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Workers Comp case. Long, but please read. I tried to make it easy to do so. Michigan

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  • Workers Comp case. Long, but please read. I tried to make it easy to do so. Michigan


    Much of what I write here will seem absolutely crazy. I think it's crazy and embarassing. I wouldn't put this info out there if I wasn't desperate to find SOMEONE with some insight. I have reached a very critical point in my WC case and I don't know what to do.

    I wanted to ask specific questions, but I don't even know what to ask. I'm not stupid, but I have a learning disability which makes taking in information difficult at times. I get confused easily.

    Here is some background.

    I have had a long standing Workers Comp. case. Over 10 years worth.

    I have had my present attorney for 3 years.

    Over that time, I have been kept out of my place of employment for much of the last decade with no work and a very small paycheck. I have taken any opportunity to work when offered. I have been re-injured several times including torn muscles in the arm with the initial injury. There is much to say here, but I'm trying to be brief.

    I was denied access to Vocational Rehab. after many years of no employment. Being told that it was "unnecessary" and they would find me something to do. I didn't know any better and I believed they wanted me to work. Not to mention I was terrified to lose my job.

    I have had my personal information in my medical file discussed in front of members of my plants general population... as an example of "one f'd up individual". I made my feelings known by politely askiing the staff to stop. I was sent home from work 2 days later.

    I was offered a "buyout" 2 years ago. I refused as it didn't include health care. I was sent back home.

    I hadn't been employed for some time and I had to make a choice to keep my apartment or keep my car. I was three weeks into the month, not yet 30 days late. I decided to keep my car. I made an agreement with the company which held my lease as I needed to save money so I could keep my credit in good standing. My lease was to expire in three months anyway. I lived in my car for a while and eventually found a family friend who rented me her attic for a small fee. This company then broke the agreement and repossessed my vehicle the day before I was to start paying as per our "verbal" agreement. I never received a notice or a phone call that I was in violation of anything.

    They told me I had 30 days to get caught up, they sold the car 15 days later. It was then that I found out the company that held the lease on my car was owned by the company that owned my employer.

    A week later I was kicked off of Workers Comp. and put on layoff. Because I hadn't worked the previous year, I discovered I wasn't eligible for Unemployment. I eventually got access to something called sub-pay offered by my employer.

    After settling in to my friends attic space. (no bed at first, mattress and suitcase was all I had left by this time). Payroll had "trouble" sending checks to my bank account I had trouble paying for medical co-pays. I even suffered a seizure after I had to stop my medication because I couldn't afford it.

    I was transfered to another plant and called back to work. I had no car of my own so I had to rent vehicles. The new plant said they couldn't use me with my restrictions and made me get more information from my doctor about my injury. My doctor sent them a lengthy letter explaining how serious my injury and situation was. They then cut off my sub-pay, reducing my pay to a one week paycheck.

    I was continually called back to work to see the plant physician. I did my best to comply, but the costs were getting too great and I eventually lost my room to rent. I lived in rental cars for a while. After a few weeks I was allowed to stay with a family member.

    They then stopped paying me anything at all. They still required me to get to the plant doctors office for check-ups. I had to constantly call my doctor to make appointments. I couldn't afford the co-pays for him and my medication and had to stop one. He and my Psychologist sent letters to my employer on my behalf telling them what my injuries were and how desperate my situation was.

    Then my health care provider after 3 years indicated that they would no longer pay for a specifc medication. The PHARMACIST then told them what would happen if they abruptly cut off this medication. They relented and authorized it. A month later, they said they wouldn't pay for another med I was taking (I took three). I would have to see my psychologist and get an exam and find another medication. I set up an appointment to see the doctor as fast as I could.

    Before I got to see that doctor, I was sent a letter from my employer indicating I had to either show up at the plant or get yet another letter (letter was from the Human Resources manager and wasn't even signed.) from my personal physician explaining why I wasn't at work. My doctor exploded and sent the letter that day. I called employment for 5 hours and got no response. I called another person in the plant and asked if they would check to see if they had gotten the information. I was informed that everything was ok.

    The day after next I got a letter at home indicating I was fired. They said I was supposed to physically deliver the letter. The letter says show up OR send a letter from my physician explaining my absence. After a while they changed saying the letter didn't have enough information.

    After this, I finally, after 10 years got assigned a court date for a WC trial. It was postponed twice because the my employers attorney had other engagements. I eventually got another date.

    No mind you, I never once in 10 years received help from my union. I have made numerous calls to my local even wrote letters sending one to the national level. I have had excuses from the local and no response from the National.

    My attorney all along was very supportive verbally, but I've seen him maybe 6times, and talked to him perhaps 20 times in 3 years. He seemed to be interested and always offered me hope when I got to talk to him. I know this isn't how an attorney should treat his client, but no one would take my case. I had to ask the state to set me up with one as I had so many problems with attorneys here not wanting to get involved. They don't make much money on the cases so they have to "assembly line" them to make money. Getting people to settle is usually the way they do it.

