Q: What is Workers’ Compensation?
A: Under Kentucky law, when you are injured on the job, your only remedy may be to receive workers’ compensation benefits. The law related to workers compensation in Kentucky specifies that an injured worker is entitled to receive temporary benefits while they are off from work recovering from an injury. And an award for permanent disability may be provided if a doctor concludes that a work injury has caused a long-term disability to the worker. The employer should pay those benefits, along with any costs for reasonable and necessary medical care for the injured worker. Unfortunately, not all employers are helpful to injured workers and in some cases they are down right hostile to the idea of paying claims. In order to insure that your rights are protected, you should speak to our workers compensation attorneys as soon as possible after an injury. There are important forms which must be completed appropriately and filed in a timely manner in order to protect your rights in workers’ compensation claims. You will also need to select a doctor of your choice – don’t be steered to a doctor selected by the employer or the insurance company. Bottom line – waiting before talking to an attorney after you have been injured on the job could be a very costly mistake.
Q: Who Pays for Workers Comp Insurance?
A: Generally, all employers in Kentucky must have workers’ compensation coverage for workers injured on the job. If an employer fails to provide that coverage, they can be liable directly for injuries sustained by a worker, and the Kentucky Uninsured Fund may be able to help with the payment of benefits.
Q: Can I settle a Workers’ Comp claim?
A: Of course. A workers’ compensation case, like any legal case, can be settled. Settlement is encouraged in order to avoid the costs and time to a client to have to formally proceed with a claim filed before the Board. However, any settlement must be fair and properly factor in the value of the client’s injuries, their likely future needs, and any medical expenses that must be paid. Only a lawyer who handles these cases on a regular basis can help you calculate the value of your claim and help you decide if a settlement is reasonable to accomplish your objectives.
Q: Do I need a personal injury attorney?
A: Sometimes yes and sometimes no. But it never hurts to ask! Consultations with our firm are free. Depending on the facts about the injury and how much harm you or a loved one has suffered, the attorney should provide you with good, fair and honest advice about your needs.
Q: What is Personal Injury Protection (P.I.P.)?
A: PIP, also called “no fault insurance” or “basic reparations benefits,” is the first $10,000 in available medical coverage for folks in an automobile collision. Generally, it is paid for by the insurance company for injured drivers, and not by the liability carrier. However, don’t feel badly for your insurance company – they will get their money back from the insurance company for the driver that hurt you. There are documents that must be filed in a timely way in order for you to qualify for coverage so you should talk to a lawyer as soon as possible after a collision. Learn more about Personal Injury Protection on our blog.
Q: If I get hurt at work, what should I do?
A: First, inform your supervisor immediately upon injuring yourself or suspecting an injury. Make sure to get the name and position of the person you reported the injury to. You should also ask to fill out a “first report of injury” form that the employer is required to complete and keep for the workers’ compensation board. Then, seek treatment as soon as possible, preferably that day or the next. Often an employer will try to “steer” you to a pre-selected doctor. In most cases that is not advisable and you will want to see your own doctor. Again, a lawyer with experience in these matters can help guide you through the process and there is never any fee for a consultation or unless we can recover for you.
Q: Should I accept a settlement or go before a jury?
A: That question is never easily answered. You should, as a general rule, accept a fair and reasonable settlement. However, determining what is fair and reasonable can often be difficult and only skilled lawyers who have handled and tried cases can give you good advice on whether an offer is reasonable or whether filing suit and bringing the case to a jury is the better option. Ninety-percent of cases settle because litigation is time consuming and expensive for both sides (although with a personal injury lawyer you don’t pay the costs unless there is a recovery). Many people also don’t like the idea of having to go to court. Bottom line? Your lawyer should assist you in making that kind of decision – and remember, only lawyers with years of experience having handled thousands of cases and who have actually tried cases, are likely to have the knowledge to help you decide how to conclude your claim.
Q: What kind of personal injury cases does Cooper and Friedman handle?
A: Our law firm handles virtually every kind of case which involves injury to a person, from car collisions to police misconduct and workers’ compensation. Please refer to our home page for a more detailed outline of the kinds of claims we handle. However, one thing about our firm that separates us from others is that we are able to handle a broader variety of cases than other firms. Many of these firms only handle car accidents or slip and fall cases and use paralegals, rather than attorneys, to do much of the work for you.
Q: How will your firm prepare me if we go to trial?
A: We will thoroughly prepare you for trial should that become necessary. Preparation starts from the day we file suit. We will talk to you about the process and prepare you and all witnesses thoroughly during one-on-one sessions. These will insure that your case is presented properly and in the best possible way to the jury.
