What is a Board Certified Specialist in Workers’ Compensation?
Hiring an attorney is a big decision. Your attorney is largely responsible for how your case will play out. You don’t want to pick just anyone. However, if you’ve never hired an attorney before, it may be difficult to know what to look for in a lawyer. You’re going to want someone who’s experienced, and has a history of winning awards and settlements. But how do you know if an attorney is really as experienced as they say?
One way to tell is by looking for a Board Certified Specialist in workers’ compensation. Not just any attorney can become Board Certified. The North Carolina State Bar is the government agency which licenses and monitor attorneys. They only distinguish a very, very small number of attorneys as Board Certified Specialists.
The first requirement is that an attorney must have at least five years experience practicing primarily workers’ compensation law. Once they have that experience under their belt, they can submit an extensive application detailing various cases that they’ve handled.
They must also undergo many hours of continuing education and have their work evaluated by a committee of other attorneys. Finally, once they’ve accomplished all of that, they must take a day-long, written examination, which has been failed by many seasoned attorneys.
At Oxner + Permar we are proud to have a large team of Board Certified Specialists. We understand that a workers’ compensation claim is important to you and your future. We want to make sure that we are as prepared as possible to take on your case.
Having Board Certification proves a level of competency and dedication above that of your average attorney. Looking for board certification is an excellent way to find an attorney who is qualified to handle your case.
Does Workers’ Comp Cover Me at a Holiday Work Party?
The holiday season is finally over. For many of us, it’s the busiest time of the year. Between our own personal holiday celebrations and the uptick in the amount of work, the holidays can feel absolutely non-stop. It’s also the time of year when many companies have holiday parties. Depending on who you are and how you feel about socializing at work, this could either fall on the celebration or non-stop work side of things. But what about in the eyes of workers’ compensation? Do these parties fall under the category of work or play?
In North Carolina, workers’ comp covers you when you are “performing the duties of employment.” This means anything from the daily tasks of your job, to special errands you do for work (for instance if your boss asked you to run to the store to buy coffee). So does the holiday party fall under “the duties of employment”?
Unfortunately, there isn’t really a yes or no answer. If you’re injured at a work party, workman’s comp is going to evaluate your situation. Some of the things they might take into consideration are:
- Were you required to be at the office party?
- Did your company benefit by you being at the party?
- Did the party occur during normal work hours?
Workers’ comp is even flexible with what it means to be required to go to the party. For instance, your boss might not directly tell you that you have to go to the holiday party; however, if it’s implied that you must go, and that you will face consequences for not attending, chances are that you could be covered by workers’ comp benefits.
If you were injured at a holiday office party, contact an experienced attorney to discuss your eligibility. At Oxner + Permar, we believe in fighting for our clients and ensuring that their rights are being protected.
How to Hire an Attorney — and What it Will Cost.
If you’ve never dealt with a court case before, the thought of hiring an attorney can be a little intimidating. Do you really need one? How do you go about hiring an attorney? And then there’s the dreaded question: How much is it going to cost me? Hiring an attorney might be easier and more pain-free than you think.
So let’s take a look at what’s involved.
How much does hiring an attorney cost? Of course, every firm handles fees differently. At Oxner + Permar, we work on a contingency fee basis. This means if you don’t get paid, we don’t get paid. In other words, if your claim is denied, you don’t owe us anything. This takes some of the risk out of hiring an attorney, and you can be sure that your attorney has incentive to win your case outside of just wanting to help you.
Ideally, you won’t be denied — so what’s it going to cost if you do win your case? Our fees are based on the permanent award at maximum medical improvement or a settlement. There are other less common contingencies, like receiving Social Security Disability with an offset or receiving temporary partial disability. However, the Industrial Commission has to approve all of our fees, so you can be sure that they’ll be fair. Typically they approve a fee of 25%. We know some firms ask for more, but our policy is to never ask for more than 25% of your overall settlement. As for temporary benefits, we only take fees on disputed or litigated benefits.
