>> Tiffany Bittner: Hello. We have the answer to your legal questions. Here’s what’s coming up. In, our caller segment, we talk about worker compensation. How do you know if you are eligible, how is it different from eligibility and can you collect both at the same time and every lawyer is not racking up billable hours? We talk about contingency fees. How they make their living. We talk about your home. We break down homeowner insurance.
First, we have Ken Riley with an e-mail question. Thad writes in to say, “I was working part time for a tent service for a contractor. I was injured at a job site and I’m not sure who should help with my medical bills. The tent service and contractor are giving me the run around.” What does Thad need to do?
>> Ken Riley: This happens from time to time. In that situation, it’s a good situation. Like we’ll talk about tonight, you will be covered by work comp regardless. Maybe through contractor’s insurance, or maybe the temp service. Depending on how it happened, but there may be a way to hold the contractor responsible in a third party setting. That’s different from what you recover in the worker comp laws. You will need to talk to someone like my guest on the show tonight to drill down to figure out what to do in your case. Whew go to Ken’s website deliveringjustice.com for more information. In tonight’s side bar, Kirby Farris explains how most lawyers make a living.
—- Side Bar —-
>> Kirby Farris: If you were injured in an accident, how can you afford an attorney? It’s done by contingency fee. 234 the arrangement the lawyer takes the case without money up front. In return, he’s entitled to a percentage of the award if the case is successful. Lawyers take a risk themselves. If the case is lost, the lawyer is paid nothing. Here is your side bar advice: The contingency fee system ensures peoples that otherwise wouldn’t be able to afford a lawyer, take on the court system. If you have a question, send it along to LawCallTV.com. I’m personal injury attorney, Kirby Farris.
>> Tiffany Bittner: Good evening to you. We are glad to have you here tonight. We are talking about workman’s compensation. If you have been injured on the job and you are trying to get your medical bills paid. If you feel you have a case, give us a call. We have Ken Riley and tell everyone who we have on tonight.
>> Ken Riley: We have invited back Gina Coggin. She’s been practicing since —
>> Gina Coggin: 1983.
>> Ken Riley: Thank you for being here tonight. Will you tell us about your practice, who you are and what you do?
>> Gina Coggin: I practice in Gadsden. I do a lot of worker compensation. It seems to be the thing I enjoy the most, honestly. It’s nice to help folks that don’t know what to do. Workman’s comp is like navigating a strange new world. It’s one of my favorite things to do. Hand in hand with that sometimes is social security. I deal with that as well.
>> Tiffany Bittner: What are calls you normally get about concern for workman compensation?
>> Gina Coggin: The majority come in because they don’t understand about medical care and treatment. Why do I have to go to a doctor they are making me go to who won’t listen to me, doesn’t seem concerned about my complaints are, listens to the case manager and listens to them talk instead of me talking about my symptoms. That’s the number one reason people come to our office. They want to be proactive for their own medical care and there are restrictions for that.
>> Ken Riley: While we are talking about medical benefits. We need to give these folks information that they can use, what if they go to another doctor on their own? Can that hurt their claim?
>> Gina Coggin: Absolutely. If someone goes to the doctor on their own and work comp has not approved that doctor, they are going to have to pay for that doctor sometimes out of their own pocket. People will say, yeah, but I have insurance. Insurance won’t cover payment for medical worker comp should be paying. We have seen many times if that happens, if an employee goes to their own doctor and then figures out, “Wait a minute, someone else should have been paying that”. They’ll take their money back and the person is sitting there without any way to pay for his injury.
>> Tiffany Bittner: Let’s get to our first caller. Rick?
>> Caller: Will worker comp cover PTSD?
>> Gina Coggin: It won’t cover a psychological injury. Most of the time when we are looking at PTSD, it’s brought about as a result of a trauma. If there is a physical trauma that happens or a physical injury and you receive PTSD diagnosis or have symptoms because of the physical injury, it can connect back to the physical injury. Unfortunately, we have tried many times to get psychological injuries covered under the worker comp act, and it’s not, by itself recoverable. If you are semi dealing with a psychological injury, there are a lot of jobs that would have that as a by-product. We see police officers, dispatchers, firefighters who deal with horrific things, and PTSD is a natural overflow of some of that, But our courts have held that unless there is a physical injury that is the cause that PTSD stems from, it will not be covered under the Worker Comp Act.
