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New Hampshire workers' compensation

New Hampshire Workers’ Compensation: Third-Party Claims

In the New Hampshire workers’ compensation system, employees are prohibited from suing their employers or co-workers for their workplace injuries. However, an injured worker may be able to bring a lawsuit against a third-party wrongdoer. These are non-employees (known as “third parties”) who, at least in part, may have contributed to the employee’s injuries. Below is a list of issues that the New Hampshire workers’ compensation attorneys at Manning & Zimmerman Law consider when handling work injury claims:

Was a third-party potentially responsible for the injuries?

The best time to examine the possibility of a third-party claim is during your first meeting with a New Hampshire workers’ compensation attorney. The reason for this is two-fold: 1) The existence of a third-party claim could substantially impact the value of your case. 2) There may be a different statute of limitations for the two claims.

If your work injury lawyer decides to open both claims, best practices include opening a separate file for each claim. This is done to keep track of each statute of limitations independently. Ideally, your injury attorney would handle both the workers’ compensation and third-party liability claims. However, if that is not possible, the attorneys should communicate regularly. This ensures that neither attorney takes an action that would negatively impact their mutual client’s other claim. It also reduces the amount of duplicative work.

Scrutinize asserted New Hampshire workers’ compensation lien amounts

When there is a third-party liability claim, New Hampshire workers’ compensation insurance carriers are, by law, entitled to liens for payments previously made, and for future payments made on your behalf, either through settlement or judgment. There is no need for the insurance carrier to intervene in the third-party suit to protect its lien. The lien arises by operation of law. The insurance carrier’s lien rights are divided into two separate and distinct rights – its right to recoupment and it’s right to a “holiday” or “offset” against future payments. The carrier may waive one right while retaining the other.

These liens can be negotiated by the New Hampshire workers’ compensation lawyers at Manning & Zimmerman Law. First off, per the lien statute, the lien must be reduced by the carrier’s pro rata share of expenses and costs for bringing the third-party claim. Additionally, certain expenses incurred by the insurance carrier are prohibited from inclusion in any lien but may appear in the itemization of amounts paid provided by the insurance carrier. For example, administrative claims costs, vocational rehabilitation expenses, and interest cannot be recovered and, accordingly, should be removed from the calculation of a lien amount. In addition, work injury lawyers should consider negotiating an even lower repayment or holiday if, in your third-party claim, you have limited insurance available, there are significant liability problems, or the claim would be expensive to pursue.

If the insurance carrier refuses to negotiate or appropriately reduce its lien, your New Hampshire workers’ compensation attorney at Manning & Zimmerman Law  can request a hearing on the equitable repayment of the lien before the Superior Court.

Hearing at Department of Labor

During the litigation of your claim, the insurance carrier may deny coverage of one or more of your medical bills. In order to get that bill paid, a hearing on payment before the Department of Labor would normally be requested. Before you do so, however, if you have a third-party liability claim, your injury attorney should take time to consider the effect of a Department of Labor decision upholding the carrier’s decision to deny payment of that particular bill(s) on your future ability to present that bill as evidence of an injury-related medical expense in any hearing or trial regarding your third-party claim. A negative decision from the Department of Labor will be binding. Also, the potential detriment of requesting a hearing on a particular bill may outweigh the potential benefit under certain circumstances.

Third-party claim settlements must be approved

The New Hampshire workers’ compensation attorneys at Manning & Zimmerman Law know that no settlement by an employee against a third-party is binding until approved by the Labor Commissioner. Actions that have already commenced are subject to approval by the court or arbitration proceeding where the action is pending. The purpose of this process is to protect the lien rights of the workers’ compensation insurance carrier. Accordingly, the documents submitted to the Labor Commissioner upon settlement, or the Court through a Petition to Approve the Settlement, require that the amount of the lien be provided. Also, a portion of the settlement funds must be paid to the insurance carrier in satisfaction of its statutory lien.

