The doctor ordered a Functional Capacity Exam (FCE) but I need more treatment. Should I go to the exam?

July 24, 2015 by · Comments Off
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This is a confusing thing for injured workers – The answer is YES!!! You absolutely should go. The Functional Capacity Exam (FCE for short) is an exam that measures the extent of your disabilities stemming from the work injury. This measures your new level of ability if you have lasting limitations as a result of the work injury. This does not mean that you are done seeing the doctor nor does it mean that your case if over, it simply means that you have reached a point where the doctor believes it is appropriate for you to have for level of physical ability measured. This is also the time that, if necessary, the medical examiner can give you a rating on your loss of use (also called Permanent Partial Disability or PPD).doctor reading Film

As a side note, one other BIG reason you should go to the exam is, if the insurance carrier is going to cover the cost of the exam and you refuse to go, they could claim that you are not cooperating with the doctor’s treatment plan and stop you benefits! – Trust me folks, you don’t want to be in that situation!

If you are facing an FCE and you are not sure what to expect, my office has a lot of helpful information on this that we would be happy to pass on to you at no charge; order my book, “The Ultimate Guide to Workers’ Compensation in Virginia” by clicking this link, or call our office today (804) 755-7755.

~Author
Michele Lewane, Esq.

What is an “Intake Paralegal” and why do I need to speak to her?

July 17, 2015 by · Comments Off
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Sometimes folks get a little frustrated when they call an attorney’s office and can’t speak to the attorney right away so I wanted to let you all in on the inner workings of my office and how my IWLF team operates!

I have an Intake Paralegal, Sheena, who is specially trained to help folks who are dealing with the workers’ compensation system and may be looking for some general information, or may even be wondering if they need an attorney to help them. Everyone in my office has a highly specialized set of tasks they preform and Sheena is typically going to be one of the very first people you come into contact with when dealing with the Injured Workers’ Law Firm. Sheena’s role is to get all of the information from you and get it to me in a specialized format, she does this to stream-line your communication with my office and keep you informed and offer you help even when I’m not available.Call Center Girl

I do this for everyone’s benefit as I run a busy practice and I can sometimes be out of the office for a day, or even several days at a time attending hearings, depositions, mediations and sometimes I have several previously scheduled appointments set up and it may take some time for me to respond to messages, emails and phone calls. As my Intake Paralegal, Sheena will help you better understand what is going on with your situation and shed some light on the things the insurance carrier may not be telling you. She can also help you to identify “turning points” in your case; instances that might call for legal representation where you maybe did not need an attorney before. Sheena has a direct line of communication with me and will ensure your issues are addressed. She will not give you legal advice because she is not an attorney, but she can give you tons of helpful information to get things moving.

The other great benefit of injured workers’ talking to my Intake Paralegal – she tracks EVERYTHING! Whenever you call and talk to Sheena, she takes detailed notes and gives me updates on the changes in your claim so, if the time should come that you do need to hire my office, I have a detailed accounting of what has taken place and my staff and I can “hit the ground running” because we have all the history of what has lead you to this point!

If you would like more information on the workers’ compensation system order my book, “The Ultimate Guide to Workers’ Compensation in Virginia” by clicking this link, or call our office and talk with my staff today at (804) 755-7755.

~Author
Michele Lewane, Esq.

Is the Adjuster ignoring your phone calls – try email!

July 10, 2015 by · Comments Off
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One of the biggest gripes injured workers have is that they can never get ahold of their Adjuster and days or weeks go by with no response. We here at IWLF know all about this, Adjusters are hard to get a hold of for a reason – maybe they have too many files to keep up with or – maybe they are just playing “hard to get”. Either way, injured workers need to be informed about what is happening with their claim.

If you call and call and leave message after message for your Adjuster and are not getting anywhere, try email. At my office, we LOVE email because it leaves that “paper trail” that the court system lives by! If you send emails to your Adjuster and still don’t get any happy computercommunication, send these to the Commission and let them know – now you have paperwork to show them how you’ve tried communicating with the Adjuster! Once you get the Commission involved, the Adjuster is going to have to respond!

