We love supporting our ambassadors as they impact the world with their own focus on wellness and self care. We sat down with Stacy, an attorney with Dworken & Bernstein who focuses on workers' compensation and unemployment law to ask her a few questions. Check out their responses, and be sure to contact her if you have a need!
Introduce yourself/how long have you been in your current profession?
I am Stacy Callen, an attorney with Dworken & Bernstein. My focus is on workers’ compensation and unemployment law, both administratively and in litigation. I became an attorney in 2010; however, due to my work in two law firms prior to graduating law school, I have been working in the field of workers’ compensation since 2003.
How did you end up working with workers’ compensation?
My first job after graduating college was working at a law firm in workers’ compensation defense. In 2005, I changed sides of the table and started working at a Plaintiff’s law firm. I worked there through law school and after passing the bar exam, I started my career as a workers’ compensation attorney. My interest in helping hardworking people and educating workers as to their legal rights is why I chose to be a Plaintiff’s attorney.
What advice do you have for someone who thinks they might have a workers’ compensation claim?
The most important advice is to get an attorney’s opinion. In my experience, some people shy away from an initial consult because they don’t think that they can afford an attorney, while others do not see themselves as a person who pursues a legal dispute. However, just getting an opinion from an attorney is everyone’s right. Any consult is protected by attorney-client privilege. This means that no one can know that you spoke with attorney unless you tell them. No attorney can discuss your meeting because it’s protected by attorney-client privilege. The legal system is set up to protect discussions such as these so that anyone can get legal advice and be 100% honest about their situation without any repercussions.
Any major dos/don’ts for workers when it comes to workers’ compensation claims?
(1) report an injury as soon as possible;
(2) seek immediate medical attention;
(3) read all of the mail that comes to you from the Bureau of Workers’ Compensation or your employer as some of the letters have deadlines that must be met;
(4) explain to your doctor how your injury occurred and whether you had any pre-existing problems so that your doctor can make an informed decision about whether your medical condition is related to your work injury;
(5) seek a legal opinion so that you are aware of your rights and options;
(6) keep a log of the days following the event, noting medical appointments, who you reported your injury to, time off work, difficulties you are having, etc.
Don’t (the opposite of the above!):
(1) wait to alert your employer about an injury;
(2) wait to seek medical attention;
(3) give conflicting versions of your injury; just tell the truth consistently. How the incident occurred matters and the more versions you tell, the less credible you are as a witness;
(4) attend a hearing on your own; once a hearing goes forward, it’s harder for any attorney stepping in to your case to turn the ship around;
(5) provide information to anyone about your injury unless you understand who they are and what role they play in your claim.
What is the most common workers’ compensation injury that you see?
I see all different types of injuries, but I would say spine injuries are definitely most common. The spine is a body part that is hard to ignore because almost every function is affected by pain (sitting, standing, walking, sleeping, lifting, etc.).
The most common mechanism of injury that I see is lifting or slipping/falling. Proper lifting techniques are important to prevent injury. Also be aware of the presence of any hazards in your work environment that could cause you to slip or fall.
Also, there are some injuries that people may not initially think would be covered by workers’ compensation. An example would be carpal tunnel syndrome, which can be caused by overuse of your hands. I see this with workers who do data entry all day and construction workers/welders/laborers who use hand tools for multiple hours per day.
I would love to hear from anyone who has questions about whether they are eligible for workers’ compensation. I listen to people and then educate them about what options are available. I try to work with each individual client and advise them about what is best for their particular situation. Please reach out to me at:
Stacy M. Callen, Esq.
Dworken & Bernstein, Co., LPA