Contact Experienced New Hampshire Workers’ Compensation Attorneys

Workers are often worried about how they are going to pay for an attorney. Attorneys in the NH workers’ compensation system  are generally paid on a contingency fee basis (percentage of any future recovery). They may alternatively be paid by the insurance company after a successful hearing. Thus, in most cases, workers do not need to pay any fees up-front.

At Manning & Zimmerman Law, we are proud to fight for the rights of workers who have suffered workplace injuries. It is essential that you have experienced legal representation from the onset of your case through litigation. Big insurance companies have lawyers looking out for their interests and you should too! For a free consultation with our NH workers’ compensation attorneys, call (603) 671-3156, send us an email to info@MZLawNH.com, or use the “contact us” or chat feature on our website.

Experienced.  Knowledgeable.  Personally Committed to Justice.

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Injured Workers: Don’t Overlook Third-Party Actions

Workers’ compensation insurance is required of employers to protect an injured employee while shielding employers from a lawsuit. In return, injured workers can file a claim to help with medical costs, disability benefits, lost wages, and death benefits.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, more than 2.9 million workers were injured in the workplace in 2016, and 5,190 died from those injuries [download full report]. More than 30 percent of workers required time off because of an injury, and workplace injuries cost employees, employers, and insurance companies more than $250 billion a year.

Workers’ Compensation Lawyers Discuss Third-Party Liability Claims

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If a workplace injury is caused by defective equipment, manufacturers can be liable.

Many people think that workers’ compensation is their only source of benefits if they have an on-the-job injury. While workers’ compensation is provided without regard to fault on the employee or employer’s part, there are situations where a negligent third party might be held responsible. Called third-party claims, this legal action allows injured employees to seek additional compensation from the negligent party. There is a movement underway to cut workers’ compensation benefits in many states. As a result, a third-party claim may be critical to achieving full financial recovery from a devastating work injury.

Here’s an example: Let’s say a gravel truck driver working for one company backs over and severely injures a construction site worker employed by a second company. The accident investigation shows the trucking company disabled the backup warning horn on the truck. While the workers’ compensation insurance for the construction worker’s company would still cover medical bills and lost time at work, the construction worker might have an additional claim against the trucking company for disabling the horn.

Other types of third-party claims include:

  • Equipment or manufacturer defects: When equipment malfunctions and causes an injury, the manufacturer may be held accountable.
  • Improper safety practices: An employee may work for one employer on a job involving other companies (as described above). If the second company should have and did not follow proper safety guidelines, it may be held liable.
  • Premises liability: An injury sustained by a worker on someone else’s property as a result of a known danger. This may result in a third-party liability claim.

Bottom line, workers’ compensation is limited. It does not cover non-economic or punitive damages. Big bills can stack up quickly. If recklessness or negligence caused the injury, third-party claims might be one more path to justice.

Because these are often complicated legal issues, your best bet if injured at work – no matter how straightforward it looks – is to contact a personal injury lawyer at Manning & Zimmerman Law.

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Contact Experienced NH Workers’ Compensation Attorneys for a Free Consultation

Have you or a loved one been injured at work? If so, it is essential that you have competent legal representation from the onset of your case through litigation. Big insurance companies have lawyers looking out for their interests and you should too!

For a free consultation, contact the NH injury attorneys at the Law Office of Manning & Zimmerman PLLC. We may be reached at (603) 239-2315 or by email at info@MZLawNH.com. We may also be contacted by using the “contact us” or chat feature on our website.

Experienced.  Knowledgeable.  Personally Committed to Justice.

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The NH injury attorneys at Manning & Zimmerman Law invite you to subscribe to our newsletter. You can also follow us on Twitter.

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Opiate Addiction Treatment for Injured Workers

Suffering Injuries on the Job

NH workers' compensation attorneysThe NH workers’ compensation attorneys at Manning & Zimmerman Law have represented hundreds of New Hampshire men and women who have been hurt at their place of work. Often these are highly skilled workers with years of experience. Their hard work has allowed them to earn a good living with the hope of someday enjoying a well-deserved retirement.

