Workers’ Compensation Agency releases magistrate disposition statistics covering period January 1, 2019 through May 31, 2019.
The Workers’ Compensation Agency (WCA) has published magistrate disposition statistics as of May 31, 2019. This shows 1 additional open award, 2 denials, and 5 miscellaneous dispositions in Q2. These low numbers are disheartening because plaintiffs are still weary of proceeding to trial on the merits of their claims. They are opting to settle instead of risking everything.
By way of background, an open award is when the magistrate orders the employer/insurance carrier to pay continuing wage loss benefits and medical treatment. A closed award is when a magistrate orders payment of some wage loss benefits and/or medical treatment. A denial results in no payment of any workers’ compensation benefits.
Not many plaintiffs are choosing to proceed to trial because of the difficult burden of proof. It is not enough to show they cannot perform their job because of a workplace injury. They must consider other jobs that could be available to them and prove they are unable to obtain employment. A very difficult task that requires hiring a vocational expert. Plaintiffs who are found to be only partially disabled will not receive full wage loss benefits. We had a client see his weekly checks reduced from nearly $500.00 to $19.00 just because of 1 job posting on a website. Settlement becomes an attractive option when faced with financial ruin.
Plaintiffs with preexisting medical conditions have it even tougher. It is not enough to show that a workplace injury caused symptoms forcing a person to stop working or need medical treatment. It must be proven that a medically distinguishable condition exists because of the work injury. Deposition testimony from a physician will be required and that typically costs thousands of dollars to obtain. Considering that almost everyone has some preexisting arthritis, this issue is present in all our cases. Insurance company doctors are notorious for saying that problems are simply the result of a degenerative condition.
Magistrates are responsible for deciding the facts and law for each disputed workers’ compensation case. Their backgrounds shape how they view witness testimony and medical evidence. It is critical to know what they believe about specific legal issues before trial. For example, what types of injuries are truly disabling? What is considered a “good-faith” job search to qualify for full wage loss benefits? Who is a credible doctor?
It is a good idea to have any workers’ compensation case evaluated by an experienced attorney. The initial telephone consultation should always free. Michigan law also regulates attorney fees limiting them to 15% of the first $25,000.00 and 10% on the remainder for a disputed case.
We believe magistrate disposition statistics are helpful when evaluating a case for settlement or trial. Use the chart reproduced below to see how many open/closed/denied/misc. awards have been given by individual magistrates so far in 2019.
Michigan Workers Comp Lawyers never charges a fee to evaluate a potential case. Our law firm has represented injured and disabled workers exclusively for more than 35 years. Call (844) 316-8033 for a free consultation today.