later on 12/17/2013 when I was first seen by my own doctor. I raised this issue with my lawyer and again I received a negative response and no follow up challenging that IC determination.

This negative pattern continued when I was denied approval for my pain management description by the IC. The medication is a Class 2 nacotic which I have been on for almost 5 months. When I called the lawyer and told him that this is a form of harrassment and in direct violation of the NYS Worker's Compensation Medical Treatment Guildlines in section titled Nacotics, it was as if I was
talking out my rear end to him. The section clearly states that there are severe health risk and no medication of this type should ever be stopped or denied suddenly. I even came him cases where this has happpened and the courts have held the IC liable, based of the effects of suddenly withdrawal and effects from it.

I just didn't have a bad day and take what I thought was a negative statement from my lawyer and say, "I'm firing this guy."
Absolutely not, it has been a pattern over time. I will listen to the recommendation here and see how the hearing goes in a 3 days. I just hope this pattern of negativity doesn't continue. I didn't even get a call back from my lawyer checking to see if I had finally got my medication. I did get it 3 days later, but it I was an lawyer, I would have gotten back to my client and told them the reason for the denial and that I resolved the issue and check if the were alright and did the get their medication. I could have ended up in an emergency room with servere withdrawal effects, just because
some pencil pusher claims adjuster say today I'll deny approval of his medication. They are not doctors with medical degrees and have a duty to follow all the Medical Treatment Guildlines. These are the reasons I don't have confidence in my lawyer. A lawyer should be a little more interested in his clients and not just the $150 the judge gives them for a hearing! Thanks again!
 
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#5
Sounds like you have a good handle on the information you need and have been given some good advise. I would only add remember to them you are just a number and that is how much is this going to cost them. Their main plan now is to reduce the amount you cost them and they will try anything and everything to do this. Lawyer tend to understand this and not get as worked up as we would like and this is how you want them to be. And WC wants you to be all worked up and not thinking straight. When you are not they hope this will get you to say things that are wrong but then will hurt your case. Or get you to sound like a crazy person so the hearing officer will not believe anything you say. Arm yourself with as much information as you can so you understand as much as you do and follow your lawyer because he is there to help you get things right. There are always two sides to everything just like any case a lawyer takes and their lawyer will argue you don't need everything they say. In the end if everything goes as it should the medical evidence tell them hearing office what needs to be done.
We will wish you well in your hearing and say a prayer. As you can tell if you have read very many posts here you are not alone
 
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#6
I completely understand your situation and frustration.

What I have learned by my own work comp claim and helping others is these attorneys are very busy.

I have had similar situations as yourself with my medications not being re-filled, and a few days later they were filled. I assume my attorney helped get them filled. Not once did he call to check on me or see if I received my medications.In my opinion this is standard business practice. It would be nice for a attorney to call and do that, but I have learned it is not their job to do so. My expectations were most likely unrealistic. I have tried to learn to separate legal things my attorney is supposed to do and medical things my doctor is supposed to do. Checking on me is my doctors job. My attorney is definitely not what they call a "hand holder" and is there for legal purposes only. Don't get me wrong, I have had feelings such as yours like why didn't he call to see if I received my medications. I assume he contacted the IC and took care of the refill. He did his job.

I have also never met an attorney who has stated ever, they will win in court. I was told to stay away from lawyers who state that... as you never know what will happen.And stay away from an attorney who state they have never lost in court. I think he was giving you an ethical response, instead of what you wanted to hear.

With that being said, it appears there are several issues you have with your attorney, and as 1171 wrote you need to have confidence in your attorney. I only suggest one thing, do not fire him until you have hired a new one first. You can consult with attorney's any time.

In my opinion, some of the attorney's who are more harsh, like how you describe your attorney, are 100 times more harsh on the defense attorney. Believe it or not a-hole attorney's are often the best one's to have on your side. I want a bull dog in court, and not a "nice guy". This is just my own observation.

It sounds like your injuries are horrific, and you must be dealing with a lot. Pain makes me more sensitive to situations such as dealing with insurance companies delaying medications that can cause bodily harm.

I wish you the best with your hearing, and hope things either go better with your current attorney, or you find one that will meet your expectations better. Having a meeting to discuss these issues with your attorney may also help.

Take care.
I am not an attorney.Anything I write should not be considered legal advice.I am writing from my own personal experiences,which is not from any sort of legal background. You should consult with an attorney over legal issues. In California, if you cannot get an attorney you can consult with an I&A officer.
 
