Workers’ Compensation Lawyer. A workers’ compensation lawyer provides important legal assistance when you seek compensation for a work injury. After you get hurt on the job, you cannot generally sue your employer.
Instead, your employer’s workers’ comp insurer should offer you compensation for your injuries. And you are entitled to this compensation for any injuries resulting from work duties, even if your employer was not negligent.
Workers’ Compensation Lawyer
Ideally, you and the workers’ comp insurer will be able to negotiate a settlement. If you cannot settle, your claim can proceed to a hearing before a workers’ compensation law judge. An attorney assists you with both the settlement negotiation process and a hearing if one becomes necessary to get you the money you deserve.
What is Workers’ Compensation Law?
Workers’ compensation laws are governed by each state’s legislation and by federal statutes. Both provide fixed awards to employees or their dependents in the event of employment-related accidents and diseases.
These statutorily-prescribed awards enable the injured worker to receive compensation without initiating legal action against an employer. The various state acts differ concerning the type of workers covered, the amount and duration of benefits, and other details.
Federal employees are covered by several laws, including the Federal Employees Compensation Act, the Jones Act for seamen, and the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act for longshore and harbor workers.
The effect of most workers’ comp laws is to make the employer strictly liable for injuries sustained in the course of employment, without regard to the negligence of the employer or the employee.
The injury must arise in the course and scope of employment to give rise to a valid claim, and an employee-employer relationship must exist.
Advantages Of Hiring a Workers’ Compensation Lawyer
Here are some advantages of hiring a workers’ compensation lawyer:
Proper Filing of Paperwork
A workers’ compensation lawyer ensures that all the necessary paperwork is filled out properly and filed on time. While this may seem harmless at first glance, clerical errors, and missed deadlines are among the top reasons why workers’ comp claims are denied.
Better Chance of Higher Settlement
While there’s no guarantee that your claim will be successful, having an experienced attorney increases your chances of getting all the benefits you’re entitled to and for as long as possible. A 2018 study by insurtech Clara Analytics has revealed that injured employees who hire a workers’ compensation lawyer receive five times more payout than those who don’t.
Peace Of Mind
If you’re hurt while doing your job, the last thing you want is to worry about how to navigate the system. With a workers’ compensation lawyer, you can be sure that someone is protecting your best interests and working hard to get the benefits you are entitled to. This also allows you to focus on your recovery.
Access To Additional Resources
Enlisting the services of a lawyer also gives you access to resources that you may otherwise not have. If your claim requires you to prove the full extent of your injury, for instance, your attorney may help provide access to their network of medical experts.
Employers and insurers have lawyers to handle workers’ comp claims. By hiring your attorney, you have someone to negotiate on your behalf. If your claim is denied, your workers’ compensation lawyer can also appeal your case.
Disadvantages Of Hiring a Workers’ Compensation Lawyer
Some of the disadvantages are as follows:
Strained Relationship with Your Employer
Attorney involvement can negatively affect your relationship with your employer. While your employer is legally prohibited from retaliating, whatever positive relationship you may have with them may be irreparably damaged, even if you get to keep your job.
The Process Becomes Complex and Time-Consuming
If you’re looking for a quick resolution to your claim, then hiring an attorney may not be the best option. Legal proceedings take time and there’s no way around it. And even if your lawyer does most of the legwork, they will also need your commitment and cooperation to be effective.
Success Is Not Guaranteed
While hiring a specialist lawyer can improve your chances of having your claim accepted and receiving a higher settlement, these are not always guaranteed. Every worker’s comp claim is unique, and its success depends largely on the validity of the evidence you present.
5 Reasons You Need a Workers’ Comp Lawyer
Here are some reasons why you should consider finding a workers’ comp lawyer:
They’ll Help You Understand the Process
The workers’ compensation process is difficult to understand, and laws vary by state. An expert can translate legalese into English for you. They can also track your claim, so you never have to worry about forgetting paperwork or missing deadlines.
A Lawyer Will Help You Gather Evidence
To support your claim, you may need evidence like medical records and statements from witnesses. This information is especially hard to gather when you’re injured and stressed. A lawyer will handle that work for you.
You Will Get a Bigger Payout
Studies show that settlement payouts for workers’ comp claims with a lawyer are five times higher than claims without a lawyer. Even if your injury was minor and you don’t think you’ll get much compensation, a lawyer can explain your options and maximize anything you receive.
They Can Work with Uncooperative Employers
In some cases, your employer might not be immediately cooperative with the process. A lawyer can help move things along if your company isn’t filing your claim or even denies your injury happened while working.
