Yes, you may. Just make sure that you are getting experienced guidance and good value for paying an attorney fee at this late stage of the claim, and be aware that attorneys’ fees will differ from one attorney to the next on such cases.
I often get phone calls from clients wanting to know whether the percentage offered by the insurer is fair after the rating exam, and whether the amount offered is correct. I will review those rating evaluations free of charge to an injured worker in Nevada who faxes me a copy of the insurer’s offer with the rating report attached. Just give me your contact phone number or email so that I may contact you after I review what you send me. You may also tell me on the fax cover what you think may be wrong with the PPD. If you don’t have any idea, but are just asking me to make sure, that’s fine, too.
Even without having your complete claims file and medical records, I can often spot obvious errors by the rating doctor, like those involving apportionment. I can also tell you whether or not you should have me obtain your medical records to explore the rating in greater depth. Again, I don’t charge for this service, and the only cost involved will be the 60 cents per page that medical providers charge me for obtaining your medical records. Be sure to contact me before the 70-day appeal time runs to contest the percentage in the PPD offer.
Deciding whether to contest a rating is a multi-step process that I can usually do rather quickly. I may want to get the name of a second rating doctor from the Division of Industrial Relation’s rotating list before advising you whether I think it is worth your spending $718 to get a second rating. Or, I may tell you that I think we can spend just $283 to have a rating doctor review the rating without another exam. Or, I may think that the original rating doctor may revise his rating after I send a letter advising him of an error I’ve found. The client remains in control each step, and is usually free to accept the amount offered by the insurer without risk of losing what was offered initially.
If I think there is a good chance of my improving the percentage offered, I typically suggest an attorney fee that is a contingency percentage of the difference between what was offered by the insurer and what we ultimately obtain. For example, if the injured worker is offered a 7% PPD, and I am able to increase that to a 10%, my fee would be a percentage of the difference between the 7% and 10%. In other words, the fee would be a percentage of the extra 3% only. If I am not successful in increasing the 7% PPD, no fee would be owed. Whether we proceed with trying to obtain something greater than the 7% would of course involve my careful analysis of any risk of losing the original 7% offered.
What the contingency fee I charge on these types of cases varies depending on what work I think will be involved on my part. Do you also have issues pertaining to vocational rehabilitation that will need my help? Are you likely to want to reopen your case for more medical care in the future, and need my help with that? Or, do we anticipate that your case will only be about the PPD award? I think you will find that I charge fair and reasonable fees. My business depends on satisfied clients who find my services to be valuable and worth the attorneys’ fees I charge for helping you.