If you do not have an attorney, you are free to communicate with the Adjuster on your own, if you are represented by an attorney, you should ask your representative before doing this – at IWLF we do this for our Clients so they don’t have to deal with this sometimes frustrating part of the WC system.

If you would like more information about the workers’ compensation system contact my office at (804) 755-7755, or order my book, “The Ultimate Guide to Workers’ Compensation in Virginia” by clicking this link.

~Author

Michele Lewane, Esq.

VWC is going paperless as of 6/26/15

July 3, 2015 by · Comments Off
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The Virginia Workers’ Compensation Commission (VWC) is switching to an all paperless system as of 6/26/15. For those of you who use the WebFile feature on their website, this should be a very smooth transition for you. If you are not familiar with WebFile, it’s a portal on the VWC website (http://vwc.state.va.us/) that lets you access your file with the Commission online. It’s a wonderful tool that will allow you to check in on the progress of your case and view, print or upload any documents associated with your claim.Typing on keyboard

My office is super excited for the Commission to introduce these new upgrades!

If you would like more information about the workers’ compensation system or the WebFile tools on the VWC website contact my office at (804) 755-7755, or order my book, “The Ultimate Guide to Workers’ Compensation in Virginia” by clicking this link.

~Author
Michele Lewane, Esq.

2015 KidsChance Scholarships have been announced!

July 1, 2015 by · Comments Off
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The numbers for the 2015 Scholarship Awards are in! I must say, the growth of this program over the last couple of years has been amazing and I am so happy to be a part of this program that benefits my clients! Thank you to all of our sponsors and applicants and a HUGE CONGRATULATIONS to all of our scholarship recipients!

Year                           Awards                                                  Total Awarded
2012                          3 Awards / $2,500.00 each            $7,500.00
2013                          8 Awards / $3,000.00 each            $24,000.00
2014                         12 Awards / $4,000.00 each           $48,000.00
2015                         22 Awards / varied amounts             $102,500.00

If you want to get involved and support this program or if you would like to get some information on applying for next year’s awards, money rollcontact my office at (804) 755-7755, or if you would like more information on the workers’ compensation system order my book, dollar signs“The Ultimate Guide to Workers’ Compensation in Virginia” by clicking this link.

~Author
Michele Lewane, Esq.

Congratulations to Clara’s family!

June 29, 2015 by · Comments Off
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KidsChance of VAI got an email recently from my client, Clara. Clara’s is an injured worker who has been working with my office after an injury at work and she had told me about her son who is currently in college. I told her about the KidsChance program that I work with and how her son could apply for a scholarship with them. Clara and her son filled out the application and I’m THRILLED to announce that Clara’s son was awarded $4,000.00 through the KidsChance program to help with his educational expenses. Clara’s son is a very bright young man with honor roll grades in his 3rd year of school at Virginia Tech in the Business Information and Technology program and is currently taking part in an internship.

Congratulations to Clara’s family! We are so happy for you and you your son!

If you would like more information about the workers’ compensation system or the KidsChance program, contact my office at (804) 755-7755, or order my book, “The Ultimate Guide to Workers’ Compensation in Virginia” by clicking this link.

~Author
Michele Lewane, Esq.

More information on FMLA and workers comp

June 26, 2015 by · Comments Off
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I’ve written about FMLA (Family and Medical Leave Act) before but I read a great blog today by a Nevada workers’ compensation attorney named Virginia Hunt, Esq. Ms. Hunt explains how injured workers’ who are out of work and meet the FMLA requirements might be able to use unpaid FMLA to protect their job for a period of 12 weeks FMLA Badgewhile they are off collecting workers’ compensation pay (since workers’ compensation in Virginia DOES NOT offer any type of job protection to folks injured at work).

Click here to read the full article

If you would like more information on the Virginia Workers’ Compensation system order my book, “The Ultimate Guide to Workers’ Compensation in Virginia” by clicking this link, or call our office today (804) 755-7755.

