Legal Question in Workers Comp in Wyoming

wyoming workers comp

i was awarded & recieve disability thru 08/08,I will apply for PPI then,I have been wanting a settlement of a lump sum,my att.

told me back in May that the wc att.offered me a small amt to settle but my attorney suggested to me not to accept it wich i did not. I found out today thru my wc analyst there had bn no offer from the division. Now I know my wc lawyer has been lying to me. I dont know what to do now, I need someone to fight for me and my future. I have had 2 surgeries and am in consistant pain.I want a settlement amt for my future and do away with all the Dr. and WC forever. It has been over 2 yrs now. Can someone give me help on what i should and could do?

Asked on 3/14/08, 3:58 pm

1 Answer from Attorneys

L. Eric Lundgren Lundgren Law Offices, P.C.

Re: wyoming workers comp

First, you must understand that the Wyo. Workers Comp. system is a maze, a mess, and a complicated process. Above all, you must realize that the claims analyst is your adversary, not your friend. Their job is to process claims in a way that costs the Division as little as possible. Their incentive is financial, not philanthropic.

Your attorney, on the other hand, has stringent ethical standards, governing his relationship with his/her clients. Violation of these standard can result in the loss of his/her license. I find it difficult, in light of the stringent ethical requirements, to believe that your attorney intentionally deceived you about this. No case would be worth risking the loss of a license to practice law. That is not to say it couldn't happen, just that it would be irrational for an attorney to act in that way.

It is more likely that there has been a misunderstanding over the settlement issue. It may be that an offer was extended verbally by the Division's attorney, though it is unlikely that he would not have communicated with the claim analyst at the Division. It may also be that, prior to completion of your case, the Division made an impairment award offer, which is not a "settlement offer."

A key question here is, have you received a permanent partial impairment rating? Typically, when your doctor or, sometimes the claims analyst, says you have reached maximum medical improvement, the division finds you at a point of ascertainable loss and requires you to get an impairment rating. They will terminate your TTD benefits at this point. Once the impairment rating is complete, the Division will extend an impairment award offer, often even if you have contested the ascertainable loss determination. If the TTD termination is what prompted your appeal in the first place, the Division may have offered its permanent impairment award during the course of your appeal. This would not a "settlement offer," but, rather, just the Division carrying on with the decision you were contesting as though it had already won.

If this happened, your attorney would have discussed this with you, and may have advised you whether to accept the impairment award. Obviously, not having access to your file, I am speculating here.

Once you receive an impairment rating, you are eligible to apply for permanent partial disability / permanent total disability benefits. From your question, it sounds like you have not yet reached that point.

In short, before jumping to the conclusion that your lawyer is a scumbag and is lying to you, I would strongly advise you to go meet with your attorney. Have him/her explain what the "offer" was and what your next step is. You can then decide whether your attorney is acting in your best interest with a better understanding of what is going on.

Also, it may help you to read the workers comp. booklet to put the process in context, if you have not already done so.

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Answered on 3/14/08, 6:13 pm

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