Learn what to bring for your first meeting with an Atlanta workers’ compensation lawyer
Workers’ compensation is a very confusing area of the law. It has many nuances that don’t exist in other areas of the law.
For example, it doesn’t matter if there was negligence which caused the accident or even if it was the injured individual’s fault. A workers’ compensation claim may exist simply if you are hurt while in the scope and course of your employment. This can lead to many questions at the beginning of your case.
After initially speaking with a client, we like to meet them face to face. Often, this occurs at the outset of the case, but occasionally individuals hire us after they have been hurt and have received medical treatment, and maybe even received indemnity benefits.
Prior to this first meeting, people frequently ask us: What should I bring to our meeting?
This is a great question.
There is certain documentation that the injured worker is required to be given after they have been hurt that they can provide their attorneys. These documents contain vital information regarding the posture of their case. Additionally, these documents can help us determine what legal position the insurance company is taking.
In this article, we will try and address what you need to bring to your initial meeting with your workers’ compensation attorney. In short, here’s a checklist of what you need to be ready for a lawyer consultation:
- Any and all documents you’ve received from your employer regarding the incident report (i.e. your written statement, incident report form, etc.
- Any all forms you’ve received from the Georgia State Board of Workers’ Compensation (i.e. WC-2s, WC-14s, hearing notices, etc.)
- Your medical records (such as a formal work status report)
- Any and all documents you’ve received regarding your employment status (such as a separation of notice)
- Any and all check stubs that the workers’ compensation insurance carrier has provided to you
Continue reading for more explanation about these documents you need to bring and why.
Accident report form and all employer documents
The first thing you need to do in your workers’ compensation case is to report your injury to your employer. Telling a supervisor or a co-worker of your injury might be enough, and sometimes the severity of the injury and the emergency nature of the incident can suffice.
However, usually there’s a paper trail created when you inform your employer. Sometimes the employer requires you to provide a written statement of the injury or provides you with an incident report form to be filled out by a superior.
This is important information and should definitely be provided to your lawyer at the initial meeting as it may provide witness statements, details about jurisdiction and other valuable insights that could be used at hearing before an administrative law judge.
State Board of Workers’ Compensation forms
The second item you should be prepared to provide to your attorney is any and all forms you have received from the State Board of Workers’ Compensation. These documents may include forms, notices of hearings or other official looking papers. Typically, the have the lettering “WC” on the bottom of the page. They also may include a date and time that the injured worker has to appear in court, along with the location and the parties involved in the claim.
Some examples of these documents are:
WC-1. This is a form that reports the first notice of injury. Officially, it is titled the “Employer’s First Report of Injury or Occupational Disease.” This form should be filled out by your employer and sent to the insurance company. This process should begin the investigation process by the insurance company. It also provides the injured worker with information, such as the name of the workers’ compensation insurance company.
Furthermore, the WC-1 has areas to be filled out by the employer which indicate the injured workers’ average weekly wage, who the authorized treating physician is, the date when the employer was made aware of the injury, what classification the employer considered the injured worker, and what county the injury took place in. All of this information is vital in helping your attorney figure out who and where to file a hearing request. It also allows them to expedite the process of obtaining important information such as medical records, wage documentation and other evidence from both the employer and the insurance company.
The final piece of information on a WC-1 is in Section C. This section allows the insurance company to “controvert” the claim. This means that the insurance company and/or the employer is denying your claim. Their denial could be because they don’t believe you were hurt on the job or that you were actually injured in the incident. Section C is extremely important to your attorney as it allows them greater understanding of the claim and how they need to approach your case.
WC-2. This form is the notice of payment or suspension of workers’ compensation benefits. WC-2 is what the insurance company or your employer will file with the State Board of Workers’ Compensation. This form indicates the date that indemnity benefits will begin to be paid, or when they will stop. Benefits that can be commenced and ceased with this form include temporary total disability benefits, temporary partial disability benefits and permanent partial disability benefits.
WC-2 should include your workers’ compensation rate and the amount that is being paid with the first check and each ensuing check. Furthermore, it should include some documentation if the employer and insurance carrier is suspending benefits because the injured worker was returned to work light duty work by the authorized treating physician and the employer had a job available within those restrictions.
- WC-3. This form is a notice to controvert. This means that the insurance company is going to deny the claim, or a certain portion of the claim. The employer or the insurance company is required to state the reasons why they are denying the claim in whole or a portion of the claim. Information like this is very valuable at your first meeting with a workers’ compensation lawyer as it helps us understand what’s likely going to happen and prepare for these events ahead of time.
- WC-6. This form is a wage statement completed by the employer and/or the insurance company. It is used to compute the average weekly wage of the injured worker. WC-6 has specific sections that ensure the employer is completing the information correctly and accurately. Just because information is submitted via this form doesn’t mean that the injured worker cannot contest its findings. Once again, it provides valuable information regarding the insurance carrier and the employer’s contentions.
- WC-14. This form is the notice of a claim. It can be filed by the injured worker, the employer or the insurance carrier. It must be filed within 1 year of the date of the accident if neither medical treatment or indemnity benefits have been paid. This form serves to toll the statute of limitations. If there’s an issue with the statute of limitations, bring this to your attorney if you have it in your possession.
All of these documents provide information regarding the insurance company, their positions on certain matters and even, in some instances, the legal grounds the insurance company is using to deny your claim.
Note that these are just some of the State Board forms that can be important to bring when initially meeting your attorney. The safest bet is to bring ALL of the Board forms in your possession when you initially meet your attorney. Let us sort out what is important and what isn’t.
Work status report and other medical records
After most medical appointments, the doctor or nursing staff will provide you with a formal work status report. This report typically contains the nature of the injury, what treatment was performed at the visit, current work limitations and/or your work status.
Sometimes, doctors will provide patients with even more detailed medical records, but this is exceedingly rare. Nonetheless, please bring all medical records in your possession to your initial meeting or provide them to your attorney via email or text.
This includes, but is not limited to:
- Emergency room records
- Work status notes from the authorized treating physician or medical clinic (such as Concentra, Choice Care or Caduceus)
- Physical therapy notes
These documents allow our attorneys to assess what damage has been done, who has done it, and what can be done medically.
It’s worth noting that there is no need to bring in any medical tests such as an MRI, CT scan or X-ray. Attorneys aren’t doctors and cannot read the actual films. We can read reports that are produced from them, however, so be sure to bring those.
Separation of notice and other employment status documents
It’s also helpful to provide your attorney with any information you may have regarding your employment status. You may have been fired and been given a separation of notice. This is vital to your case because the reasons for your termination could entitle you to immediate workers’ compensation benefits, and help craft the strategy in your case.
You may not have your current employment information on hand, and that’s okay. However, please provide it to your workers’ compensation lawyer if you have that documentation.
Check stubs from the workers’ compensation insurance company
The final item you should bring to your initial meeting with your attorney are any and all check stubs that the workers’ compensation insurance carrier has provided to you. In most instances, this is a check stub from a weekly check.
The check stub provides us with a plethora of information regarding your case. It includes the insurance carrier or third-party administrator, your workers’ compensation rate, the date of injury that the insurance company has listed, and what the benefits are being paid for — among other things.
Consult an experienced Georgia workers’ compensation lawyer
Bringing your medical records, all state-provided forms, documentation of your employment status, check stubs and any information regarding your reporting of the claim is helpful to your attorney at the initial appointment. It never hurts to bring all relevant documentation to your attorney during your first meeting. Remember that State Board forms always contain important information. But if you don’t have them, don’t worry. Be prepared to answer questions though.