My husband was badly injured in an on the job accident (Police officer) 9 months ago in NC. The Dr. has released him (MMI) with a PPD of 16%. It has been a little over a month now and he is still having so much trouble. He can not walk up stairs or run or squat he is having trouble with swelling, pain and preforming most aspects of the job physically. He is mentally worried about getting hurt further or getting coworkers hurt. His last Dr appointment was over a month ago and we have heard nothing from WC other than a return to work statement emailed. He has a follow up Dr appointment in two months. What is WC waiting for to make a settlement offer? Do we need an attorney?
Absolutely yes and here's why...
Settlement might not be the best thing right now. First things first, your husband truly needs to get well medically and just because one doctor says so does not mean it is gospel. Your husband is entitled to a second opinion evaluation regarding his injury and you will need guidance getting to a good doctor. Your husband is also entitled to a second opinion on his rating and an attorney can help to see if that is a good idea and help find a good doctor.
When it comes to time to settle, you will need help. There is a ton of information needed to help evaluate the case and negotiate the best settlement possible...I just published a podcast on my website about this very issue.
You need an advocate to make sure your husbands rights are protected now and into the future...an experienced Comp attorney will be there to help up through the process.
Thanks and please feel free to follow up with any additional questions.
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Does he have work restrictions? That is a key fact to know. Sounds like he needs them. If he has restrictions, then forget about the PPD rating until his employability issues are resolved. He should talk to a workers' comp specialist lawyer before he makes any settlement decisions.
This answer is intended as general information and not as specific legal advice. If you want to have a free consultation with me, please contact me through AVVO.
There are many reasons the insurance company could be waiting to offer settlement and it is hard to tell based on the facts you gave. As to your second question, a North Carolina workers compensation attorney is paid on a contingency basis and therefore they get paid the same amount whether you use them for a single mediation to resolve your case or whether you use them throughout the entire process. I would recommend hiring an attorney as soon as possible and get the most bang for your buck. The practical reality is most good workers compensation attorneys will increase the settlement value of your case, therefore there is little downside to getting representation as soon as possible.
Remember, the employer and insurance company have a team of lawyers. You and your husband should have an attorney on your side as well. Typically, the sooner the better.
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I agree with the points made by the 3 other NC comp attorneys who've offered information to date. First, there is a significant question on whether settlement is his best option at this point. Second, with a 16% PPD to back from the insurance doctor & the physical problems you reference, there is a significant likelihood your husband has work restrictions. Finally, the other side of your husband's claim has a strong teach of experienced attorneys on their side. Particularly with a significant injury like that you've described, your husband would be well advised to have someone equally skilled and experienced on his side, to understand his options and to advocate for him.
Your husband needs an experienced NC workers' Compensation attorney ASAP. He is at risk of losing his job if he can no longer perform full duties as a certified law enforcement officer. If so, he may be eligible for a disability retirement (even if he can do other work). He also has an election of benefits to make between a wage loss claim or payment of the rating. Finally, he is entitled to lifetime medical benefits if he files Form 18M and may need a second medical opinion with a doctor of his choice. Good luck, George
Should your husband settle now? If not now, when should he? When he does settle, how much money is fair? Is there more that can be done for him medically? Is there more that might need to be done for him vocationally, so he's actually able to earn his pre-injury wages in a competitive labor market? There are some life-changing issues facing your husband and you. A workers compensation attorney could help you with them. You should get one immediately.
It is always wise to speak with an experienced workers compensation attorney if injured on the job. I recommend finding one whose entire practice is devoted to personal injury and workers compensation litigation. That way you know they have the experience help thoroughly help you and get you the benefits you are entitled to.
In my experience it is clearly too soon to begin thinking about settlement in your husband's case. There may be more medical treatment that can be suggested by an IME physician. Early settlements almost always are a bad idea. The body sometimes takes longer to heal. Doctors sometimes miss diagnosis that can be a lifelong struggle if left untreated. Get an attorney experienced in these cases.
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