Working Together Is Key
When working to get injured workers, our attorneys rely heavily on client cooperation to successfully litigate claims. Employers and their powerful insurance companies often deny otherwise legitimate claims so it is vitally important the client and attorney help craft the strongest case possible to try to recover benefits. For those reasons and others, clients must be actively involved in the claims process with our attorneys to secure pertinent documents, establish time frames, and help determine what the employer knew and when. Cooperation between clients and attorneys helps create a solid relationship, verifies claims, and acquires the necessary documentation to help advance a claim. If you have been injured, give yourself the best chance to successfully resolve your claim by keeping these principles in mind.
When injured overseas, workers need to be forward thinking about the claims process. From the very onset of a claim, employees can have access to important documents to help their Defense Base Act attorney substantiate and verify a claim.
Important documentation created after an injury includes:
Notice of injury to employers – Injured workers should immediately report their workplace accident to their employer. Employees can fill out LS-201, Notice of Employee’s Injury or Death form to inform their employers about an injury
Medical reports – After informing employers about a workplace injury, employees should seek immediate medical attention to document the condition. Employees need to request copies of all their medical records before leaving their overseas assignment, otherwise it could be very difficult to produce copies of these vital reports
Incident reports – After a workplace injury, employers will usually generate an incident report following the notice of injury by the employee. Incident reports help lock down time lines and help prove employers were aware of an injury
Clinical records – Follow up treatment at a clinic or other physician’s office further helps to document the extent of an injury. Changes in condition, especially negative ones, can have a huge impact on how seriously employers, insurance companies, and courts take Defense Base Act injury claims
Correspondence With Employers
Employees need to be able to produce any correspondence between themselves and the employer surrounding an injury. Substantial amounts of important information can be drawn from documented conversations between parties, and attorneys rely on this information to verify claims and convince claims adjusters and judges the claim is legitimate. Types of correspondence with employers includes:
● Notice of injury – Employees need to report an injury as soon as possible and any replies can help affirm the employer knew of the injury. This can be by email or by providing a hand-written report
● Permission to seek medical treatment – Injured workers may be able to show their employer was aware of an injury and granted leave for medical treatment
● Arranging transportation – Sometimes, injured employees may need to leave their assignment altogether and return to their home country to receive treatment.
Cooperation between client and attorney will be an ongoing process throughout the claim. Attorneys will rely on much more than just notice of injury reports, incident reports, and medical reports. Other important documents clients will be expected to help produce include:
● Email correspondence – Exchanges pertaining to an accident, injury, or being sent back home for medical treatment are often discussed in email and can greatly aid in the claims process
● Employment contacts – Producing employment contacts help calculate lost wages in the event employees must miss time from work. Scope of employment and employment duration are also helpful. Employment contacts could also provide witness names
How Does Cooperation Move The Claims Process Along?
Several milestones need to be met when pursuing Defense Base Act injury [Main DBA page] claims. At every step, clients will need to furnish their attorney with key pieces of information and documentation to substantiate a claim.
Clients need to cooperate with attorneys during:
● The verification process – Attorneys need documentation from their clients to show an incident did take place, medical treatment was sought, and notice was given to the employer
● Documentation process – Several pieces of documentation, including medical evidence of treatment, proof of medical advice for continued treatment, medical documentation of work limits, and documented professional opinions, are vital to the claims process
● Preservation – After verifying and documenting a workplace injury, attorneys can file necessary paperwork to preserve the worker’ rights to benefits under the Defense Base Act
Importance Of Cooperation In Litigation
The claims process under the Defense Base Act is set up to try to resolve claims before litigation becomes an option. Once claims are filed, claimant attorneys and insurance adjusters may hold informal discussions to reach an amicable solution to a case. While not required, parties may meet before a District Director to help resolve claims. District Directors hear both sides, examine evidence, and make recommendations based on their perception of the claim. While the recommendations are not binding, they can go a long way to convincing insurance claims adjusters to provide benefits.
Claims may ultimately be heard before an Administrative Law Judge who will hand down a binding ruling by which both sides must abide. During this process, both sides will need to produce their documentation, provide names of witnesses, conduct depositions, send and receive interrogatories, and ultimately plead their case before a judge. Without the cooperation from clients procuring all the necessary documentation to make a case, claims may not stand a very good chance of success. The cooperation between client and attorney is what essentially makes or breaks a case and clients are strongly encouraged to give their attorneys all the tools necessary to win claims.
Defense Base Act Lawyers
If you or a loved one suffered a workplace injury while overseas, contact Barnett, Lerner, Karsen, Frankel & Castro, P.A. for a free consultation about your case.
Our attorneys have the experienced and dedication necessary to helping injured workers get the benefits they need and provide for their families.