Q: What compensation can I expect to get in a personal injury lawsuit?
A: There is no “set” amount of compensation in Kentucky for a personal injury. Compensation should be related to the extent of the harm suffered. We have recovered millions of dollars for injured individuals in jury trials and through settlement. Some of those cases resulted in seven figure verdicts and some in seven figure settlements. But, the truth is, depending on the harm compensation can range from a few thousand dollars to millions of dollars, depending on the extent of the harm caused by the person against whom a claim is filed or pursued.
Q: How do I know who is at fault for my injury?
A: In a car wreck, generally the police report will assist in making that determination. In other cases, more than one individual or company may be responsible and so it may take an investigation by an attorney to find out who or what company is responsible. That is one of the reasons you should see an attorney as soon as possible after an injury – to allow that attorney enough time to investigate the claim and to determine the individuals or companies who should be sued or who are obligated to compensate you for your injuries. The statute of limitations in Kentucky for many kinds of these cases is only one year – you don’t want to bring a case to a lawyer with only a few weeks to spare if you can avoid it because that many not be enough time to conduct a full investigation.
Q: What should I do if I am injured from an accident?
A: If the claim involves a car collision and if you are able, take pictures of the damage to the vehicles, get the name, address and insurance information of the other driver, and try to identify any witnesses. The more information you can bring to the attorney at the beginning of a case, the better off you are.
Q: How much time do I have to file a legal claim?
A: This varies by claim. In Kentucky, the general negligence statute is 1 year from the date of injury or from when the injured person knew or should have known of their injury. The same for medical malpractice cases. Car cases generally have a two year statute of limitations which can be extended in some circumstances by payment of no fault benefits. Workers’ compensation claims also generally have a two year statute, but that runs from the date of the last wage payment (if any). We always advise folks, however, to get to a lawyer as soon as possible because all claims are time sensitive. It takes a good deal of investigation to make sure the claim is handled and brought up correctly. The sooner the lawyer can start work on a claim, the faster the client can expect to be compensated.
Q: What should I bring when I meet with a lawyer?
A: Bring as much as you can – all paperwork and medical bills (accident reports, letters from an insurance company, etc.) and anything else you think might be related to the matter. The more information, the better.
Q: What should I expect the first time I meet with a personal injury attorney?
A: You should expect to spend at least an hour talking directly to the attorney who you want to handle the case. Many firms use paralegals or secretaries to meet with clients and get intake information. We don’t. We believe that the practice of law is a profession and that each client is entitled to develop a professional relationship with their attorney. That attorney, to do their job, must meet with you and get down as many facts as possible before beginning work on the case.
Q: I have a personal injury attorney but my case is not progressing. Can I call someone else?
A: Yes, you are always free to contact another lawyer. You are the “master” of your case, not the lawyer. Note, however, if a lawyer has put in a lot of time on a case and you choose to switch, he or she may be entitled to some portion of the attorney fee if/when your claim concludes.
Q: Can I contact an insurance company directly to save on lawyer’s fees?
Some folks do this. But, it is generally not advisable. People without medical training can’t operate on themselves. The same is true with legal matters – how can you know, as a non-lawyer, what the case is worth? If you are being told everything? If you are being treated carefully? Most will tell you that the fee charged by a lawyer on a contingency is well worth paying because the lawyer will be able to obtain a higher dollar value result for you than you could on your own. And, of course, legal counsel is often needed to make sure that documents you will be sent, to release your claim, are appropriate. Bottom line – if you are hurt, call a lawyer. Don’t try to deal with the insurance company, which has no interest in telling you your rights, yourself.
Q: How long will my legal case take?
A: Cases can take a few months to a few years, depending on the complexity of the case.
Q: How much trial experience do you have?
A: Every lawyer at the Cooper and Friedman law office has trial experience. Unlike many other law firms that advertise for personal injury, our lawyers have tried cases in state and federal court and have achieved extraordinary results (one case resulted in a $6,200,000 jury verdict) for our clients. You can be confident that if you choose us as your lawyer, and should the case need to go to trial, we know how to present your case effectively and in the best possible light for the jury.
Q: Do you handle criminal matters?
A: As general rule, no.
Q: How are fees paid?
A: All fees are paid on a contingency fee – meaning, if we don’t recover for you by winning or settling your claim with your approval, you owe us nothing. Fees can vary between cases – for example, in workers’ compensation case, fees are “capped” by law and are lower than what is usually charged by other lawyers for handling other forms of cases. So, really, you have nothing to lose and everything to gain by hiring a lawyer if you have suffered injury at the hands of another.