>> Tiffany Bittner: With that, we need to take a break. When we come back, we’ll take more questions on worker comp. That’s what we are covering tonight. We would love to hear from you. Give us a call.
>> Tiffany Bittner: Do you have homeowner insurance? You probably do if you own your own home. Do you know what it covers? We cover that in this week’s legal brief.
—- Legal Brief —-
>> Bob Prince: What insurance you have can be confusing. If you think you need something to cover fire and storm damage, think again. That’s called casualty insurance. Homeowner’s insurance is broader. It will protect you toward your own negligent toward others. It can also cover people hurt on your property that’s no one’s fault. Say someone gets hurt on your front steps. They fall and you are covered. If you have a dog and it bites your guest, your homeowners will cover your responsibility. Plus pay your legal fees. Take the policy to your insurance agent and ask for an explanation. They’ll be glad to help. That’s your legal brief. I’m personal injury attorney Bob Prince. Back to you guys.
>> Tiffany Bittner: We are discussing worker compensation tonight. If you have a question, feel free to call us and ask it. We have Sharon on the line. What’s going on?
>> Caller: Okay, my claim is with the department of labor. What happened is my claim was settled. I had an injury and it was settled about four years ago. Since that time, I have had problems that recurred from the injury. They are telling me that my case has been settled and also the physician that treated me saying he doesn’t take the federal government worker comp anymore. What options do I have as far as being seen for this injury again?
>> Gina Coggin: Federal compensation is different from Alabama worker comp. It depends on what you have settled and what remains open. It will solely depend on; surely there is paper work you completed in the settlement. Review the paper work, see what it says. There are doctors that will not take federal worker comp. They have their own network of doctors that will treat patients. If your doctor now doesn’t take federal worker comp, then you need to go back to the adjustor you had, find out what doctor they replace in front of your doctor and backtrack and go from there.
>> Ken Riley: Is there a point she needs to contact someone like yourself to help her?
>> Gina Coggin: You want to contact someone absolutely that specializes in Federal worker comp. That’s very different than State worker’s comp.
>> Ken Riley: Wish you the very best.
>> Tiffany Bittner: Let’s here from John now. Hey John.
>> Caller: I have a question. I got hurt a few years ago and settled up, but I didn’t settle my medical part medicine wise. I need to know how I can go back because I have moods and stuff. I have lost work. Is there anyway I can go back?
>> Gina Coggin: You can always go back to wherever you settled your case, whatever county that was. The clerk’s office should be able to get a copy of the paper work. Right now, everything is online. We do everything through a computer. They would have loaded, if it was a long time ago, they would have loaded it into an electronic file and it would be attainable through the computer. Let me say this about your medical care and treatment. It’s important to get medical care and treatment on a consistent basis once you revolve your claim. You need to continue to treat with your doctor at least once a year. Go back for continuing maintenance to make sure everything is okay. If you wait a long period of time to see the doctor, work comp is going to want to know what is taking so long and has something new happened? If they think something new has happened, they may deny the medical care and treatment. As a general rule of thumb, it’s important to continue to treat with your doctor, go in once a year. Make sure everything is okay.
>> Ken Riley: John didn’t settle, which is smart, but talk about those considering. Maybe threat get a call from the insurance company. They have an old comp claim and they want to settle their meds.
>> Gina Coggin: Medical treatment, you have to revolve it yourself. If the judge finds its come pensive, it depends on what is related today the injury. We have heard lifetime benefits. If you get a call from the adjustor because they want to close that file and not report on it annually, then you need to make sure that you are in the right position to revolve your medicals. If you are drawing social security disability, you can’t settle your medicals unless you consider Medicare’s interest. You can’t make the decision; I think I’ll settle my medicals. They are going to offer me $5,000, I’ll settle my medicals. If you are a recipient, you have to consider the interest. There is a Medicare set aside that has to be contemplated. That has to be done. The amount that’s put into the set aside has to be spent on things Medicare pays for. There are other things that we call non-qualifieds that come out of pocket. There are a lot of things to consider closing out your benefits, especially if you are receiving social security disability. You need to consider that wisely and speak with a lawyer before you do that.
