Anyone who has been injured on the job knows how terrible acute pain from an injury can be. The initial injury is bad enough, not to mention the discomfort that can occur during the healing process. But sometimes, the pain doesn’t stop.
Complex Regional Pain Syndrome
Anyone can sustain an injury that will result in Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS) but researchers are unclear about why one patient will develop this condition and another will not.
What is known, according to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, is that in more than 90% of all cases, there is a clear history of trauma which triggers the condition. The most common injuries that trigger CRPS include:
- soft tissue injury
- limb immobilization
The reality is though that anything can cause CRPS from something as small as a needle stick to a serious injury such as a crush injury.
Pain has often been described as a “burning” sensation or constant “pins and needles”. The pain may be localized to the area injured or it could spread down an entire section of the body. It’s not just “invisible pain”, patients with CRPS may also develop:
- color changes in the skin
- changes in skin texture
- changes in skin temperature
- abnormal sweating patterns in the affected area
- changes to hair and nail growth
- decreased movement in the affected part of the body
Treatment may include an exercise and physical therapy program, occupational therapy, psychotherapy, medications, sympathetic nerve block, spinal cord stimulation, surgical sympathectomy, and other forms of neural stimulation.
Each of these treatments on their own can be quite expensive and it’s typically for the serious nature of the disorder to disrupt a worker’s ability to continue in their job. So how is an injured worker supposed to obtain the treatments they need for a medical condition caused by an on the job injury? Workers’ Compensation.
A Workers’ Compensation Claim May Help
Workers’ compensation insurance coverage is required by almost all employers in the state of New York. This insurance policy is designed to protect the financial interests of a worker after they’ve sustained an on the job injury, regardless of who was at fault. This means that with few exceptions such as drug and alcohol use, the worker could have contributed to the accident which ultimately caused them harm and they should still be eligible to receive benefits.
There are steps that need to be taken after being hurt on the job, which include:
- Seeking medical care as soon as possible.
- Notifying the employer of the accident and the resulting injuries.
- Filing a claim with the NY Workers’ Compensation Board.
- Obtaining a primary medical report from a doctor.
Yet every year, injured workers do everything they need to do to obtain coverage and despite this, nearly half of all workers’ compensation claims are denied outright.
Sadly, insurance companies all too frequently put profit ahead of the people they are supposed to be helping. All it takes is for one small mistake to be made on the claim form and an adjuster will be required to deny the claim as part of their job. While a small mistake may quickly be remedied, the insurance company is hoping that a stressed and tired applicant will give up, saving them money.
In other cases, the injured worker’s employer may be contesting the claim, alleging that their injuries were caused by an accident outside of the workplace and therefore, uncoverable.
The bottom line is, whatever the denial reason, coverage may be difficult to obtain without the help of a knowledgeable and experienced attorney.
Other Forms Of Compensation Are Possible
In some cases, the injured worker may be able to obtain compensation through programs other than workers’ compensation. Depending on the severity of their injuries, they may be able to file for Social Security Disability benefits and Social Security Income. In addition to this, if the accident which caused their injuries was caused by another party’s negligence, they may be able to pursue a personal injury lawsuit. An attorney can help identify if these options are possible for the worker and assist them with the process of filing.
How Much Does It Cost To Hire A Lawyer?
During the process, a Workers’ Compensation Law Judge will determine a fair and reasonable fee which will then be deducted from the benefits that are received. That way, the client never has to worry about paying the firm directly.
How Soon Can I Obtain Payments?
If you are unable to return to work for 14 days or more, benefits are available from the first day and payments should start within 18 days. However, it’s not uncommon for the insurance company to say that the claim is under investigation and for the first payment to be delayed, which is why it’s beneficial to work with an attorney who can put pressure on the insurance company as soon as possible.