~Author
Michele Lewane, Esq.

The Life Expectancy Table

June 19, 2015 by · Comments Off
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The Virginia Workers’ Compensation Commission calculates life expectancy for the estimation of future medical benefits. If you are familiar with my blog, you know that settlement values are based in part on future medical needs.elderly hands

Virginia Code section 8.01-419 is where you will find the tables for life expectancy. Right now, men are estimated to live an average of 74.7 years and women an average of 80 years. Yes fellas, the ladies are estimated to live longer! This table does offer exceptions for those of us who are lucky to live past the average years.

View the Code of Virginia table here

If you would like more information on the Virginia Workers’ Compensation system, order my book, “The Ultimate Guide to Workers’ Compensation in Virginia” by clicking this link, or call our office today (804) 755-7755.

~Author

Michele Lewane, Esq.

The Adjuster said I was overpaid and has reduced/cut my check– what is going on?

June 12, 2015 by · Comments Off
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Sometimes if the insurance carrier pays you benefits you are not owed (for example if you return to work and are earning your full wages but still receiving a check from the carrier for lost wages) you may have an over-payment. This can get a little confusing so bear with me here:

If you have an Award protecting your wages, the carrier can recoup this loss at rate of 25% of your weekly check or out of any lump sum you receive. They may also be able to take some of the owed wages out of any mileage reimbursement or Cost of Living Adjustment that the injured worker qualifies for.

An over-payment can also happen if the Carrier paid you at the wrong rate, for example if you should have been receiving $300.00 a week in lost wages but you were paid at a rate of $375.00 a week, you would have been paid $75.00 too much for every week that the carrier sent you a lost wage check. Some folks assume that if the carrier paid them at the wrong rate they don’t have to pay back the over-payment, unfortunately this is not the case.Writing a Check

If you don’t have an Award, the carrier may stop your check all together until the over-payment is satisfied. This can be a very difficult situation for injured workers, this is why I always tell injured workers to file their Claim for Benefits form and get under an Award to protect their benefits!

If you believe that they are not correct, contact your attorney immediately to get a print out of their payment history and to figure out if there was an actual over-payment.

If you would like more information on the Virginia Workers’ Compensation system, order my book, “The Ultimate Guide to Workers’ Compensation in Virginia” by clicking this link, or call our office today (804) 755-7755.

~Author

Michele Lewane, Esq.

Why IWLF does not do appeals cases when we didn’t handle the original hearing

June 5, 2015 by · Comments Off
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Injured workers sometimes call me office after they have: 1) been a hearing on their own and have been denied benefits by the Virginia Workers Compensation Commission or 2) been to a hearing with another attorney and lost and they want to know if we will take their case on appeal.

The truth is, we do not takes cases on appeal because if the injured worker (or their attorney) has filed all the evidence and the Commission still does not believe they are Cartoon Judgeentitled to benefits, then under Virginia law, they probably are not( or their attorney would appeal the matter himself). If the injured worker or attorney did NOT file all of the necessary documentation prior to going to a hearing, it is TOO LATE. I cannot take your case and submit new evidence and the Commission will only re-review the information that was presented at the first hearing making the chances of a successful appeal very slim. The appeal is only if the Deputy Commissioner applied the wrong case law in your case. If I handled the initial hearing, I definitely appeal cases when I believe the law has been incorrectly applied.

This is why I ALWAYS tell injured workers to consult an attorney. If you handle things improperly there may not be a way to “fix” it later. This is also why I tell people to do plenty of research before they hire an attorney to make sure they have an attorney who can meet their needs – don’t just hire the first person listed in the yellow pages or the first name that comes up on a Google search! Make sure they understand and know Virginia Workers Compensation laws and how to build the facts and evidence in your case so you will win your workers compensation case.

If you would like more information on the Virginia Workers’ Compensation system order my book, “The Ultimate Guide to Workers’ Compensation in Virginia” by clicking this link, or call our office today (804) 755-7755.

~Author

Michele Lewane, Esq.

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