    However, at my last court date I had my witnesses that my attorney said I should bring and was ready to go. They started the trial by taking something called stipulations. Then the magistrate asked the opposing attorney is she had witnesses. She did. The magistrate then asked my attorney if he/I had witnesses. My attorney said no. Me and my witnesses that were in the room were shocked. the opposing attorney the smiled at my attorney and asked he judge if she could postpone the trial as she had a family matter to attend to.

    After leaving the court room, I asked my attorney why we weren't using the witnesses. He avoided the question. I was upset and then asked him so what's going to happen am I going to lose and end up with nothing? He then said no, maybe a security guard or something. I then said since the company fired me they aren't feeling the pinch any longer. He said yep, this could go on for years and years. I asked him about his plan to sue the company for an unfair firing or make it a civil rights issue if we have trouble. he looked at me and said no, I need to contact the NLRB? (I had never heard of this before). He said I better do it quickly because you only have 6 months and it's been 4 since I was fired. This is a complete 180 from his original attitude. My uncle and I just stood there. We didn't know what to say.

    He left saying he'd see me in June. We drove home.

    I feel I have been led down the garden path as my grandmother used to say.

    I know this is way too long.

    I hope someone here can read what I've written and tell me what I should be doing. I have tried for a very long time to get help. I've always been a loyal employee, never caused trouble and my injury is legitimate.

    My union has abandoned me, I can't get any other attorneys to help. The WC attorneys are a fairly small circle. They don't like to step on each others toes. I have never been able to find an attorney that puts justice before profit. I know they exist, but I'm too stupid to find them I guess.

    I hope it's not too late. I could really use the help.

  • #2
    Poor thing. I definitely feel your pain. Your workers comp lawyer probably knows very little about wrongful termination, but they may be too ****y to say so. You definitely have a case if they didn't fire you for disciplinary action or anything like that. If you are out on leave per your doctor, it doesn't make much since to lay you off or fire you except for the fact that it really is retaliation.

    I have to call around myself for a civil/employment lawyer on Monday in addition to my workers comp lawyer. Maybe I can give better advice then.

    In the mean time don't let "them" make you feel you are crazy or ashamed for asking about what is owed to you. If it smells fishy, follow your instincts cause these workers comp people, and the private insurer that hires them are beyond corrupt... I don't think they have even invented a wrd yet for how shady these people can get.


    • #3
      Sounds like a union contract is in place? Your employer has kept you on the payroll for 10 YEARS? That's about 9 years and 9 months longer than the LAW requires them to hold your job under FMLA.

      If the union contract is being breached and the local is not fighting for you, then take it up the chain within your union, even to national if you have to. However, the SUB (supplemental unemployment benefits) is something that you employer provides, not the state (if I'm understanding you correctly).

      We have no idea why your attorney would say that in the hearing, but there are a couple of WC experts here who may happen by. Just remember, this is a holiday weekend and all the responders here are volunteers.
      I don't respond to Private Messages unless the moderator specifically refers you to me for that purpose. Thank you.


      • #4
        Thank you very much for the fast responses.

        I'm sorry I had to explain my situation in such a poor way. I wish I could be more to the point with questions. Making people sift through poorly written explanations was not what I intended.

        I apologize.

        As to the comment about FMLA, not sure what that is. I have been on Workers Comp. for a long time. Then I was kicked off. Because I don't have enough money to fight these folks (a major corporation), I don't think I'll be able to win without legal assistance. My doctors have stood by me and my diagnosis for many years, but they can only do so much.

        I realize that I was on comp for a long time. The injury I have is permanent now, though I was told it may have been brought under control if I would have had treatment authorized early on. I have developed other problems as a result of this injury.

        I just don't know what I can do now. I don't know what my legal options are.

        I have been unfairly fired from my job. Yes, I have a union and they have done absolutely nothing to help me even though I pay dues. I understand this is a violation and I should hold the union accountable (I don't know how though.). What I don't understand is why I should be focusing on my union when it was the corporation who fired me, who had me do jobs that re-injured me many times and used my loyalty against me.

        Now I don't know if my attorney has my best interests in mind or if he's trying to get rid of me. He hasn't talked to me about my case very often and now his attitude toward me has really changed now that we are heading to trial.

        I feel like I'm being set up, but I don't dare say it because I'm not sure.

        I'm hoping this forum and its members can give me some help or insight.


        • #5
          Your first line of defense in WC is to know what WC system offers, sometime more importantly, what the system does not provide for. As WC is all about the employers liability for injury/illness in the work place, the laws have been enacted to define what that liability covers. EmployER's are not going to pay more than the law demands. As such, there are going to be disputed medical issues, and ligitation. As well as the ability of either party to appeal a WC judges decisions.

          Begin that education here

          Generally speaking, all the issues you have, while valid, and your frustration understandable, are not within the jurisdiction of the WC system/courts.
          The ability of IWs to sue their ER's is defined in Section 131.1 of the MI code, specifically on page 8 at the link above. Under the provisions of that code, you would have to prove fault. These cases can be very expensive to litigate, and are not part of the WC claim itself. Deposition, expert witness etc are costly and attorneys are not likely to front these litigation costs...meaning $$ up front out of pocket.

