Attorney at Law
I have seen many, many contracts, especially in the entertainment industry, where clients will hire talent as independent contractors, that require arbitrating in the event of a dispute. The talent can be crew for a film, actors, or voice over artists for any variety of projects.
What is an arbitration clause? It looks something like this: "ARBITRATION: Any controversy or claim arising out of this agreement or any breach thereof shall be settled by arbitration in accordance with the rules of the American Arbitration Association."
This at first blush looks great to many people. "If any dispute arises, we won't have to hire a lawyer, or go to Court" is what people first say. However, what if you aren't paid under your contract? And suppose your contract is under $5,000.00, like many of these contracts are? What is the ramification of this clause?
Well, the American Arbitration Association published its amended and updated rates effective today, May 1, 2018. Here they are: http://info.adr.org/feeschedule/
What it means is that to file for Arbitration will cost you $925, and it will cost an additional $800 to have a hearing. $1,725.00 just for filing fees. That puts a big dent in the amount you are due. Contrast this to filing a small claim in Connecticut Court for $95 for any dispute under $5,000.00. Many small claims Courts do not require attorneys.
So, for many contracts, I would think long and hard before agreeing to an arbitration clause. In fact, paying a couple of hundred dollars to an attorney to review the contract before you sign it would probably be well worth the investment.
The short answer is YES! I have seen way too many people attempting to handle their worker's compensation cases on their own (also known as pro se in the legal profession.) Many employers or others tell people "you don't need a lawyer for a comp case." This is such a huge mistake in my opinion. Worker's compensation is one of the most complex areas of law, filled with statutes, forms and regulations. Many lawyers do not even understand the intricacies of worker's compensation practice, and it is why it is one of the few practice areas in Connecticut to have its own speciality designation. I see claimant's needlessly struggling with their cases and against insurance companies who have attorneys dedicated to defending these claims day after day. Why do they do this? That is the million dollar question. I think the reason is because people believe they can't afford a lawyer to help them. This is the best part! Because unlike other practice areas, attorneys can only charge 20% of the final permanency award, or final settlement amount, so it does not cost the Claimant any up front amounts out of their pockets. My other theory is that people are intimidated by lawyers. I would be willing to bet the above mentioned million dollars that an attorney who understands the system will get more money for the Claimant's in a shorter period of time, then Claimant's can achieve on their own. I am not only a Worker's Compensation specialist as designated by the Connecticut Bar Association, but I also used to be one of those attorneys who defended the insurance company. Why not schedule a FREE consultation with me today, and see that I'm not intimidating at all. Except to those insurance companies!
Over my many years of practicing, as both a former insurance company defense attorney, and a worker's compensation specialist, I have come across patterns of things people do when they get injured on the job. Many people who get injured do not report the injury right away for various reasons. Some think the injury is "minor" and it will go away on its own, so they don't report it. Others are ashamed that they got hurt and are embarrassed and are worried that people will think they are "clumsy" and will make fun of them. Still others are dead afraid that they will get fired from their job, or some other adverse action will happen to them, like getting "written" up, so they don't report the injury.
The one thing in common though, in these scenarios, is that the injury they sustained inevitably gets worse, doesn't heal, and then they are forced to go to the doctor. Since they didn't report the injury right away, then this reporting could become problematic on getting the insurance company to cover the injury.
So, as I always advise DON'T be afraid or ashamed of the fact that you got hurt while performing your duties! Many, many people get injured. You owe it to yourself and your loved ones to get the medical attention and compensation you are entitled to under the law in the unfortunate event that you are injured. Remember, worker's compensation laws were written to benefit both the injured worker, AND the employer so don't let shame or fear keep you from exercising the rights the law gives you.
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