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#7
Hi There,

I just wanted to post a follow up of yesterday's hearing
and maybe pass on a little information that might help others.

The hearing turned out better then I expected, even though
it appeared to be a nightmare from the beginning. I got there
almost two hours early, naturally it was a mad house wtih
lawyers outnumbering the clients. The hearing took place in
Harlem on 125th Street. My hearing was at 2:30 and being there
so early I overheard many conversations that were openly
discussed between lawyers and clients. It seemed almost every
lawyer was there fighting some kind of denial by the insurance
companies. I waited patiently for my lawyer thinking for sure he
wasn't coming. It was 2:30 and still no lawyer, I was totally
pissed, finally my phone rings and he's still in his office. He says
he's running late, but he's coming. It appeared every other
lawyer was there early to go over the hearing prior to going into
the hearing room and my lawyer was still sitting in his office in
Long Island City. At this point, I don't give a dam and ready to
go in and tell the judge I just fired my lawyer and want and
adjournment. It's 3:00 and still no lawyer and a nice young black
women comes out calling my name. She says where's your lawyer
and that she's been trying to reach him, I explain the situation
and apologize. I call the lawyer and you can't imagine I'm angry
as hell. He says he's almost there. It's now 3:35 on a Friday
afternoon and the place in empty and I'm pacing the floors.
The phone rings, he's in the building! He walks in like he own the
joint and not a worry in the world. I naturally go off on him,
telling him this is totally unprofessional and giving him a piece
of my mind. Doesn't faze him in the least, he's dressed to the
10's, young and has that air of confidence and says don't worry.
We walk in the hearing room and guess who that nice black
woman is, she's not the clerk but the DAM JUDGE! I figure I'm
screwed, she has to be pissed waiting for this knucklehead.
You know that old saying, "it's not what you know, but who you
KNOW", well I got a first hand look at what it really means.

My lawyer starts raising all the issued I asked him to and the
judge agreed with evverything without even listening to the
IC lawyer. Then we start with the reduction of rate and denials
of injuries. Lucky I had all the emergency room records and I
handed it to my lawyer and he gave it to the judge and the
judge handed it to the IC lawyer. If I wasn't so mad, it would
have been comical. All the time sitting waiting all I heard was
denials and reductions and "I'm sorry", I couldn't believe what
happened in that hearing room. We walked out of the hearing
room and looked him right in his big smiling face and said,
"Your REHIRED!" He laughed and to be honest so did I.
It has nothing to do with what you know, but everything to do
with who you know." The guy is good and knows his excrement and
everything worked out. Funny today I opened the mailbox to
find the claims adjuster denied two surgeries and it appears
I'll be going to another hearing, but this time I don't care if
my knucklehead lawyer gets there 10 hours late, what the hell
can one say if he gets the job done. He's totally unprofessional
even in his $2,000 suit and tie and I may curse the hell out of
him but one thing I'll never do, is fire the guy! The best was
most lawyer got $150 for legal fees for the hearing and my
guy had the balls to ask for $300 and as the IC lawyer started
to open his mouth all I heard the judge say was "DONE."
Thanks for the replies and listening to my rant! Scaffoldrider
 
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#8
hopefully what happens in court will make a difference.
no judge or lawyer cuts a check or pays a bill; it's a long ways from the courtroom to the adjusters desk.
the judges and lawyers see each other a 1000 times and each knows what needs to happen and how to do it.
first timers have no experience with which to judge the situation.
workers comp is much more informal then civil.
your lawyer kept the defense atty waiting and knew he could still eat his lunch. probably sent a message that was stronger then anything else he could have done.
Reminder :
........Each state has their own comp system; POST YOUR STATE to get accurate information. Use the search feature to find information from similar questions.
THANKS FOR POSTING.
 
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#9
Glad the hearing went well for you and hope they will follow thru and get things done but you never know. Anything they don't like they will appeal and you will have to wait in that. Most of it seems does seem like a big joke. As 1171 said they all know each other and play their own games sometimes. I can't imagine what it is like to sit there all day and listen to all the different claims, seems like you would go crazy.
I had to go to court one time for a bad debt. I sat in the back of the court room for the entire session because their lawyer never did show up. Having to hear everything they had to drove me crazy and I was only there a couple of hours.
 
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#10
I'm glad to hear your heating went well.
 
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