          Filing a claim for WC benefits where there is industrial injury/illness is for the most part your exclusive remedy. WC is a no fault system, you don't have to prove you are injured, no one disputes that. Once the claim is accepted by the employER/carrier, the only thing you have to prove is your eligibility to the benefits you are demanding. IE. wage replacement, medical treatment, and IF there is permanent impairment due to your injury, indemnity associated with the predetermined scheduled loss award calculations. Or whole body impairment as the case may be.

          WC is not like personal injury claims, even though the injury is "personal''. Your attorney can't do anything to change the laws/rules. You weren't "kicked off comp" because you couldn't fight the ER. You stopped receiving Temporary Disability benefits because you were determined to have reached a stable condition...MMI/Max Medical Improvement has been reached. Your condition will be rated for PPD, and the claim move to some sort of resolution.

          There is another poster here with a disclaimer to the effect of " because something is unfair, doesn't make it illegal... regardless of what your friends or co-workers may tell you".

          As a rule... your Union has no input or involvement in a WC claim. They can't ''do'' anything for you. Unless your ER has violated the terms of the CBA/Collective Bargaining Agreement, they won't get involved.

          Apparently your ER is large enough to be legally self insured. That doesn't mean there are other statutes/rules they are governed under, just that they will litigate further than a insurance carrier is likely to.

          If there is another party involved in your injury, there could be a 3rd party action here. Don't know based on your info provided. That would change your eligibility for some of the benefits. And award dollars.

          FMLA is a federal law that provides job protections and ER provided benefits for up to 12 weeks/annum. There are limitations to eligibility for unpaid leave under FMLA, I'd have to presume you do qualify. Your ER is not required, by law, to provide any additional time/leave, and a WC claim does not provide ANY job protections.

          You have a complicated claim... apparently there is a specific onset injury, you RTW/returned to work, suffered re-injury, RTW, injury once again... some of this could be relative to the org claim, some could/should be a new claim. Hard to decipher based on your info.

          I'd have to say though, I doubt there is anyone here who will attempt to second guess your attorney as to what he may have in mind. You are correct that attorneys handling comp claims are working in a volume business, the fees are nil compared to PI, everything in comp is based on medical evidence, your Dr reports and your recovery/rating.
          There is virtually nothing to "win" in a comp trial. Stipulations are simply issues agreed upon by the parties. IE. the % of your PPD rating, the need for FMC/Future Medical Care, amount of indemnity due. Continuing disability weekly/benefits.

          The only thing I could offer you here would be to apply for SSDI/social security if your Dr don't believe you are capable of working now. Or, participate in a VR program if available, and begin an earnest job search for something within any restrictions placed on you by your treating physicians.

          I doubt I've offered anything remotely positive for you. But WC isn't positive. The benefits are extremely limited. The goal is functional restoration, a return to gainful employment, even if that is sedative in nature, and minimum wage. I wouldn't defend the statutes as they are waaaaaay too far to the ER/carriers best interests right now. Nor the ER's reluctance to bring you back to work. But it's not about unfairness all the time, but business decisions made to get the job done, keep the line going and jobs in place. The bottom line defines how/what those decisions are made in put in place.
          Unfair... probably... illegal, no.


          • #6
            Thanks so much CAIW.

            I'm sorry it took me so long to resond. I don't have regular access to the internet.

            Thank you for spelling it out for me. I won't say I understood everything, but I take your word for it.

            Thanks for the link as well, unfortunately it takes me hours and hours to read anything and then it's a crap shoot to see if I got anything out of it.

            The situation is hard and complicated. I totally understand that something can be unfair yet completely legal.

            I just don't know why my attorney said the things he did. Then, when the court case begins the stories all change. I'm told to get witnesses to events, keep all my paperwork then he says I can't have witnesses and there isn't any need for paperwork... I just don't understand what's going on and he doesn't explain.

            So I came here on the advice of another person hoping someone would have some answers for good or ill. I do think he just wants to dump my case and be rid of me.

            I was healthy, loyal and loved life once upon a time. I've lost everything I have, friends, family possessions and self-respect. I Haven't a had a regular paycheck in over a year. No health insurance either for 4 months since I was fired for absolutely no reason other than I'm dirt poor and can't defend myself. I have veterans benefits, but I don't want to take anything away from the young men and women overseas. I feel guilty applying for services not connected wih a service injury. Besides, there isn't anything they can do for my injury now.

            It's amazing when you see people sue for being looked at the wrong way and get thousands of dollars, yet I get injured and reinjured and no one gives a darn.

            I thank those of you who took time to respond. It meant a lot to get some answers from total strangers no-less. Most people I try to talk to just think of me as a bum looking for a hand out. Funny how people change. I'm tired of being treated like useless garbage.

            I guess there isn't anything left to do. No light at the end of the tunnel. Isn't it strange that we hold on to hope for so long?

            Again, I appreciate all the insight. I'm glad this forum was here.

            Take care all.


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