If your claim is denied, you will not be able to fix it by yourself. The only thing you can do is hire a good workers’ compensation lawyer to fight the denial.
A lot of lawyers advertise that they handle workers’ compensation cases. But how is someone who does not know any lawyers supposed to pick the right one?
Picking the right workers’ compensation lawyer in North Carolina is actually pretty easy. You need to hire a Board-Certified Specialist in workers’ compensation law to represent you.
In the year 2000, the North Carolina State Bar established a program to certify experienced workers’ compensation lawyers as Board-Certified Specialists in workers’ compensation law. A Board-Certified Specialist in workers’ compensation law is a lawyer who has a tremendous amount of experience handling workers’ compensation cases. He or she has taken additional continuing legal education classes every year, far more than the minimum required to maintain a law license, and those classes have been in the area of workers’ compensation and related legal issues.
A certified specialist has also passed a six-hour, 300-question bar exam just on workers’ compensation law. In addition, the certified specialist has obtained numerous recommendations from his peers in the Bar who assert that he is in fact a person with specialist-level knowledge, skills and ability. In other words, a certified specialist has been closely and carefully vetted by the North Carolina State Bar to make sure that he or she is indeed a true specialist in that area of the law.
Bob Bollinger immediately applied for the specialization program when it was announced in 2000. Bob had been representing injured workers since 1991 and had already tried at least 65 workers’ compensation cases to a final decision. He met the requirements to sit for the board certification exam and took the exam in November of 2000. He passed the exam and was certified as a specialist in workers’ compensation law on November 17, 2000, in the very first class of workers’ compensation specialists to be certified. He has been re-certified every five years since that initial certification.
If you need to hire a lawyer to fight the worker’s compensation denial, start by looking for a Board-Certified Specialist in workers’ compensation law. Bob Bollinger is one of those specialists, so you need look no further. But if you want to see the entire list of certified specialists, you can go to the North Carolina State Bar website and look at the Specialists Directory posted there. What you will find is that in the Charlotte area, there are only about 10 lawyers who are certified as specialists in workers’ compensation law who handle cases for injured workers.
There are some other certified specialists in Charlotte, but they only represent the employers and insurance companies and will not represent an injured worker. So, you do have a choice of a number of certified specialist lawyers in the Charlotte-Mecklenburg area. You should limit your lawyer search to those who are in fact Board-Certified Specialists in workers’ compensation law.
A specialist lawyer, upon taking you on as a client in a denied case, will request a hearing to challenge the denial. After the hearing request goes in, the Industrial Commission will order the parties to have a mediated settlement conference. About 70 percent of all cases settle at the mediated settlement conference, but the remaining 30 percent or so do proceed to a hearing. Bob Bollinger has litigated well over 100 workers’ compensation final court decisions from the Industrial Commission since he was first certified as a specialist, and he is more than happy to take a denied case to court to fight for what’s right for you as his client.
When you look for a lawyer to help you on your denied case, it is extremely important that you find one who is willing to go to court to help you. You do not want to choose a law firm that is essentially a settlement mill where they settle not 70 percent of the cases they handle, but approximately 99 percent of the cases they handle. The insurance companies know who these lawyers are. If they know that the lawyer you chose is not going to be willing to take your case to court and make the insurance company pay full value with the court decision, then that insurance company is less likely to offer you the best deal on a settlement.
Think about it – if they know your lawyer is afraid to fight for you in court, what incentive does the insurance company have to pay you the best deal in order to avoid a bad outcome in court? Yes, you might get a settlement quicker, but it may well be less money than you would have gotten if you had chosen a lawyer who was willing to use the powerful legal tool of “going to court to fight for my client.”
If your case has been denied, the bottom line is this: You have to hire a lawyer to help you. You should hire a lawyer who is a Board-Certified Specialist in workers’ compensation law, and who has a track record of winning cases in court at the Industrial Commission.