In workers compensation, there are two benefits that an injured worker is entitled to: medical treatment and lost wages. When an employee is injured while in the course and scope of employment, the Employer is required to send the injured worker to a medical provider that is covered by their workers compensation insurance. In many instances, the Employer is reluctant to send the injured employee for medical treatment and that is when hiring an attorney would be a good option. When an attorney is hired, a Petition for Benefits is filed with the Court requesting the benefits that the injured employee is seeking. Once the Petition for Benefits is filed, the Employer and their insurance company has a certain period of time to respond by either providing the benefits or denying them. If the requested benefit is denied, that becomes an issue which the Judge of Compensation Claims has authority to decide on.
One question that many of our clients have is whether the Judge has the authority to decide how much money they should receive in a settlement. The answer is that the Judge cannot decide the amount that should be offered in a settlement because a settlement is voluntary on the side of the injured worker and also on the side of the Employer/Carrier. However, the Judge has the authority to rule on any issues in the case. For example, if a Petition for Benefits is filed requesting medical treatment with a back specialist and the Employer/Carrier denies that benefit, that issue may be taken in front of a Judge to decide whether the benefit should be provided or not.
With regards to lost wage benefits, an injured worker is entitled to lost wage checks if a workers compensation physician has opined that the employee is unable to work or places the employee on certain restrictions which the Employer is not able to accommodate. In certain situations, the Employer does not provide work to the injured employee while they are on work restrictions, but lost wages are denied. If this occurs, the issue may be taken to a Hearing for a Judge to rule on.
As you can see, there are certain benefits that may be denied by the Employer/Carrier which may need to be decided by a Judge of Compensation Claims. That is why it is important to hire a Workers’ Compensation attorney who handles these types of situations in order to get advice about how to proceed with the case. If you are in this situation or know of someone who is, have them give us a call at (877) 817-4127.