>> Tiffany Bittner: All right. We are going to a break. We’ll be right back.
>> Tiffany Bittner: Here’s our upcoming docket: June 19th, father-in-law weekend. Buying a franchise on the 26th. July 3rd is summertime injury. We want you to join us for all of those shows. Be a part of LawCall. Call us or email in. If you are watching this evening and you want to contact Gina Coggin located in Gadsden, (256) 485-0909 or visit her on the web, CogginFirm.com. Bob Prince (800) 536-1105 or PrinceLaw.net. Ken Riley with Farris, Riley & Pitt 324-1212 or again, DeliveringJustice.com. You can look him up on the web OR call his office if you have questions. Ken, you do personal injury. If you will, share with the folks what that means, what that entails, things they need to know about you guys?
>> Ken Riley: We are an accident injury firm, wrongful death firm. We hold those responsible accountable, help those that have lost a loved one. When it comes to worker comp, we call someone like Gina.
>> Tiffany Bittner: We are glad to have you on the show, Gina. Joseph is our next phone call. How are you doing?
>> Caller: I had an accident in 1998. I lost contact with my doctor and worker comp. They didn’t follow up on anything. I got in touch with them and the file was burned up and all. I left my medical open. I don’t know what I need to do about it?
>> Gina Coggin: Well, I think you have to retrace your steps there and try to find out who the adjustor would be that you need to talk with. If you had a lawyer representing you, I would go back to that lawyer, see what that lawyer can find out. Another clue is to go back to the county where you were like we talked about and try to pull up that decision, and then talk with that lawyer, the defense lawyer, see if the defense lawyer can connect you to the adjustor in the case. You may run into issues. It’s been a long time since you have seen a doctor. You need to be clear when you go into this to let the adjustor know, if this is correct, of course, that you have not had new injuries, and you need to follow back up with that medical care.
>> Tiffany Bittner: thank you for the call, Joseph. Reginald is on the line now. Tell us what’s going on and what your question is about?
>> Caller: I want to know about VA benefits, if you are entitled to compensation and the VA hasn’t gotten back with you about an issue, what should you do if it’s in your record?
>> Gina Coggin: Well, VA Benefits just like we were talking about department of labor issues. That is very different than a worker comp claim. I can tell you receiving VA benefits unfortunately can take a very long time. It’s something that can take many years to process. The first thing you will need to do is go to your local VA Department. There will be a representative there who can help you. Speak with them. Find out if you have already made out a claim for benefits and let them begin that process with you if you have not already done that. Once you get as far as you can go with them, you need to seek out the services of a lawyer that specializes in VA benefits. There are lawyers that specifically do this kind of work. They know exactly what they need to do to get you your benefits. That’s who you need to call for that.
>> Ken Riley: You can give us a call. We have contact information for those folks.
>> Tiffany Bittner: Thank you for calling us. Sherry’s on the line now. Welcome to LawCall tonight.
>> Caller: Hey, how are you?
>> Tiffany Bittner: Hey, Sherry. Great.
>> Caller: My question is I got hurt and broke a bone in my finger. During the time with worker comp, I was 35% disabled. They wanted today offer me a lump sum. I wanted to speak with someone about it. If I can’t type now, we have to take typing tests every three years. Once I take the test, I may not be able to pass and I’ll be messed up in my job.
>> Ken Riley: Tough spot.
>> Gina Coggin: That’s there are tough because if we are talking about a finger, it’s a schedule member under the Worker Comp Act. Unless we can get that injury out of the schedule, in other words, if that injury interferes with other parts of the body not considered a schedule, you are just stuck with a very small recovery. We can’t look at vocational disability or vocational impairment like what she’s talking about when she says, “what if I can’t type and do my job”, that’s a vocational disability. If we are just talking about a schedule, we don’t talk about a vocational disability. She needs to speak to an attorney before anything else goes forward.
>> Tiffany Bittner: All right, thanks for coming in. Have a great week, everyone. See you here for LawCall next Sunday night at 10:30.