Oot & Stratton

A T T O R N E Y S - A T - L A W

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Knowledgeable counsel

Why would I need an attorney to represent me?

You need an attorney because Injuries at work are complicated and can be financially devastating. The Workers' Compensation Law of the State of New York is hundreds of pages in length, with thousands of cases interpreting it stretching back over the last 90 years.  The insurance company and your employer each have many attorneys available to them and they simply don't have your interests in mind.  Also, just a few short years ago a worker injured in New York could rely on the WCB to at least try to look out for his or her interests:  No More.  The WCB in New York has decided that the worker is going to have to protect himself or herself.  The fact of the matter is that we have trouble convincing the Board to schedule cases for our clients, representing yourself would seem to be an

impossible task.

Do I have to pay the attorney?

Sure, nothing is free and you ought to be suspicious of anything that is described as free, but you never directly pay your attorney in a Workers' Compensation claim. You pay only if we are successful in securing or maintaining benefits for you. Then we will petition the Judge to award us a fee and this fee would be deducted directly from the money you have coming to you.  This is called a contingent fee and you've probably heard about them.  We try very hard to discuss fee requests with you before we make them and frankly, complaints  are rare because the fees in Workers' Compensation are really quite modest and subject to the approval of a Judge.  Fees in Social Security and Personal Injury are also contingent, but have their own rules.

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Bear in mind that your use of this website does not create an attorney - client relationship with this firm.  To become a client, you must have an interview in our office and we must agree to represent you.  Also, answers to questions have to be taken in their context.  In other words, what is said here may not apply to your situation and your reliance upon generalized responses to questions would be a mistake, perhaps even a serious mistake. You should seek the advice of an attorney in any of the matters discussed.  Remember too that our firm only offers representation in New York State.

You can contact us with any questions you

may have.

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This is one of the most difficult situations you will face in your life, not merely in this claim and if you are out of work for more than a month or so, you will face it.  Once the insurance carrier or your employer have you examined by what they like to call an "IME" meaning an "impartial medical examiner", unless you have already had a hearing and the carrier or employer  have already been directed to make payments to you, they can pretty much do what they want.  People that go through an "IME" learn pretty quickly that there isn't anything at all impartial about it.  If you are in this situation and you haven't already hired an attorney to represent you, you had better make it the first thing you do after you read this.  You need help and you are going to have to present your case to a Judge and frankly, unless you are an attorney yourself and one with extensive experience in the comp law, you are going to fail.  The best way to get the kind of help you are going to need is with an attorney with a lot of experience before the Board.

I was injured at work because my employer removed all the guards from the machine I work on in order to make it go faster.  Three fingers on my left hand were amputated when I reached into the machine and it tripped.  Now, I have terrible pain, I am unable to work, and my employer has replaced me, how much will I get when I sue him.  

My employer and the insurance company have told me that I don't need a lawyer, that I can handle it myself.  I called the Workers' Compensation Board and they told me that I don't need an attorney and that they no longer keep a list of attorneys, what's up with that?  

I have been collecting Workers' Compensation for a recent injury and just because I recently saw one of the insurance company doctors, all of a sudden my payments have stopped and the insurance company or my employer say that they aren't going to pay my medical bills anymore what am I supposed to do?  

You will get nothing because you can't sue your employer in New York.  You can only collect Workers' Compensation and since your injury is limited to your hand, you face even greater difficulty if you are unable to return to employment within a year after the injury or after the last surgery.  Limb Injuries are treated quite differently.

Your employer says that you don't need a lawyer? Take a good look around you.  Your employer has a bunch of attorneys working for him.  The Insurance carrier has vast numbers of attorneys working for them.  The Workers' Compensation Board has at least 70 attorneys working for them and all the Judges and Conciliators at the Board are attorneys.  Think about it, why wouldn't they want you to get a lawyer?  Under these circumstances, why would anyone friendly to you suggest that you could handle this by yourself?  The answer is that if you don't get an attorney, you won't even know when you've been had.  You become easy pickings for the carrier and for your employer. It is hard to imagine why anyone at the Workers' Compensation Board would discourage anyone from obtaining the advice of counsel, but they don't even maintain a list of attorneys that regularly practice before the Board for you to use.