Re-injured back in car accident while receiving workers' comp benefits...
(San Diego, CA)
I have been getting benefits under Worker's Comp for 2 years now in California. Last week, while driving I was hit by a car in the rear bumper. I was taken to the hospital, and the doctor did X-rays of the neck only (because I told him I was under worker's comp).
He explained to me how he could not venture into my back, and that I needed to see my treating physician. When I saw my treating physician from Worker's Comp, he told me I was worse. However, he was not able to tell me if Worker's Comp was going to pay for the re-injured part's treatment, or if I had to ask the other driver's insurance to do so.
I already filed a claim against the driver's insurance. My questions are:
1) Should I seek a personal injury attorney? (since this will be 2 claims)
2) Should I talk to worker's comp lawyer?
3) How will this affect my Worker's Comp?
Thank you for any information you can provide.
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ANSWER for "Re-injured back in car accident while receiving workers' comp benefits...":
Esmeralda (San Diego, CA):
You state "When I saw my treating physician from Worker's Comp, he told me I was worse." That is a vague description of your injuries.
From the facts you present, you did not sustain any serious injuries. However, in the event the injuries you describe as "worse" are determined by a physician to be serious, then you may want to consult with several personal injury attorneys.
However, because you are already injured and receiving workers' compensation benefits, unless your new injuries can be clearly and exclusively differentiated from your workers' comp injuries, you will have a very difficult time finding a personal injury attorney to agree to represent you.
Until and unless your new injuries are determined by a physician to be separate from your previous injuries, or that the new injuries are at least able to be identified as a clear exacerbation of your previous injuries, your best interests would be served by consulting with your workers' compensation attorney. If you are not presently represented by a workers' comp attorney, now would be the time to consult with one.
Don't rush in an attempt to build your injury claim. If you have been injured, or re-injured, your medical records will support and identify those injuries. Your medical records will stand on their own.
Under the State of California's statute of limitations for personal injury claims, you have up to two (2) years from the date of your injury to either settle your injury claim or file a lawsuit.
Take the necessary time you need to have your physician, or the workers' compensation physician, identify the specific injuries you just sustained, or to clearly identify the injuries as an exacerbation of your previous injury. In the event your new injuries are determined to be serious or a clear exacerbation of your previous injuries, you will have the basis of a separate personal injury claim.
The above is general information. Laws change frequently, and across jurisdictions. You should get a personalized case evaluation from an attorney licensed in your state. Find a local attorney to give you a free case review here, or call (888) 647-2490.
Best of luck,
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