One of the many questions that I get asked frequently by workers’ compensation clients is “what happens when (or now that) I am released by the doctor?”
What should my attorney do for me once I'm released at Maximum Medical Improvement?
Here at Rocky McElhaney Law Firm, when you get released at Maximum Medical Improvement and your doctor has no further treatment recommendations, the first thing we do is order your final medical records and ask your doctor to provide us with his impairment rating for your injury/injuries. Depending on who your doctor is, we might get the records within a few days or a few weeks. Some offices use copying services that only come in to fill requests once a week. Some offices require pre-payment for records. Other times, the doctor dictates his office notes and needs to have them transcribed before copies can be made and sent to us. We get records by fax, by US mail, and one copy service even posts medical records to a secure online storage site and emails us to tell us they have been uploaded.
How do you find out if your impairment rating is correct?
Once we have all of your medical records and the doctor’s impairment rating, we have to make sure the rating is correct. For more on impairment ratings, take a look at my blog post here.
Putting together a settlement offer for the insurance company
When we have addressed the impairment rating, either by confirming that your doctor did it correctly or by getting an independent evaluation, we can start looking at putting together a settlement offer to the insurance company. We’ll need to know some more information besides the impairment rating, like if your employer brought you back to work or not. When the doctor releases you, he may or may not assign some permanent restrictions. If you do have restrictions, your employer has to decide if it can accommodate those restrictions (either in the same position you had before you got hurt, or if some other position within the company).
Once the settlement demand is sent to the insurance company...
Once we’ve sent the offer (called a settlement demand) over to the insurance company, that’s usually about the time that the insurance company hires its attorney. We work with that attorney to schedule a Benefit Review Conference (BRC) for your claim. A BRC is a mandatory mediation held at the Department of Labor where we try and resolve your claim before a lawsuit is filed.
Some cases get settled without a BRC even being scheduled. Other times, we schedule a BRC but get the case settled before the mediation. Most other cases settle at the BRC. The cases that don’t settle at that point go into litigation. From there, there are written questions and answers exchanged by both sides, depositions of you and the doctor(s), and eventually a trial if there isn’t a settlement before the case got to that point.
If you're confused or have questions about the workers' compensation process, please give us a call!
The process a workers’ compensation claim goes through after an injured worker gets released by the doctor takes a different amount of time for each individual person, depending on the facts of their case. If you have questions about what comes next after your doctor releases you, give us a call.