Wyoming Workers’ Compensation Lawyer

What to Do After a Workplace Accident in Wyoming

Video Transcript:

Grant Lawson:

There's a lot of things that can come up and there can be disputes, and then if there's not going to be coverage, if they're not going to pay for it, you may need to go fight.

Rob Rosenthal:

Do you know what to do if you think you have more than a workers’ comp claim? Well, we're going to find out today because that's what we're going to ask the lawyer.

Hi again, everybody, I'm Rob Rosenthal with askthelawyers.com, and my guest is Wyoming attorney Grant Lawson with the Metier Law Firm. Grant, good to see again. Thank you for making some time for us.
Grant Lawson:

Absolutely, always a pleasure. Thanks for letting me be back here again.

Rob Rosenthal:

Let's just talk with some basics. Start with the basic workers’ comp. What is that? How does that work?

Grant Lawson:

Well, workers’ comp is a system that's supposed to allow people who are hurt on the job to get medical coverage and benefits, both through lost time, lost wages, and future medical care if they get hurt on the job, regardless of how they're hurt on the job. The system originally in most states, was developed in a way that allowed employers to be protected from liability while giving employees the ability to make a work comp claim or an injury-on-the-job claim without having to set up a legal fight. And so that was kind of the trade-off that state legislatures enacted. And so since that time, the systems have grown. Some states have private insurance or private insurers who provide the workers’ compensation coverage. For some states like Wyoming, it's a state-run workers’ comp system, and you have differences that vary along those lines.

Rob Rosenthal:

Do all businesses in Wyoming have to offer workers’ comp? Does it depend on the size or how many employees? How does that work?

Grant Lawson:

They do not have to. It's a matter of whether they choose to do so. They can actually retroactively apply workers’ comp coverage. Say somebody gets hurt on the job and the employer is not paying into work comp; they actually have a certain period of time after that employee gets hurt to get coverage. Certain directors or owners and operators of a company or an employer do not have to be covered; so there's state-specific rules that apply. Most employers do provide that, especially bigger employers, but you won't always have every single employer paying into that system. Walmart is a good example that has their own coverage and do not pay into the workers’ comp system here in Wyoming.

Rob Rosenthal:

So, I know there are workers’ comp attorneys that handle these sorts of things. For a general workers’ comp case, is that the kind of thing you need an attorney to help you navigate?

Grant Lawson:

Well, it depends. There's a lot of factors that go into that, but one is, are you getting any pushback? Are you not getting coverage for the treatment or imaging, or seeing the doctor you want to see, or the procedure you need done, the surgery? There's a lot of things that can come up and there can be disputes. If there's not going to be coverage, if they're not going to pay for it, you may need to go fight; you may need to go fight whoever, whether it's the insurer or the state, to make sure that you're getting paid, that the coverage is being provided for the medical treatment, but also for any sort of expenses that come along with lost time at work, stuff like that. So yeah, it just depends. Each situation is different.

Rob Rosenthal:

So now let's take it to the next step, sort of related, but different. Tell us about a third party case and how that kind of fits in with workers’ comp claims?

Grant Lawson:

So workers’ comp is a system that says, “Hey, you can't sue your employer if you get hurt on the job.” They have to provide you workers’ comp coverage so you can get the medical benefits and lost wages, stuff like that, but you can't sue your employer. But if somebody else outside of your employer is responsible for what happened on the job—you know, negligently setting up a construction site or an oil field site, or some sort of problem that allowed a third party, another entity to contribute to your accident, your injuries, and your harms, then you have potentially a claim against that third party that is not precluded by workers’ compensation. So it's important to have somebody take a look, and a lot of times employees won't even realize that there's a third party involved unless they call a lawyer and an attorney is able to really look into the entire situation and give them sound advice on whether or not there may be a potential claim there.

Rob Rosenthal:

So in that situation, you would contact a personal injury attorney like somebody like yourself to examine the case right?

Grant Lawson:

Right. And a firm like mine that works with workers’ comp attorneys in conjunction with not only making sure that the hurt employee gets the covers they need and representation they need on the workers’ comp side of thing, while also my firm that can attack the third party claim, product liability claim, or some other avenue potentially that's available that led to why somebody got hurt, or the family if somebody got killed. And so that's how we work together with those workers’ comp attorneys.

Rob Rosenthal:

You sort of answered this question a minute ago, but I would imagine there are cases where people suspect there might be something else, or maybe they just think, “I'm not sure if I have a case or a third-party claim.” In that case, they should consult an attorney even if they're not sure if they have a claim?

Grant Lawson:

Yeah, definitely. Especially with the statute of limitation, the time period that you have to bring a claim within, it's important that you go to an attorney, that they send out preservation letters, that evidence isn’t being lost or destroyed or whatever the case, and that you're actually having somebody take a look into the situation and try to figure out, “Hey, there's more to the story here. There's more than what was being examined.” Especially when people get hurt on the job, and even if there’s an OSHA investigation. OSHA isn't paid to do an entire thorough investigation of everything involved, including whether there were other parties potentially, or whether there was a product that failed or anything along those lines, and so you can't always depend on whatever somebody else is doing to investigate why you were injured or why your family member was killed. It's having an attorney who's knowledgeable and experienced in that area to really get deep and dig deep into all the information and try to collect it, to then process it and find out if there's something else there for the client.

Rob Rosenthal:

Obviously, these kinds of things come up when people in their lives are turned upside down. Do they have to worry that there's going to be some sort of outlay of money out of their pocket to talk to someone like yourself to find out if they have a case?

Grant Lawson:

That's the great thing; no, there is no requirement. All the investigation that's done is free of charge from a contingency fee operation. If, for example, with our type of firm and firms like mine that do contingency fee work, we not only take on that risk ourselves in doing all the investigation, but when you sign up as a client, we're covering those costs because a lot of times, whether it's an injured employee or a family of somebody who was either hurt badly or killed, they don't have the money to go out and do this investigation to try to work up a case to take on a case. And that's why we're able to provide that service for our clients and fight for them.

Rob Rosenthal:

Lots of great information as always, Grant. Thank you for making some time to answer our questions.

Grant Lawson:

Yeah, absolutely. Thanks guys. Happy New Year to all and my best wishes for better 2021.

Rob Rosenthal:

Same to you. That's going to do it for this episode of Ask the Lawyer. My guest has been Wyoming attorney Grant Lawson with the Metier Law Firm. Remember, if you want the very best information or you want to make sure you can choose a lawyer that lawyers choose, go to askthelawyers.com. Thanks for watching. I'm Rob Rosenthal with AskTheLawyers™.

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