Did you get hurt at work and are seeking legal assistance for workers’ comp? Contact our Buffalo workers’ comp lawyer to get started today!
Getting injured at work is stressful and can interfere with your ability to do your job. The loss of income that results can be financially devastating to both an employee and their family.
If you’re reading this, you may have been injured while at work. You might be in pain. Your injuries may require you to miss enough work to damage your family finances. You’re probably stressed and wondering who to turn to for help with a workers’ compensation claim.
We are here to help. Our firm offers free legal consultations. Call our Buffalo workers’ comp lawyer today.
You don’t need money up-front to get answers to your workers’ comp claim questions. Give us a call as soon as you can and schedule a free legal consultation.
The information below will help you understand what’s involved in your workers’ comp claim. Please read to the end to learn as much as possible. Then give us a call so we can talk about your specific claim.
Buffalo Workers’ Comp Client Story
We are sharing the following client story in hopes of answering questions you may have about your workers’ comp claim. While we’ve changed the names and details to preserve the privacy of our client, the informational value of the story remains. When you’ve finished, please give us a call to schedule your free legal consultation. We’d like to answer the questions you have about your specific claim.
On a warm Wednesday morning in May, Rita Davis got a call in the cool basement office of the Buffalo accounting firm where she worked. It was her friend Cindy, who was assistant to the company’s chief financial officer. Cindy’s boss was on the phone with a big overseas client and wanted a printout of the client’s tax return right away.
“Can you run the papers up?” Cindy asked, breathlessly, before pausing to whisper, “He’s in ‘rare form’ today, been yelling since he came through the door.”
Rita knew the guy was prone to temper tantrums, and there were many days she was happy to work downstairs. It was always cool in the summer, and far enough away from the CFO’s office that he rarely tapped them during his frequent paperwork “emergencies.”
“Don’t worry, Cind, I’ve got your back,” Rita said. “Oh, and hey, do you happen to have any copy paper I can grab when I come up? Ours hasn’t arrived yet. I’ll square it up with you when the delivery guy rolls in.”
Four-and-a-half minutes later, Rita was up the stairs, through the tiled lobby atrium, and in front of Cindy’s desk with the printouts.
Cindy sighed with relief, smiling her thanks as she passed Rita a box containing four reams of copy paper. Rita thanked her friend as she balanced the box on her hip. It wasn’t terribly heavy, so she wouldn’t need to take the freight elevator back downstairs. That thing was so old and loud, Rita always half-expected it to get stuck between floors.
“Thanks, again, Rita,” said Cindy. “Lunch in ’twenty’?”
“You got it, Cind; just come get me when you’re ready,” Rita said over her shoulder as she stepped back into the vast tiled space with her box.
Rita headed past a few people eating bag lunches on the benches in the atrium. It was a serene space, soaring two stories to an elaborate stained-glass skylight. She loved that light.
The birds seemed to enjoy the atrium, too; she heard the trilling of a sparrow as she approached the stairs. She looked up, trying to locate it, but failed. As she reached the tiled stairway, Rita reached for the handrail, not seeing the puddle at the top of the landing. Her foot hit the water before she could grab the railing and she took flight.
Her feet came out from under her, and she dropped four feet, hitting her back against the tile steps at the same instant her head ricocheted off intricate tile border that ran the length of the wall along the stairwell.
Rita was lifted off the stairs on a backboard and taken to the hospital. She had a concussion and a herniated disc and was in a lot of pain.
She was discharged from the hospital six hours later, with a treatment plan and information on what to watch for regarding her concussion.
Her treatment plan began with a conservative approach, including physical therapy and gentle stretching for her back. The doctor prescribed ice and heat therapy in addition to non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs for the pain. Rita was told that if she didn’t show signs of improvement with a reasonable period, her doctor would consider epidural injections and the possibility of surgery.
Rita downloaded and completed her company’s accident report the next afternoon, double-checking it for accuracy before sending it back via email. She worked from home for the rest of the week, planning to begin filing the actual compensation claim when she returned to the office Monday morning.
When Monday morning came, however, Rita found her back was much worse. She couldn’t get out of bed without her husband Sam pulling her up by her hands as she held them straight out away from her body. Even then, she could barely move without shooting pain that took her breath away. Once upright, she had to walk like a robot with short, mechanical steps, holding her torso completely upright and still. She was as close to helpless as she ever hoped to be.
Without being able to sit up at all, Rita spent the first half of the week on her back in bed. Every time she tried to move without assistance, the pain stopped her. There was no realistic way to get work done, so she tried to sleep as much as possible.
Rita video-conferenced with her doctor late Wednesday morning and agreed to go in for an epidural injection on Thursday afternoon. Her doctor said when she arrived, they’d look further into the possibility of surgery.
The workers’ compensation insurance carrier beeped in while Rita was on the video call. She heard the beep but didn’t recognize the number. As she ended the conference with her doctor, insurance called again and tried to get Rita to agree to a recorded statement about the fall. Overwhelmed and in pain, she put them off until later in the week when she could at least, she hoped, sit up.
