Frequently Asked Questions About Workers’ Comp And Personal Injury Law

A number of questions arise after a work-related injury or an injury caused by someone else’s negligence. Our focus at Christensen Law Office, PC, is to eliminate the stress of pursuing a personal injury claim or workers’ compensation benefits by handling the legal aspects while our clients focus on recovering. The answers to these frequently asked questions can provide some relief. Of course, we are always available to answer questions specific to your situation.

Workers Compensation FAQ

What benefits can I recover after a work injury?

Workers’ compensation benefits cover 100% of your medical expenses. Beyond that, every case is unique and must be assessed on its own merits. If you are unable to return to work for seven straight days, you may be able to recover a percentage of your lost wages. The amount you recover and how long you receive benefits are based on several factors. If you are able to return to work, but cannot work full time, you may receive benefits to partially compensate for the difference between your full-time and part-time income. Workers who suffer permanent injuries may receive benefits for life. Our knowledgeable workers’ compensation lawyer will help you determine what benefits you qualify to receive.

What if the injury was caused by my mistake?

South Dakota workers’ compensation laws protect all injured workers no matter who is at fault for an injury. There are exceptions in which a worker may lawfully be denied benefits, including if a worker is injured due to intoxication, illegal drug use or willful misconduct. Farm laborers and independent contractors also are not covered under the state’s workers’ compensation laws.

What happens if my workers’ compensation claim is denied?

A denied claim is not the final word. You may request mediation with the Division of Labor and Management. If a dispute is not resolved in mediation, or if you do not want to go to mediation, you may file a petition for a formal hearing before an administrative law judge. Often, a claim is denied because there are insufficient medical records to support it. We know what is necessary to support a claim, and we are able to resolve many denied claims without the need to go before a judge.

How long does it take to resolve a denied claim?

That’s sort of like asking how long is a baseball game? A lot depends on the unique aspects of your case. Some claims are resolved relatively quickly. Those that enter into litigation can take a year or more to resolve.

Can I settle my disputed claim for a lump-sum payment?

An insurance company may offer a lump-sum payment to resolve a dispute over a workers’ compensation claim. If an injured party accepts a lump-sum payment, they usually forfeit the right to all future benefits, including medical coverage. It may be a good idea to accept a lump-sum payment, but it is always smart to review such an offer with a knowledgeable workers’ compensation attorney.

Can I be treated by my own doctor as part of a workers’ comp claim?

You may be treated by your own doctor, but you must notify your employer about your choice prior to treatment (or as soon as reasonably possible after treatment). Your employer may ask for a second medical opinion with a medical practitioner of their choosing.

My employer’s insurance company claims my injury was a preexisting condition. Can I dispute that?

You are able to recover workers’ compensation benefits if you aggravate or exacerbate a preexisting condition due to work-related activity. These are complex cases where representation from an experienced workers’ compensation lawyer may help you reach a resolution in your favor.

Personal Injury FAQ

Why do I need to hire a personal injury lawyer?

Because insurance companies are concerned about profits like any other business, they frequently undervalue claims by injured parties or deny valid claims completely. Our personal injury lawyer has experience standing up to insurance company lawyers and representatives in order to protect the rights of our injured clients. The insurance companies have lawyers who deal with these cases every day. You need someone in your corner who understands the tactics they use, and who knows how to build strong cases that maximize the amount that injured parties recover.

What if I am partly to blame for an accident in which I was injured?

Under South Dakota’s slight/gross negligence comparative fault law, an injured party may only collect damages in a personal injury lawsuit if he or she is only slightly at fault compared to the gross negligence of the defendant named in the lawsuit. If you are slightly at fault, the amount you recover will be reduced by the percentage of fault that can be applied to you.

Is there a cap on how much I can recover in a personal injury lawsuit?

While there is no cap on the amount of recovery for economic losses, South Dakota laws do limit the amount of recovery for noneconomic damages. The cap is $1 million in medical malpractice and product liability cases. Currently, there are no caps for punitive damages, though punitive damages are not common in South Dakota personal injury cases.

Protecting Your Interests When You Are Injured

Workers’ compensation and personal injury cases are complex. It’s wise to enlist representation from a personal injury lawyer like Renee Christensen, who brings more than 25 years of experience in injury law to every case. Call 605-335-1778 or use our online contact form to schedule a free consultation.

We have the resources necessary to build strong cases, and we work with highly regarded medical professionals and other experts who can testify on your behalf if that is needed. Remember, there are no upfront costs, and we only collect an attorney fee if we help you obtain a recovery.