Straight Answers To Frequently Asked Questions On Workers’ Compensation
I am workers’ compensation attorney Tim Alvarez. After practicing workers’ compensation law for more than 30 years, I know that injured workers want straight and honest answers to their questions. I hope you find the following information helpful. You can also call The Alvarez Law Firm at 913-371-1030 to get your questions answered.
1. What types of benefits are available to me as a result of my work-related injury?
Answer: Workers’ compensation is state law so the benefits will vary from state to state. However, in Kansas and Missouri, workers’ compensation benefits generally can include payment of medical expenses, a weekly check if you are unable to work due to your injury while under your physician’s care and a lump-sum payment at the conclusion of your claim depending on the severity and permanency of your injury. Additionally, there may be other benefits including the right to future medical treatment. It is important to consult an attorney as soon as possible after injury to fully discuss the benefits that may be available to you.
2. Is it possible for me to keep my medical benefits open even after the conclusion of my case?
Answer: If your injury will require ongoing medical treatment or future medical treatment, it may be possible to keep your right to future medical treatment available even after the conclusion of your case depending on the individual facts of your case. This can be important because health insurance or Medicare can decline coverage for a work-related injury.
3. What determines whether Kansas or Missouri law applies to my case?
Answer: Generally, your claim can be filed in the state where you were injured, the state where you were hired or the state of your principal place of employment. In the Kansas City metropolitan area it is not unusual for a worker to be able to file his or her claim in either Kansas or Missouri or both. Attorney Tim Alvarez is licensed and practices in both Kansas and Missouri and will choose the state that will provide you the best benefits depending on the individual facts of your case.
4. Can my employer retaliate against me for making workers’ compensation claim?
Answer: Both Kansas and Missouri have laws that prohibit discrimination or retaliation by the employer against a worker for filing workers’ compensation claim. Discrimination or retaliation by the employer is illegal and would expose the employer to civil liability. It is extremely important that you speak with a lawyer even if you are reluctant to file workers’ compensation claim so that you can be advised of your rights and deadlines for filing.
5. Are there time limitations or filing deadlines that I should be concerned with?
Answer: Yes. This is very important as each state has multiple deadlines, and they begin quickly. In Kansas, the time limitation for reporting the injury may be as short as 10 days depending on the circumstances. In Missouri, the accident must generally be reported within 30 days. These are general rules, and there are many exceptions. Therefore, it is important to consult with an attorney immediately even if it appears that these deadlines may have passed.
6. Should I wait to hire an attorney until I see if the insurance company treats me fairly?
Answer: No. The various filing deadlines still apply to you whether you have an attorney or not. Furthermore, unless you fully understand the benefits available under the various workers’ compensation laws, you are really not in a position to know if you are being treated “fairly” by the insurance company. Finally, data from both states demonstrate that workers with attorneys receive substantially greater financial benefits than workers without attorneys.
7. What are attorney fees and expenses?
Answer: I, like most attorneys, charge 25 percent of the benefits received plus the case expenses. There is no fee unless you receive a settlement or award. Case expenses consist primarily of the cost of obtaining copies of your medical records and obtaining a second opinion from a physician independent of the employer/insurance company’s physician. I obtain a second opinion from a qualified physician to determine (1) if additional medical treatment is currently needed or will be needed in the future and (2) to determine the nature and extent of your injuries.
8. Are you an experienced workers’ compensation attorney?
Answer: I have handled workers’ compensation cases for over 30 years and am licensed in both Kansas and Missouri. I have been named Best of the Bar in workers’ compensation by the Kansas City Business Journal every year since 2007. I am a member of various state and local workers’ compensation committees and am a frequent speaker at workers’ compensation seminars for other attorneys. I am a past president of the Kansas Trial Lawyers Association and the Wyandotte County Bar Association (Kansas City, Kansas) and a current member of the National Conference of Bar Presidents.
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