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The information below will teach you about your industrial accident claim. We’ll start with some of the most common mistakes we see people make in these claims in Texas. Then, we’ll use a story to give you more information about various aspects of your claim. Be sure to read it to the end to gain the most from this information.
Common Industrial Accident Claim Mistakes
Unfortunately, there are a number of mistakes that can damage or impede your claim. Please read through the mistakes listed here to prevent you from unintentionally harming your case.
Failing to Seek Medical Treatment
It may seem hard to believe, but some people don’t seek a medical evaluation after an industrial accident because they don’t realize how injured they are.
During a traumatic event, the body produces a large amount of the stress hormones adrenaline and cortisol. The purpose of these hormones is to give you the strength to survive by either fighting or fleeing. These hormones stick around in the body for hours, and are present long after the accident occurred. One of the side effects is that this hinders one’s ability to feel pain.
Since pain is our first indication of injury, it’s understandable how a heightened pain threshold could get in the way of realizing we need to get to the doctor.
That’s why it’s important to get checked out after being in an industrial accident, even if you aren’t feeling a significant amount of pain. This will safeguard your health and protect the value of your industrial accident claim.
When you get a medical exam, it creates an official record of the date and time of your visit, as well as your injuries. This will become important evidence in your claim.
If you skip the exam and lack this evidence, the insurance company may suggest that you could have been injured on a different day, in an unrelated event. Don’t give them the chance. Establish a record of your injuries by going to the doctor as soon as possible after an industrial accident.
Be Sure to Follow Your Doctor’s Treatment Plan
It’s a mistake to not take your doctor’s treatment plan seriously after leaving your exam. A lot of people forget about follow-up appointments or don’t finish medications as scheduled.
Follow-up treatment is intended to help you stay on course for recovery. It can take many forms, from things like occupational therapy appointments to medications. It may involve putting your workouts on hold for a while to do gentle stretching exercises instead.
Following instructions to avoid certain activities is as important as following instructions to do others. If you are found to have gone back to a strenuous activity before the doctor says it’s okay, this can also jeopardize your claim.
It’s vital to follow your doctor’s treatment plan during recovery, both for your health and to preserve your industrial accident claim. If you let this slide, the insurance provider responsible for paying on your claim can suggest that any snags you hit during your recovery are your own fault.
Protect your claim and your wellbeing by conscientiously following your doctor’s plan for treatment.
Don’t Give the Insurance Company a Recorded Statement
You can expect the insurance company to call you not long after the accident, asking to record your statement. Don’t make this mistake.
The insurance adjuster may make it sound as if this is your chance to tell your side of the story. They may say that giving them a statement will help you by moving your claim along.
It’s important to know that the only one who benefits when you provide a recorded statement to the insurance company is the insurance company.
What the insurance company is looking for when they ask for your statement is any information that can be used to lower the value of your claim. Did you mention that you forgot your hard hat that morning and had to borrow one of the spares in the office, for example? Can this be twisted to suggest that you are a careless employee who doesn’t follow safety protocols? That may not seem fair, but it is possible.
The best way to protect the value of your claim when the insurance company requests a recorded statement is to politely decline and hang up. You are not required to speak to them. In fact, this is a great job to hand off to your Texas industrial accident lawyers.
Waiting Too Long to Choose A Lawyer
It’s a big mistake to wait to call a lawyer. You may feel like you have plenty of time, based on the statute of limitations on filing. It’s crucial to remember, however, that the longer you wait, the less evidence your lawyer is likely to find. Accidents get cleaned up and equipment gets repaired.
Like evidence, the best time to get witness statements is also as soon after the event as possible. Memories will be sharpest and witnesses easier to find. Give your lawyers the best shot possible at building a strong case by calling them as soon as you are able.
Choosing the Wrong Lawyer for Your Industrial Accident Claim
Assuming that any lawyer can successfully take on your claim is a big mistake. Lawyers have specializations, just like doctors. Your strongest claim will be made with a lawyer who focuses on personal injury and who has handled industrial accident claims.
Going a step further, it’s important to make sure your lawyer has a successful record in the courtroom. Not all cases end up in front of juries, but it is possible. If your case goes to trial, you’re going to need a lawyer who’s been there with cases like yours.
Hiring a trial attorney may even prevent your case from having to go to trial. It’s common for insurance companies to be aware of the skilled trial lawyers in their area. When they discover your case is being handled by one of them, they may change their minds about fighting a settlement and come to the negotiating table.