Fifteen minutes later, Rita got a call from a formidable woman claiming to be a “company nursing advocate.” She all but accused Rita of trying to “game the system” by going outside of “company medical personnel” for examination and treatment, while refusing to give the insurance company her statement. The woman went so far as to tell Rita that for all she knew, Rita may be “lying on a beach somewhere.”
“You know,” Rita shot back, angry now, “If you all were camped out in my bushes like everyone claims, you’d know I haven’t been able to get out of bed for days.” This was outrageous.
Ignoring the comment, the woman directed her to arrive at a clinic across town on Friday morning, where she would personally accompany Rita in an exam with company medical personnel.
Rita was speechless. What happened to her right to medical privacy? Before Rita could even refuse, the woman curtly ended the call with, “You have a nice day,” before hanging up.
Sam came home at lunch to check on Rita and found his wife in tears. Between her pain, the immobility, and the dinosaur who’d bullied her, she was done. He sat on the bed and put his arm around her.
“Hey, I’m going to call this law firm,” Sam said. “Rick told me they specialize in workers’ comp law.” He called the law office of Cole, Sorrentino, Hurley, Hewner and Gambino P.C., and Attorney Jerry A. Gambino met the couple the next morning in their Buffalo home.
Rita had managed to relocate to the recliner in the den with her laptop; relieved to be able to return to a position that would allow her to do a little remote work. She told Gambino about the accident and where she was in the process of filing her worker’s comp case.
“So, you’ve reported the incident to your employer, seen a doctor, and told that doctor you fell at work?” Gambino asked.
“Yes. I made sure I told the doctor myself in case something got lost in translation between the ambulance and registration. I filed the accident report with my employer the next day via email.
I was going to figure out how to file the claim itself this past Monday, only I couldn’t get out of bed.
Should I sign a Medical Release if my company asks me to?
“And let me guess, the company asked you to sign a medical release?” Asked Gambino.
“Yes. The rude woman touched on that in our ‘conversation,’ if you could call it that. She said it was emailed out last Thursday and that I needed to sign and return it. But to be honest, she was so awful, I wanted to speak with you before doing any more paperwork,” Rita answered.
“That’s good. You can just ignore that email for the time being. Don’t send them any paperwork. If you choose to move forward with us, we’ll take care of all communications with the company’s workers’ comp insurance carrier for you,” said Gambino.
“That’s a relief,” said Rita. “That woman was a ‘battle axe!’”
Will a pre-existing condition cause my claim to be denied?
Sam took his wife’s hand and turned to the attorney. “These people are obviously trying to throw obstacles in the way of a possible claim. Will the fact that Rita has utilized a chiropractor in the past interfere with receiving compensation for a back injury?”
“No,” Attorney Gambino answered. “If Rita’s injury happens to be where she had difficulty before, the injury that occurred at work is still covered. Even if the pre-existing condition was unrelated to her work, or, if a previous condition was related to work but she didn’t file a workers’ comp claim for it.”
Will workers comp reimburse me for travel to the doctor?
“Gas prices are ‘through the roof’ right now. Can I get any reimbursement for travel to my physical therapy appointments?” Rita asked.
“Yes. Whether you get there in your own vehicle, need to pay for a friends’ gas, or use another form of transport such as a bus, train, or taxi, the Workers’ Compensation Board in the State of New York has an allotment for mileage reimbursement.
When will I start receiving compensation benefits?
“So, when does workers comp kick in?” asked Rita.
“Once you miss 14 days or more of work, your benefits begin, going back to the first day you were unable to work,” Attorney Gambino explained, adding, “That said, expect the insurance company to drag its feet on the first payment, citing that the case is “under investigation,” Gambino cautioned.
“Of course, it’s under investigation,” Rita said. “After all, I am lying on a beach somewhere.”
“The good news,” said the attorney, “ is that’s an area we can really help with. Our firm is experienced with workers comp claims, and we know all the insurance company tricks and maneuvers. Every dodge they make to delay paying you will be met by us. We’ll be there to hold them accountable. Our ability to expedite your benefits is one of the biggest reasons to hire a Buffalo workers’ comp lawyer. We’ll protect your right to compensation and fight to get it delivered as quickly as possible.”
Rita and Sam were satisfied with the answers they received in their free legal consultation. They retained Cole, Sorrentino, Hurley, Hewner and Gambino P.C., and their claim was processed efficiently. They received all the compensation Rita was due, all the way through her recovery after her back operation.
Common Workers’ Comp Claim Mistakes
There are several common mistakes people make in their workers’ comp claims that can put their compensation at risk. Please read through the errors below to avoid making the same mistakes in your own claim.
Not Informing Your Employer of Your Injury
Employees who are injured on the job may not realize there is a reporting deadline, in addition to the deadline for filing a compensation claim. In the state of New York, the amount of time you have to file a claim for workers compensation varies, depending upon the type of injury, but missing the shorter reporting deadline will put your claim in jeopardy.
