What are typical case costs in Worker’s Compensation claims? How are they paid? Will I be given advance notice? Does the insurance company have to pay my expenses? How about my attorneys fees?
These are important questions that injured workers ask every day. While every Workers’ Compensation case is different, there are certain costs that typically arise in representing a disabled employee. The insurance company defense lawyers are paid hourly. So, the longer the case takes, the better for them.
Insurance defense lawyers like to take the Deposition of the injured worker. This is an out-of-court interrogation, under oath, for use later in court. They often ask a lot of nosy questions in order to nail down the claimant’s story, and see if there is information that would be helpful for the insurance company. Because the Court Reporters at Depositions charge by the page, and can take up to 8 hours, these typically run several hundreds of dollars. The insurance defense lawyers will also Subpoena all of the injured workers’ medical records. They do this even when we have sent them all of these records. This is an expense that they bear.
However, in cases where the Abrams Landau law team needs to send a Subpoena so that the sheriff can get records from the employer, or other important source (i.e., another employer, OSHA, the police, someone in possession of important evidence, etc.), they will send the subpoena request and the check for payment so that the information can be received. Subpoenas are inexpensive, but sometimes they need to be served by someone other than the sheriffs department, especially during the time of Covid. The cost for a private investigator to serve a subpoena can be several hundreds of dollars, and Abrams Landau has used private investigators to assist in cases where the circumstances warrant. The insurance industry frequently uses surveillance and private investigators, and where witness statements are needed, or other investigative work is necessary, Abrams Landau will invest resources.
Another expense that we see in nearly every single Worker’s Compensation claim is for copies of medical records and bills. Some hospitals and doctors do it in-house, others have outside companies that charge money for sending lawyers the patient’s medical records. This can add up to several hundred dollars, but it’s dependent on the size of the records and the complexity of the case.
In a majority of cases, Herndon Worker’s Compensation lawyer Doug Landau will reimburse a doctor for a narrative report, a permanency evaluation, or for their time for a Deposition, in preparation for that testimony. The cost of narrative reports can be several hundreds of dollars, to several thousands, and the charges by doctors for their Deposition testimony are usually several thousands of dollars. Depositions of the treating doctor are infrequent, but it is important to know that the doctors cancel appointments to clear the time to respond to the questioning, so they are entitled to be reimbursed for this lost revenue.
Having a client evaluated for permanency, or a Functional Capacity Evaluation (“FCE”) is something that can cost between $600-$2,000, and it helps establish the permanent partial disability (“PPD”) rating such that a Permanency AWARD can be entered. In cases where the permanency is likely minimal, that expenditure may not make sense.
The Abrams Landau law team has also hired a nurse or other specialist to accompany clients to the Insurance Medical Examination (“IME”) when the circumstances warrant such an investment. Because these IMEs are very often adversarial, and the insurance company doctor will write a report that will likely not be favorable to the injured worker, spending several hundred dollars for a medical professional to accompany the client, in Landau’s words, “is money well spent.” That nurse can then be a witness at the Hearing, and the nurse can also help assist the Abrams Landau workers compensation team in preparing for court. The Abrams Landau team counsels clients regularly that they should never go to an Insurance Medical Exam alone, without a family member or other persons present. Having a witness reduces the likelihood of mischief or inaccuracies in the written report.
Injured workers’ attorney Doug Landau has taken the Deposition of key witnesses on the other side of the case when it made sense to do so. Frequently, coworkers, managers, supervisors and others will tow the company line, but in specific cases, the expenditure of several hundred dollars for a witness Deposition is money well spent. Landau has, in some cases, outspent the insurance company. In one particular case, Abrams Landau spent over $50,000 for a disabled worker, who sustained a significant brain injury. While that investment in the case was unusual, it did result in a winning decision, and ultimately a seven-figure settlement for the client and his family.
Under Virginia law, the injured worker is responsible for his or her own attorneys fees. Even where the insurance company loses at a hearing, the employee is responsible for the attorneys fee, and so forth by the judge in the opinion. Award orders also set forth the amount of the attorney fee. The Virginia Workers’ Compensation Commission (VWC) sets attorneys fees, usually 20% of what is produced by the lawyer’s efforts. In certain rare instances, where an insurance company or defense lawyer has been sanctioned, there may be some payment of attorney fees, but these are very rare.
When are expenses and costs expected to be paid?
People ask lawyer Landau WHEN costs and expenses are to be paid. Sometimes they are paid after a successful Hearing before the Virginia Workers’ Compensation Commission. Sometimes they are paid when an Award order is entered in favor of the injured worker for time lost from work, or permanency. Oftentimes, expenses are paid when the case settles. In some cases, where the Abrams Landau law firm has another case for the same client, the firm would seek to be reimbursed at that time. In other words, where a client settles their work-related car crash case first, the firm would seek to get reimbursed at that time. Then, when the Workers’ Compensation case settles, there would be likely very little in the way of additional expenses, meaning a greater net recovery for the client. It is not uncommon for the Abrams Landau law team to be working on several files for an individual client who is injured, on the job, and also has a third-party negligence case and/or Social Security disability claim.
Bottom line, while Doug Landau cannot tell you at the beginning of the case exactly how much your expenses will be, the team does counsel clients as to expenses as they arise. Any time there will be an expenditure of more than $100, a team member will reach out to the client. Landau notes, “No one likes surprises after a Hearing or at the end of a case when it is settling, so while we do not call every time we lick a stamp or send a fax, if a doctor wants $3,000 for her Deposition, we call the client!” In a typical case where there will be medical records needed, evidence required, a deposition and possibly a permanency evaluation or Functional Capacity Exam, expenses are typically several hundred dollars up to several thousands of dollars.
The Abrams Landau law firm does not try cases without evidence. We understand there are some law firms that will try a case “on the cheap.” They do not subpoena necessary records, nor defend or take depositions, and do not invest in getting copies of the medical evidence, a permanency evaluation, an FCE, or other steps to help the client get full and fair compensation. Abrams Landau has the resources, staffing and assets such that if we take on the case, we can use the tools to prepare the case for a favorable result. Clients and their families appreciate the fact that by fronting the costs of their Workers’ Compensation claim, as allowed under law, Abrams Landau is, in effect, giving them an “interest free loan.” After an on-the-job injury or catastrophic accident, no banker would be so generous as to give any loan, let alone an interest-free loan, to a disabled worker!