When I talk to a potential client for the first time, I am often asked, “Do I need to hire an attorney?” In our experience as workers’ compensation attorneys, we find that most clients are non-confrontational and non-litigious by nature. And when you think about it, it is perfectly understandable that an injured worker dedicated to his or her career would avoid attorneys. Our clients are educated and sophisticated, having worked hard on their careers to afford them the opportunity to work abroad for our armed forces. A lawsuit often is considered an invitation to trouble.
Unfortunately, we are finding that when it comes to Defense Base Act claims, attorneys has become indispensable. Now more than ever, legal help with DBA claims is required for an injured worker to obtain timely and proper payment of medical care and wage loss payments. For military contractors, these benefits have become much harder to secure.
Here are a few reasons why injured workers wind up signing up with our firm as clients:
1. Insurance companies such as CNA, AIG, AWAC/Broadspire, and Zurich have become more aggressive and sophisticated in defending against workers’ compensation injuries, especially psychiatric claims. Just at the time where public awareness of PTSD and stress-related depression is growing for U.S. Veterans, insurance companies are lining up favorable psychiatrists to render evaluations favorable to the defense. More often than not, insurance companies will deny psychiatric claims even before they find a doctor supporting the denial.
2. At the same time, adjusters – most of which mean well and are trying to do their jobs properly – are nonetheless overwhelmed with sizable case counts, many handling over 200 cases. Although adjusters are ethnically bound to give attention to each of their cases, there is little or no government regulation on the amount of cases they can be assigned. As a result, injured workers wait a long time for medical treatment. Wage loss checks are often issued late, or are underpaid. Insurance companies are driven by the bottom line, and placing reasonable caps on adjuster case-counts will cut into their profits.
3. For the most part, under the Defense Base Act, attorneys’ fees will be paid by the defense, and not directly by the injured worker. Many law firms, including ours, will not bill the client for legal services, and the retainer agreement incorporates a contingency fee. Section 28 of the Longshore Act, which applies to DBA claims, directs the insurance company to pay the attorney’s fees where there is a successful prosecution of the claim, which generally includes settlement as well as trial.
For these reasons, we at Kenneth G. Franconero, PLLC strongly recommend that you consult with legal counsel as soon as reasonable after the work injury occurs or the claim is filed. If you have any questions, please feel free to call 1-855-KGF-PLLC.