Suffering an injury at work, especially an injury requiring surgery and a long recovery period, can be financially devastating. When workers are injured during the course of their employment, they are entitled to compensation. The workers’ compensation system has been the law in New Hampshire for more than 100 years.

One of the essential benefits provided to injured workers is the entitlement to have reasonable, necessary, and related medical treatment paid for by the employer’s insurance carrier. During treatment and rehabilitation, workers experiencing significant pain may be prescribed painkillers, and often this means opiate-based medications.

Use of Opiates to Treat Pain

Even if a worker is taking this type of medication for the first time, the worker may develop an addiction to these very powerful drugs. The science of addiction is such that opiates can change a person’s brain chemistry, leading them to crave these medications. Tragically, some workers who have been injured and are treated with opiate painkillers develop an addiction and begin a downward spiral.

In recent years, New Hampshire has seen the deaths of hundreds of our citizens resulting from opiate overdoses. This has been the subject of national attention, and far too many individuals and families have experienced the tragedy of losing a loved one to the disease of addiction. To hold the manufacturers of these highly addictive drugs responsible, the New Hampshire Attorney General filed a lawsuit against an opiate manufacturer in August 2017. The charges include that the manufacturer “engaged in a long-running campaign of deception to create and sustain a market for its opioids.”

Resources Available for the Treatment of Addiction

The New Hampshire judicial branch has developed a Drug Court that links offenders to treatment facilities. Cities and towns are creating “safe houses” at fire stations, including in Manchester and Nashua. And organizations such as Hope for New Hampshire Recovery and many others are working tirelessly to help victims of addiction.

Fortunately, for injured workers who have developed an addiction to opiates prescribed to treat an injury, there is hope. Their employer’s workers’ compensation insurance carrier can be held responsible for the cost of addiction rehabilitation in many circumstances. Injured workers who develop an opioid addiction should speak with an experienced attorney about their options for treatment and care. The earlier an attorney becomes involved, the more likely they will be able to assist with getting the care needed.

Contact Experienced NH Workers’ Compensation Attorneys

Workers are often worried about how they are going to pay for an attorney. Attorneys in the workers’ compensation system in New Hampshire are generally paid on a contingency fee basis (a percentage of any future recovery). They may alternatively be paid by the insurance company after a successful hearing. Thus, in most cases, workers do not need to pay any fees up-front.

At Manning & Zimmerman Law, we are proud to fight for the rights of workers who have suffered workplace injuries. It is essential that you have experienced legal representation from the onset of your case through litigation. Big insurance companies have lawyers looking out for their interests and you should too! For a free consultation with our NH workers’ compensation attorneys, call (603) 624-7200, send us an email to info@MZLawNH.com, or use the “contact us” or chat feature on our website.

Experienced.  Knowledgeable.  Personally Committed to Justice.

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We invite you to subscribe to our newsletter. You can also follow us on Twitter.

Maureen Manning :: Manning & Zimmerman PLLC

Let’s Not Forget New Hampshire’s Workers

NH Workers’ Compensation Attorney Discusses Proposed Changes to Law

In 2013, New Hampshire workers suffered 40,000 on the job injuries. Fortunately, most of these injuries were minor, requiring minimal medical care and no lost time from work. Counted among these 40,000 injuries, however, were 8 fatalities, 34 amputations, 58 electrical shocks, more than 1,000 fractured bones, and 70 vision or hearing losses.

Legislation is currently being debated in the State House to address workers’ compensation insurance premiums and the rates charged by the doctors who examine and treat injured workers. Certainly, as an employer, I am interested in workers’ compensation premiums. However, the proposed legislation is complex and will require significant study. It is fair for the legislature to scrutinize what medical providers are being paid as compared to reimbursement under other scenarios. In doing so, however, as a NH workers’ compensation attorney, I implore the legislature to not forget the injured workers our laws are intended to protect.

