Monday, November 21, 2016

“The system leaves people stranded…”

“Once, he viewed the world from the top of a 70-foot oil derrick. Eagles would pass as he worked in the Wyoming wind. He would use his whole body to keep balance, attaching solid steel piping that weighed thousands of pounds. Now, he struggles to walk to the mailbox.” So begins a riveting newspaper article on the fate of workers who have been injured working in the booming oil industry. The story of workers injured on the job who are now struggling to get by as they navigate the legal and healthcare systems is gut-wrenching because it is one that is familiar to many of the hard-working families here in Kentucky.

There are about 30,000 Kentuckians who report being injured on the job each year. Many of them also “navigate hospital billing offices and rehab programs, enduring chronic pain while they clean house, waiting to see how far the disability check or the workman’s compensation will stretch that month.”

Working with these hard-working clients to help them get the compensation they deserve is one of the most rewarding things about being an attorney. Just like there are people that thrive on operating large equipment or running the third shift, there are those of us that get an adrenaline rush from going to battle with insurance companies, government agencies, and medical bill collectors. Our firm is full of people who love the latter.

Many people who have been injured on the job only contact us after they have exhausted themselves trying to fight the system by themselves. Sadly, clients who wait to contact us have often seen their health deteriorate even further because they have been stressing themselves out rather than focusing on healing. When we ask why they waited so long to seek help, the most common answer is that they didn’t think they could afford an attorney.

We want to bust this myth. Our firm takes workplace injury cases on a contingency fee basis. This means we only get paid if and when our clients do. In addition, Kentucky law actually caps attorneys’ fees in workers’ compensation cases at 20% of the first $25,000, 15% for the next $10,000 and 5% of the remainder of the award, not to exceed $12,000. Money should not be the reason why someone who has been injured on the job hesitates to hire a lawyer to help them navigate the workers’ compensation, disability, healthcare, and insurance systems.