Does the Workers’ Comp system grind people down? If you ask most of my clients, the answer is yes. I have to agree. The system has always been far from perfect.
I have long thought a few changes in the workers compensation statute would go a long way towards making it more fair for claimants, but it seems as though the system has gotten meaner in the last few years. I tend to see the workers compensation system from the claimant’s perspective.
We are one of the premier law firms in Southern Maryland for Workers’ Comp claims. Not many attorneys do Workers’ Comp cases. One reason is that the law is completely different from most other areas of law. The other reason is the fact that dealing with the constant barriers put up by workers comp insurers is a big hassle. You need to know how to deal with them, or you will pull your hair out.
The insurance companies have just about perfected the tactic of “deny and delay”. They are quick to cut the claimant off from the weekly check. Often the claimant’s check is stopped on the thinnest evidence. When that happens, we have to file for a hearing. It takes 30-60 days to get one (usually more like 60). Who can afford to live without income for that long? It wears the claimant down, and it isn’t fair.
Sometimes the Workers’ Comp insurer will deny reasonable requests made by the claimant’s doctor. Fighting over medical care is something that takes a lot of my time. Often, a request for care will be denied or delayed, and the poor claimant cannot get that medical care for months while we wait for a hearing date. Admittedly, there are some bad doctors out there and it is sometimes reasonable to deny the care requested by some of these guys. But when a well-respected doctor requests reasonable medical care, it should be approved. Sometimes the denial of that care is downright unconscionable.
More often than not, I suspect it is done just to wear the claimant down. All of these deny & delay tactics have the effect of wearing people down. They get sick of dealing with the matter. Sometimes they give up (always against my advice). Sometimes they just settle. Sometimes they pay for medical care out of their pocket. Sometimes they run it through their own health insurance if they have it.
It isn’t a fair system. Until it is reformed, we just have to continue fighting when we have to. There is a good reason that very few Workers’ Comp claimants try to handle their claim without an attorney. You will get eaten alive. Hopefully, the workers’ compensation system will be reformed one day. But don’t hold your breath!
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