In my experience as a NH workers’ compensation attorney representing injured workers for nearly 30 years, I have witnessed the physical, mental and economic struggles that follow what are often catastrophic injuries. It is, in many instances, the worst experience of a worker’s life. They are hurt, unable to work, and devastated that they cannot support their families on 60% of their average weekly wage as determined by our workers’ compensation laws. For those who are hard at work earning a decent living, and then suffer an injury requiring medical treatment, such a sudden decrease in income is difficult to absorb. At that point, their primary focus is getting healthy and returning to work as quickly as possible, and our workers’ compensation laws are in place to help them achieve that goal.

Medical Treatment for Injured Workers

Competent and prompt medical treatment often means the difference between a good recovery and a negative one. New Hampshire’s medical doctors, hospitals, and physical therapy centers work hard to return injured workers to the condition they were in before being injured, allowing for a quick return to work. They play a very important role in the rehabilitation of workers stricken with back and neck injuries and cumulative trauma injuries, such as carpal tunnel syndrome and other repetitive motion injuries. If the injured worker cannot return to work, but still has some work capacity, the system provides them with vocational assistance.

For the good of all involved, the legislature should not pass any laws adversely impacting an injured worker’s access to necessary medical care – the care that will get them better and back to work. It is vitally important that our legislators closely examine all proposed changes to our workers’ compensation laws with the primary objective of supporting and helping to protect the workers who are the backbone of our state’s economy. They deserve nothing less.

 

Information About Workers’ Compensation “Independent” Medical Exams

workers' compensation lawyerHave you received notice of an exam scheduled by your employer or their workers’ compensation insurance company? If so, you will need to attend this exam.  You might not want to go for any number of reasons. However, the law requires that you attend or you will jeopardize receiving your benefits.

If for some reason you cannot make the appointment, it is critical to reschedule it.  Not showing up for a scheduled exam will hurt any work injury claim. A workers’ compensation lawyer at the Law Office of Manning & Zimmerman PLLC can help reschedule an exam.  The doctor will write a report. They will send it to the employer, the insurance company, and your lawyer. It is important to cooperate and provide detailed and accurate information.

Seeing a new medical provider can often cause some concern. This is especially true since the exam is with someone who is not your own doctor.  But there are things you can and should do to make the exam as useful as possible.  First and foremost is to give the examiner a solid and honest understanding of your medical problem.  Be honest with the doctor and do not try to hide information that you think might hurt your case. This includes prior accidents or illnesses.  Make sure to let the examiner know how your medical problem affects you.  Do not exaggerate. Be prepared to provide full information on how your injury impacts your life.

Most of the medical providers who perform these exams conduct a great number of them. The doctor may appear friendly. However, always keep in mind that they are paid by the employer or insurance company. They are not trying to help you! In such a situation, it is easy to forget important details of the significant impact of your medical problems. Preparing a list of how you are impacted helps you to remember important details. This will help you to provide accurate and important information about the impact of your injury or disease. It’s OK to bring your list into the appointment and refer to it.

It is well known that various medical problems impact people differently. This is why it is so important to detail how the symptoms of your medical problem affect you.  Tell the doctor how the medical problem impacts your daily life. This includes if you are unable to work, and why the injury would not allow you to perform your prior, or any, work duties.

The doctor will evaluate your description of symptoms, signs they can observe, and possibly the results of tests. The symptoms are your description of how the medical problem impacts you. They are not given as much consideration in evaluating your medical problem as they are based on your description. Signs are things that a doctor can observe. They are given more weight in determining a disability.

Remember, the doctors are not trying to help you! They are looking to see if the description of your problems match with records they have reviewed and their observations. The doctor will be evaluating you the entire time. They will look to see if you exaggerate your symptoms. They will observe how you walk, stand, and sit. And they might observe how you climb onto an exam table. Don’t overstate your symptoms at this exam, but be sure to not hide them. If something is hard to do or you’re in pain or discomfort, let the doctor know.