No matter which direction your case goes, it’s to your advantage to hire a personal injury lawyer who has a successful track record of taking industrial accident cases to trial.
Texas Industrial Accident Client Story
The story below is intended to give you additional information about your industrial accident claim. Though the names and specifics have been changed to provide privacy for our clients, the usefulness of the information remains. Please read to the end to get as much from the information as possible.
When you’re through, please take advantage of our offer for a free legal consultation and call us to discuss your specific claim.
Late one cool February evening a few years ago, 36-year-old Deshaun Wallace tucked 3-year-old Gabrielle and 4-year-old Max into bed and drove to work. He liked his night job as a chemical loader because it gave him time with the kids during the day.
Deshaun’s wife Ashli wasn’t so fond of his job, calling it an “accident waiting to happen.” He assured her patiently that he was always careful to follow safety procedures at work.
Besides, Deshaun had a plan. Once the kids started full time school, he’d have enough seniority to switch to day shift. There was also room for advancement, which would allow Ashli to drop down to part time hours in her job as a Certified Nursing Assistant to work on her dream of running her own online business. He believed she’d come around.
“All in good time,” Deshaun said to himself, waving to the guard as he passed through the entrance at the security booth. He was a patient man, and right now he had no worries.
During Deshaun’s shift he remarked that there was a lot more activity around the distillation rooms than usual.
“The company sent in a crew from Houston to help replace the insulation on the heat transfer piping network,” his supervisor and friend Allen told him.
“Aren’t they supposed to shut down the line to do that?” Deshaun asked, looking at the small forest of ladders 20 yards away at the southeast end of the factory.
“Can’t. Got a massive shipment due out by 10 a.m. I’ve been told to ‘pull out all the stops.’ In fact, when you’re done here, I need you to go help load the tankers.”
“Roger that,” said Deshaun, returning to the distillation room. He wrapped up the last batch on his list 45 minutes later and headed back toward the warehouse.
He’d gone less than a dozen feet when a thunderous BOOM exploded through the plant. The concussion sent him sprawling to the ground, covering his head as a fire ball rolled across the ceiling, thick black smoke extending before it like the tentacles of some enormous monster.
Shouts filled the air and alarms blared. Deshawn looked up to make sure it was safe to make a break for the fire exit. As he did, he saw with horror that huge sheets of blazing insulation were falling around him. He rolled to the side but not before one of them set his pant leg ablaze and another landed on his sleeve.
Deshaun rolled and screamed, trying to get the fire out as pain tore through him. He couldn’t tell if it was working; it felt like it was climbing toward his head, but his eyes were clamped shut against the pain and he couldn’t seem to make them open.
He had lost all orientation, flailing when Allen soaked him with a fire extinguisher and dragged him out the fire exit.
Deshaun spent the next three weeks in the hospital with second- and third-degree burns over 25% of his total body surface area. He was in a lot of pain.
When he asked the doctors why the second-degree burns seemed to hurt the most, they told him it was because the nerve damage to the areas with third-degree burns cut off sensation in those areas.
Deshaun was very lucky to be alive. Three of the Houston team members were high up on the ladders and were killed in the blast. Seven others were injured, many by burns.
Even as he was grateful, Deshaun knew he had a long road ahead of him, including skin graft surgery in the next ten days for his leg. The doctors had also determined that he would not walk on that leg again, if he chose to keep his foot.
Were they for real? As if a foot is something you “choose” to keep!
He tried to calm his turbulent thoughts. He didn’t have to decide right now. He had some time. He had a little time.
He worried about taking care of Ashli and the kids. There were so many unknowns right now.
Ashli remained by Deshaun’s side during his weeks in the hospital. She’d had to bring Gabrielle and Max to her mother’s in Las Cruces, since children under 12 were not allowed to visit the burn unit. Besides, they were too young to understand what was happening to their daddy right now, and Ashli needed to be by her husband’s side.
Two days after the accident, Allen came to visit. He was pretty sure it would be too soon to see Deshaun, but he needed to see Ashli. He found her crying in the waiting room, waiting for the nurses to change her husband’s bandages.
He took a deep breath and walked up, holding out a large bouquet of flowers. Ashli slowly rose to her feet, took the flowers from Allen’s right hand, and delivered a stinging slap to his left cheek.
“How dare you come here?” she hissed, “Deshaun told me you all skipped a “few” safety precautions to meet a deadline. A DEADLINE? Are you KIDDING ME Allen? He’s your BEST FRIEND!”
