Risky Business: Proceeding without a Lawyer in Your Workers’ Compensation Case
Three weeks ago, you were evaluated by a doctor which you were sent to by your employer’s workers’ compensation insurance company. You explained to the doctor how you injured yourself at work a few months back, continue to have pain and limitations which prevent you from doing your job, and are receiving treatment from two doctors. Surely, the doctor will agree that you have not recovered from your work injury and cannot go back to your job yet; and the doctor will recommend to the insurance company that your workers’ comp. benefits should not be stopped. The exam was only ten minutes, the doctor seemed nice enough, so you’re not worried.
But then you open up your mail one day and there is a bombshell: a petition to terminate your benefits has been filed against you based on the doctor’s opinion that you have fully recovered from your work injury and can go back to your job without restrictions. You are upset and at a loss as to what to do.
You consider contacting a lawyer, but then think to yourself, “Why should I?” Any judge will look at the facts and conclude that you have not recovered from your injury. How could a judge possibly believe this insurance company doctor who saw you for one brief examination when you have been treating for several months, your MRI showed abnormal findings, you have undergone physical therapy and injections, and take medication daily? This will be a “no brainer” – you will win before the judge, even without a lawyer. And by representing yourself, you will not have to pay any fees to a lawyer.
Think again. There is no such thing as a “slam dunk” win in workers’ compensation, and you will risk losing your benefits if you try to represent yourself. Consider this: the judge assigned to your case will hold a series of hearings. The insurance company will have an experienced workers’ comp. lawyer representing them; you will be overmatched if you try to handle your case without a lawyer. At one of the hearings, you will testify and explain to the judge your job duties, how you injured yourself, the treatment you have received, and why you’re not able to return to work. You will then be cross-examined by the insurance company lawyer. Do you want to go through that by yourself or with a lawyer seated next to you who will protect your rights by objecting to any improper questions?
To win your case, you will also need medical evidence – a deposition from one of your doctors who will describe what injuries you sustained at work and why these injuries prevent you from returning to work. You need this doctor to rebut the testimony of the insurance company’s doctor who will thinks you are fine. This is not something you should do yourself — you need an experienced workers’ comp. lawyer to handle this deposition.
Abe Lincoln stated it well when he said more than 150 years ago, “He who represents himself has a fool for a client.” Don’t jeopardize your rights. Like Honest Abe, we at Pearson Koutcher Law think you will be making a big mistake by representing yourself. Whether you are already receiving workers’ comp. benefits or you recently injured yourself and your claim has not yet been accepted, you need one of our lawyers on your side. Each of our lawyers has more than 20 years of experience handling workers’ comp. cases and can guide you through the process and file any necessary petitions on your behalf. Call Pearson Koutcher Law today and obtain a free, comprehensive consultation from one of our seasoned workers’ comp. lawyers.
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Pearson Koutcher Law
1650 Arch Street
Philadelphia, PA 19103
Bethlehem Office serving the Lehigh Valley
528 Maple Street,
Bethlehem, PA 18018