It is permissible to bring a family member, friend, or someone from your lawyer’s office to the appointment. It is, in fact, advisable to do so. Having someone with you can help you focus on providing accurate and detailed information to the doctor. They will also be a witness to how thoroughly you were evaluated.  There are many times that doctors performing these evaluations are thorough and provide accurate and helpful information for your case. There are other times, however, that they do not fully evaluate you or get full information about your symptoms. It is helpful to have your witness keep track of how much time the doctor spends with you. Having a witness can help your claim if the report from the evaluation is not helpful.

During the evaluation, the doctor may suggest testing.  You have a right to refuse testing. There are, however, times when tests can help your case.  If you have concerns, let the doctor know you want to think about undergoing the test. It is best to talk to your workers’ compensation lawyer about the potential need for, and impact of, such testing.

After the evaluation is completed, you and any witness to the evaluation should make some notes. It is useful to document how much time was spent with the doctor during the evaluation. Jotting down some notes right after the exam can help you remember what was done and said.  Your workers’ compensation lawyer will want to know how you think the exam went. It is good to check in with their office shortly after the exam is completed.

For more information, including two very in-depth videos about workers’ compensation law, click here. Should you have any questions or concerns, be sure to speak with a workers’ compensation lawyer, preferably before the exam.

Finding the right New Hampshire workers’ compensation lawyer

You may need a workers’ compensation lawyer experienced in workers’ compensation law to represent you. There are numerous deadlines and countless rules and regulations that must be met. They require you, your employer, your doctor, and the workers’ compensation insurance carrier to take certain action. The insurance carriers have access to experienced and knowledgeable lawyers to work for them. You should consider doing the same. At the Law Office of Manning & Zimmerman PLLC, your initial consultation with a workers’ compensation lawyer is always free.

The firm’s legal, medical, and extensive trial experience is utilized to obtain full and fair compensation. This includes compensation for pain and suffering, lost wages, medical bills and permanent injury. We may be reached at (603) 624-7200 or by email at info@MZLawNH.com. We may also be reached by using the “contact us” or chat feature on our website.

The NH workers compensation lawyer at Manning & Zimmerman Law invite you to subscribe to our newsletter. We are also on Facebook and you can follow us on Twitter.

Experienced.  Knowledgeable.  Personally Committed to Justice.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Workers’ Compensation – What You Need to Know

workers' compensationWorkers’ compensation law is designed to help injured workers and their families. It was enacted more than 100 hundred years ago. Before the workers’ compensation system, injured workers had trouble getting needed medical treatment, weekly wage replacement, or any vocational retraining assistance. The rules that govern this law can be complicated and your employer and their insurance carrier have lawyers to pursue and protect their interests, not yours. You can receive a free consultation from the experienced workers’ compensation attorneys at Manning & Zimmerman Law. We strongly recommend that you do so to learn about your rights and benefits before it is too late.

If your injury claim has been denied, you should see an attorney right away. You will need to fight for the benefits that the law provides for you. You must request a hearing at the New Hampshire Department of Labor within 18 months of the initial denial or you may be barred from any benefits. This can be devastating, so do not delay getting legal advice if you have been hurt at work and require medical treatment and/or have been restricted from working as a result of your injury. We would be happy to speak with you and answer any questions you may have.

Finding the right New Hampshire workers’ compensation attorney

You may need a New Hampshire attorney who is experienced in workers’ compensation law to assist you in your claim. There are numerous deadlines and countless rules and regulations that must be met. They require you, your employer, your doctor, and the workers’ compensation insurance carrier to take certain action. The insurance carriers have access to experienced and knowledgeable lawyers to work for them. You should consider doing the same. At the Law Office of Manning & Zimmerman PLLC, your initial consultation with a New Hampshire workers’ comp attorney is always free.

The firm’s legal, medical and extensive trial experience is utilized to obtain full and fair compensation for pain and suffering, lost wages, medical bills and permanent injury.

The NH work injury lawyers at Manning & Zimmerman Law invite you to subscribe to our newsletter. We are also on Facebook and you can follow us on Twitter.

Experienced.  Knowledgeable.  Personally Committed to Justice.