“I know, and I’m so, so sorry, Ashli. Listen, I’ll give you some space right now. Just make sure you read the card.”
He turned away and quickly left before she saw the tears running down his own cheeks for his friend.
Ashley strode up to the trash can with the flowers. She was about to spike them when she stopped. The “card” wasn’t some lame, “Sorry I almost got you killed, BFF.” It was a business card from a law firm. A message was scrawled on the back that said, “CALL THEM.”
We met the Wallaces a week later and the day before surgery to graft skin to Deshawn’s burned leg — and remove his foot.
Ashli had called the day before, explaining that before moving forward, Deshaun needed to know how much it would cost to hire us, how much his case was worth, and how long it would take.
How Much Does it Cost to Hire a Lawyer for My Industrial Accident Claim?
We sat down in our protective gowns, masks, and gloves to answer the couple’s questions. Deshaun was tall and muscular. He would have been intimidating were it not for his disarming smile. His lovely wife looked to be hundred fifty pounds lighter than him and at least a foot shorter. She too greeted us warmly, smiling all the way to her remarkable hazel eyes.
“Hey, I hate to get right down to it, but I need to know how much you charge before you get too comfortable,” Deshaun smirked.
“It’s actually completely understandable, and almost always the first question we get,” we told him. “The answer is, we don’t charge anything up front. We work on a contingency model, so we will cover all costs for your case from beginning to end. When it’s done, we only get paid when we bring your case to a successful conclusion.”
“All right, then, I guess you can stay,” Deshaun answered, sending laughter around the room.
How Much is My Industrial Accident Claim Worth?
“Can you tell me how much my case is worth?” he asked.
We explained that this is not a question that can be answered accurately at the very beginning of a case.
“The answer is going to depend on the results of our accident investigation, and on your damages.
“The investigation is something we can begin right away, interviewing witnesses and collecting evidence. We’ll also begin to work up your entire case as if it were going to trial.
“We’re going to need your help with the other part. To determine damages, we need all of your focus to be on your recovery. This means getting rest and following your doctors’ treatment plan as closely as possible until you reach maximum medical improvement.
“The term means basically, until you are back to ‘normal’ health, or as close to it as you can get, given your injuries. It will also be the point at which you are through with surgeries and we have a solid picture of what any future medical care for your injuries will be.
“When you reach this point, we’ll know your damages, both economic and non-economic, and then we’ll know the value of your case.”
Deshawn looked down at his legs as he digested what he’d heard.
“Fair. I guess that makes sense.”
How Long Will My Industrial Accident Claim Take?
“So if we get started with all this, how long will my case take? I don’t mean to rush you along; I respect that you have a complicated job to do. It’s just that I’ll obviously be out of work for several months, at least. I just— I NEED to take care of my family,” Deshaun said, a tear running to his chin. He wiped it quickly and looked out the window. Ashli squeezed his hand.
“That, too, is a completely understandable question, and also one of the ones we get all the time.
“The answer is that your timeline will depend on two factors.
“The first is how long it takes for you to reach maximum medical improvement. Once you reach that, we’ll know your damages and will send a demand letter to the insurance company.”
“And the second factor?” Ashli asked, leaning in.
“The second factor is how the insurance company responds. If they are reasonable, we can get to work on a fair settlement and everything moves along.
“If they’re not agreeable and they fight us, we take them to court.
“Now, going through a trial can of course extend your timeline, but it’s not something you should be alarmed over. We’ve taken many cases like yours before juries with successful results.
“The insurance companies know who we are, and it’s not uncommon for them to decide to negotiate a settlement rather than take us on at trial. There are no guarantees, of course, but our reputation in the courtroom may actually help to keep your case out of court.
“Either way, we’ll be ready. That’s why no matter which firm you choose, we strongly recommend you hire be a personal injury trial lawyer with experience in industrial accident claims. It’s the best way to get the results you deserve.”
Deshaun and Ashli were happy with our answers to their questions. They retained our firm, and we are pleased to say that we got Deshaun over seven times the amount the insurance company initially offered.
Call our Texas Industrial Accident Lawyers Today
We hope the information provided here has given you a good sense of the elements of your industrial accident claim. Of course, every case is unique. We recommend you call our office and get your specific questions answered for your own case in a free legal consultation. Don’t take on the burden of your case alone. Contact us as soon as possible for free legal advice.