Appeals and Hearings Are Hard to Win on Your Own
You’ll especially need a lawyer if your claim is denied. In this case, you have a certain amount of time to appeal the denial. Then you need to gather evidence to support your claim and get the decision changed.
Roles And Duties of a Workers’ Compensation Lawyer
The roles and duties of a workers’ compensation lawyer are:
Offer a Free Consultation
If you are thinking you should or can’t involve a lawyer in your case because of how much a worker’s compensation lawyer costs, reconsider. The vast majority of lawyers representing regular folks tangled up in the legal system—including injured workers—begin with a no-cost consultation, a get-acquainted meeting in which the attorney evaluates the case and recommends a course of action. Based on that, the potential client decides whether to sign on.
Negotiate A Settlement With The Insurance Company
At some point, your insurance company may decide to pursue a settlement. If you haven’t been represented by a lawyer to this point, now is the time to act. Experienced workers comp lawyers have an excellent grasp of the value of your case, especially in regions of the country where employees use specialized machinery, and/or handle high-risk responsibilities.
Represent You at The Hearing or Trial
A worker’s comp lawyer will make certain you have the best possible chance to prevail if your case gets to a hearing or trial. Typically, the phases include these legal activities:
. Discovery, or the investigation of your claim. This may involve taking depositions of witnesses, requesting medical records, and performing legal research.
. Pleadings, or readying the documents necessary to pursue your case. These may include petitions, motions, and responses to insurance company claims or questions.
. Representation at the hearing or trial. Your lawyer will describe your theory of the case — the reason(s) you should receive benefits—make opening and closing arguments, question witnesses, and raise objections if counsel for the insurance company acts improperly.
Gather Evidence to Support Your Claim
Every insurance company’s business model is the same. Workers’ compensation companies are no different. Sharp, responsible workers comp lawyers anticipate the inevitable pushback from claims adjusters by assembling evidence to support your claim “Ultimately, the burden is on [the employee] to prove that the accident happened, that it was in the course of their employment, and that their injuries are related to the work accident”.
Assist With Navigating Medical Treatment and Exams
In most states, doctors treating injured workers are selected by the employer’s insurance company. Don’t like the assigned physician? There’s good news: You may ask to switch. Ominous news: You may ask to switch only once. And the bad news: The sub will come from the same insurer’s doctor pool. There is some wiggle room: The insurer has five days to identify your new doctor. If it misses the deadline, the selection is yours to make.
Appeal Your Claim Denial
Occasionally, workers’ compensation claims get denied. “The system is very sophisticated,” Strong says. “It’s easy for insurance companies to deny claims.” Insurers may cite an assortment of reasons for denying the claim. Your injury doesn’t meet the statutory requirements for compensation. You’re attempting to present a pre-existing injury as a workplace injury. You haven’t provided the necessary medical documentation. You missed the deadline. And so it goes.
Having an attorney on your side means removing legal landmines before they become a problem. Their experience guides them in the questions to ask, the documents to assemble, the evidence to present, and the arguments to make.
Maximize the Benefits Available to You
We mentioned above that workplace accidents involving injuries sometimes involve outside contributors. Perhaps an outside contractor performed faulty maintenance, or a tool supplier provided suspect instruments. Oftentimes, employees injured while driving for work may have personal injury claims in addition to workers’ compensation benefits.
Workers’ compensation lawyers also understand how to shape benefits, settlements, and winnings at trial to have the smallest possible impact on the government benefits you earned while working. These may include Workers’ Compensation Medicare Set-Aside Arrangements (a portion of a settlement reserved to pay medical services related to the workplace injury) and/or Social Security Disability Insurance offsets.
Frequently Asked Questions
When Should You Hire a Workers’ Comp Lawyer?
You should make sure you have a lawyer representing you in the following situations:
. Your claim is disputed or denied by your employer or the employer’s insurer.
. Your injuries are serious, life-altering, and/or permanent.
. You cannot agree on a workers’ comp settlement with the insurer.
How Do Workers’ Compensation Lawyers Get Paid?
Most workers’ comp attorneys get paid on a contingency fee basis. They are paid only if they help you recover compensation for your work injuries. The compensation comes out of the lump sum you receive when your case is settled or you are awarded damages in a workers’ compensation hearing.
How Long Does It Take to Settle a Workers’ Comp Case?
Some simple workers’ comp claims are resolved quickly, sometimes within as little as 45 to 60 days. However, most claims can take around four to six months, and especially complex cases can take even longer.