It’s important to get the paperwork for your claim established with your employer as soon as possible to eliminate delays in receiving compensation.
Assuming You Don’t Qualify for Workers’ Comp
Many people make the mistake of assuming their situation doesn’t qualify for compensation. Under the law of the State of New York, however, no matter what caused their injury, it’s almost certain that an employee injured in the course of their job is entitled to get workers’ comp.
Filing for a claim is more difficult than qualifying for one, however. The application process is complex, and the insurance company is likely to look for any reason possible to deny the claim to save money. This makes it important to have a Buffalo workers’ comp lawyer working on your behalf.
A very broad scope of injury types falls under workers’ comp claims. These include, but are not limited to:
- Mental Health Issues
- Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
- Neck injuries
- Tendon and Nerve Injuries
- Head Injuries
- Knee Injuries
- Strained Muscles
- Broken Bones
- Eye Injuries
- Heart Attack
- Hearing Loss
- MRSA Infections
- Tendon injuries
- Repetitive Trauma Injuries
- Nerve Injuries
If you’ve suffered an injury that you don’t see here, or you’re not sure whether your injury qualifies for workers’ comp, contact our Buffalo workers’ comp lawyer. We’d like to help with your claim.
Not Getting a Medical Exam After the Accident
If you’ve been hurt while at work, it’s crucial to get checked by a doctor. Doing so protects your health and your workers’ comp claim.
When you’re injured, you’ve got to put your health first. If you go by how you feel, you may skip critical medical care because you can’t tell how badly you’ve been injured.
During traumatic experiences, the human body tries to protect itself by flooding itself with adrenaline and cortisol. These stress hormones provide a surge of energy and strength. They also make it difficult to register pain properly. While this “fight or flight” mechanism helped our ancestors escape danger twelve-thousand years ago, today it interferes with knowing when we need help.
Just because you don’t feel a great deal of pain doesn’t mean you aren’t in need of medical care. Get to a doctor for an exam. This is an important component of your workers’ comp claim, and the quicker you get examined, the stronger your claim will be.
In addition, make sure you make the doctor aware that your injuries were caused by an accident at work. This prompt the doctor to file the necessary report with your company’s workers’ compensation insurance carrier as well as the workers’ compensation board to get your claim moving forward.
Not Adhering to Your Doctor’s Treatment Plan
It’s important to know that the Workers’ Compensation Board is going to rely on the report the doctor submits about your injuries, as well as the information gathered thereafter in follow-up appointments and therapy sessions. If you are inconsistent attending physical therapy appointments, fail to take medications, or miss follow up appointments, the board may not have adequate information to process the claim in your favor.
Do your part to support your workers’ comp claim by being diligent about your treatment plan.
Don’t Agree to Give the Insurance Company a Recorded Statement
As with any other type of personal injury claim, you can expect the insurance company responsible to pay for injury claims to call you and ask you for a recorded statement.
You might think this is routine and required to get your claim processed. While it is indeed “standard practice” for the insurance company to attempt to record your statement, you have the right to decline this conversation without your lawyer present.
It helps to know the insurance company’s goal is not to help you, but to obtain information they can use to devalue your claim.
Remember, the more they can get you to say, the more material they have to try and imply the accident was your fault and not the company’s responsibility.
The best thing to do when the insurance company requests a statement is refer them to your Buffalo workers’ comp lawyer.
Thinking You Don’t Need a Workers’ Comp Lawyer
People often assume they don’t need to hire a workers’ comp lawyer when they are injured at work, because they believe their employer will take care of all the paperwork.
While it may be true that your claim is going to be processed, these claims can be complicated, and while the employer will be involved in the claim, they will not be functioning as your advocate.
This is also true of your employer’s workers’ compensation insurance carrier. The insurance company will be involved in processing your claim, but their role does not involve serving as your advocate, either. Remember that their concern lies in the needs of the insurance company, which is keeping costs down.
The best way to ensure you receive the correct compensation for your injuries is to hire a Buffalo workers’ comp lawyer who will make sure your paperwork is completed properly and submitted on time, functioning as an advocate on your behalf.
Turning to the Wrong Attorney for your Workers’ Comp Claim
Not every attorney is experienced in personal injury for workers’ comp. Like doctors, lawyers can go in many directions with the types of cases they focus on. You wouldn’t turn to an orthopedic surgeon to operate on your heart; don’t call on your brother’s divorce lawyer to handle your workers’ comp claim.
The best person to handle your workers’ comp claim is a lawyer who focuses on personal injury, specifically, workers’ comp claims. Your Buffalo workers’ comp lawyer will know what paperwork needs to be filed and when. They can also answer your questions, help prevent the insurance company from delaying and denying your claim, and give you information about related benefits, like Social Security Disability.
Call Our Buffalo Workers’ Comp Lawyer Today
Were you injured in an accident at work? Contact our experienced Buffalo workers’ comp lawyer today for a free consultation and case evaluation. Let us help you get the compensation you deserve.