May 19, 2011
Myth – I cannot afford an attorney, so how will I be able to represent myself at a hearing?
Truth – Lawyers only get paid if they win.
After Joe was injured on his construction job he asked his employer about workman’s compensation. He needed help to cover the medical bills for his swollen ankle. But his employer said Joe’s injury didn’t seem that serious. So Joe sent him a doctor’s note that showed the severity of his injury. He didn’t hear back from his boss, even after Joe followed up with phone calls. He started to get the feeling he was being put off. Joe realized that to get the compensation he deserved, he might need to talk to a lawyer. But he hesitated. After all… aren’t lawyers pretty expensive? How was he going to afford the help he desperately needed?
Get a lawyer Joe!
Joe should be reassured to know that any lawyer who represents injured workers is not permitted to accept money from a claimant at any time during a case. In fact, there is no charge for a consultation with an attorney. We get paid only if we win the case. Our fees are deducted from the amount of money awarded to the claimant. A Law Judge must approve the fee requested. If we are unsuccessful in the case the claimant does not owe any money. It is always recommended that claimant have counsel at the hearings because the insurance company will have an attorney representing them. The Law Judge is not necessarily there to help injured workers like Joe, if they do not have counsel. With all the new changes to the law and specific rules and regulations, a claimant without an attorney will be hard pressed to win their case and get the proper benefits.
So Joe, if that bad boss still isn’t returning your calls don’t hesitate to consult with a lawyer right away, free of charge.
DISCLAIMER: This article is designed to provide general information. Although this article has been prepared by professionals, it should not be used as a substitute for professional services. If legal or other professional advice is required, the services of a professional should be sought.
Matthew Funk, a partner at Pasternack Tilker Ziegler Walsh Stanton & Romano, LLP, has been practicing Workers’ Compensation Law for over a decade. He is a member of the Workers’ Compensation Bar Association, Injured Workers Bar Association and the New York Coalition for Occupational Safety and Health (NYCOSH). He has written for the New York State Trial Lawyers Workers’ Compensation Decisions program and has lectured on numerous occasions focusing on Workers Compensation Law. Send your Workers’ Compensation questions to: MattF@brecherfishman.com or call at (347) 952-4228.