So how do you go about hiring an attorney? Honestly, it’s as easy as picking up the phone and giving us a call. We’ll connect you to one of our attorneys who will evaluate your case. We’re happy to give you advice even if you don’t end up hiring us. In fact, it could be that it’s not in your best interests to hire an attorney, in which case we’ll advise you accordingly.
If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to call us. We don’t charge for simply inquiries. We would much rather talk to you now and give you advice that helps keep your situation pointed in the right direction.
Wouldn’t I Get More Money if I Didn’t Hire an Attorney?
No lawyer can guarantee the results of any one case — there’s too much uncertainty as to what may happen. However, if you choose an attorney who specializes in your area of concern and who is part of a team that’s known as one of the leading groups within that area of law, you greatly increase your chances of winning your case. As attorneys, the Oxner + Permar team is specially educated and experienced in dealing with workers’ comp cases, which is why we’ve won so many.
There are so many variables in a case, which can make it hard to know whether or not your decision to invest in an attorney was the right one until the case is complete and the results are known. One such variable is timing — such as when you choose to hire an attorney and when you end up being able to return to work. For instance, you might hire an attorney early on in your case. This is generally a good idea because we can help guide you from day one and make sure you are doing everything you can to protect yourself and your right to benefits. However, it could be that you’re feeling back to your old self and ready to return to work within six months. In this case, you’d be getting less mileage out of your attorney’s fee than if your case went on for a long time. Of course, you’d rather be healthy with a small case than the other way around.
In many cases, Oxner + Permar is able to negotiate a settlement that is considerably larger than you would have gotten on your own, even after you’ve factored in your attorney’s fee. This is because we’re specialists when it comes to workers’ compensation; we know every facet and nuance of the law. We’re able to leverage that knowledge to make sure you’re fully compensated.
In many respects, the law is complicated. This is why many lawyers specialize. At Oxner + Permar, we set a high standard for ourselves because we care a great deal about understanding your case and how to help you win. We’re probably not the people you want to call when you need to fight a traffic ticket because that’s just not our area. But workers’ comp is our area of expertise.
If you’ve got a workman’s compensation issue and you’re trying to decide what to do, remember that when dealing with any case, knowing the law is critical to getting what you are entitled to. Working with an experienced attorney is safer than going at it alone.
At Oxner + Permar, we are dedicated to using our knowledge and experience to help you get the benefits you deserve.
Can I (or Should I) Change Lawyers?
There are lots of things that could cause you to want to change lawyers. Maybe you and your attorney don’t really get along. Maybe you feel like your attorney is over promising, and failing to bring about the results you expected. You are allowed to change lawyers; however, you shouldn’t do so without careful thought.
At Oxner + Permar, our policy states that if there is a disagreement as to how your case is being handled you should insist on a face-to-face meeting with your lawyer to try to clear the air.
Your relationship with your attorney is just like any other kind of relationship: communication is necessary in order for it to be successful. Expressing your dissatisfaction in a civil, direct way will give your attorney a chance to perform better. For example, some attorneys are incredible in the courtroom, but can lack people skills when it comes to dealing with clients. Constructive feedback can be a helpful reminder.
If your attorney simply won’t work with you, then you may need to seriously consider switching attorneys. You only have one shot at your workers’ compensation case: no mulligans, no do-overs. If you truly believe it’s worth it, then you should definitely switch attorneys.
If you do decide to change attorneys there are a few things to keep in mind:
- You will only pay one attorney’s fee. Your attorney’s fee will be split between the two attorneys you worked with. Both deserve compensation for working on your case whether or not you feel they deserve it.
- The attorney you’re leaving must give you your file. If your attorney wants to, he or she is allowed to keep a copy of your file; however, you cannot be charged for this copy.
- Your former attorney must file a Motion to Withdraw with the Industrial Commission. Technically, the Industrial Commission must approve this motion and no new attorney will be able to get anything done until the motion is approved.
Ultimately it’s your case, so you must do what you believe is in your best interest. Don’t risk your benefits and your future. Hire an attorney with experience, someone you can trust.