If you were injured on the job, you may be wondering "do I need a workers' comp lawyer?" Here are some of the key factors you'll want to consider.
If you have a workers’ comp claim, you may be wondering whether you need to hire a lawyer.
Some workers’ comp claims are straightforward and do not require hiring a lawyer. For instance, if no one disputes your claim and you receive your benefits promptly, then you probably don’t need to hire a workers' compensation attorney.
But many people hire lawyers for their workers’ compensation claims every year. And there are certain situations in which hiring a workers’ comp attorney can be crucial to help you get the benefits you deserve.
Those situations include:
We'll address each of these situations relating to when to hire a workers' comp lawyer in turn.
This one is pretty straightforward -- if your claim is accepted and processed without a fuss, then you probably don’t need to hire a workers' compensation lawyer. But if not, you may need someone to help you navigate the workers’ compensation system and advocate on your behalf.
There are various ways that your employer or their insurance company might dispute your claim, ranging from rejecting the claim outright to disputing certain parts of it.
For instance, some of the ways the insurance company might dispute your claim include:
Anytime the insurance company disputes your claim, you should consider hiring a workers' comp lawyer. In this scenario, you will be able to appeal a denial through the workers’ comp system, but you will generally need to gather evidence and make your case at a hearing. Gathering evidence can include:
An experienced workers’ comp lawyer will be familiar with this process and can put you in a position to succeed.
Here are a couple of ways specific disputes might arise:
Your employer or their insurance company might dispute your claim by disputing your permanent disability rating. Your disability rating could impact how many weeks of workers' compensation benefits you are eligible to receive, the actual amount of those benefits, or both.
And because most workers' comp benefits are awarded for permanent disabilities, if there is a dispute about your permanent disability ranking, it can significantly impact your benefits.
A workers' compensation lawyer can be a critical resource in your efforts to convince a judge or the insurance company that you are entitled to benefits under the higher designation.
The insurance company may try to argue that your injury is the result of your underlying condition as opposed to your “work activities.” This issue often comes up if the injury occurred over time as opposed to in a single accident.
Issues related to your medical treatment or medical circumstances are another set of factors that can make it more important to hire a workers' compensation lawyer.
Examples can include:
Additionally, if your employer makes a settlement offer that does not cover all of your medical expenses or lost wages, it may be worth it to hire a workers' compensation attorney.
Workers' compensation lawyers can help you evaluate what a fair settlement is given your circumstances, if for no other reason than workers' comp lawyers handle more claims than the injured workers who may be encountering the claims process for the first time after their injury.
Workers’ comp benefits could reduce the amount of Social Security disability benefits you can receive. A workers' compensation attorney can help ensure you get the maximum combined benefits from workers’ comp and SSDI based on the structure of your workers’ comp benefits.
Workers’ comp programs generally prevent you from suing your employer except in certain situations -- for instance, if a third party’s actions or your employer’s intentional conduct caused your injuries. In such situations, you are allowed to sue outside of workers’ comp regimes (such as in a personal injury lawsuit).
A workers’ comp lawyer can help you understand if you can sue under the applicable law.
If your employer has retaliated against you for filing your workers’ comp claim, you may be able to file a separate employment law claim.
Your employer may not fire you, demote you, or decrease your hours or pay in response to a workers’ comp claim.
You should consider hiring a lawyer if you think you have been subject to retaliation by your employer.
Let us find you the right lawyer at the right price.
First: it is important to understand how much a workers’ compensation lawyer costs.
As an overview, you should know that workers' comp lawyers generally charge contingency fees. That means your workers’ comp lawyer only gets paid if you win.
Additionally, many workers' compensation lawyers offer a free consultation making it easy to have that first conversation and evaluate your options.
Second: workers’ comp settlements must be approved by a judge, but this only provides limited protection for claimants.
Usually, a settlement must be grossly unfair for the judge to reject it, which is a far cry from ensuring that you are getting the benefits you deserve. The only way to ensure that is to hire a workers’ comp lawyer who will fight for the maximum benefits you are entitled to.
There are several ways an experienced workers' comp lawyer can help you navigate the claims process.
Workers' comp lawyers can help file the necessary paperwork in a timely manner, meet any relevant deadlines, and generally navigate the workers' compensation process. And if you are an injured worker, this can be a tremendous help considering you have a lot on your plate and likely haven't navigated the workers' comp claims process before.
Attorneys who have handled workers' comp cases in the past will be able to handle potential settlement discussions with your employer and their insurance company, and can help you evaluate whether a particular offer would be fair compensation given your medical bills, lost wages, and whatever other circumstances apply to your case.
And if your employer denies your claim, they can represent you at the workers' comp hearing or trial and advocate on your behalf for a positive outcome.
If you only suffered a minor injury and your case is straightforward, you probably don't need to hire a workers' comp attorney. And many people can handle their own workers' compensation claim in such situations.
But there are certain situations in which hiring a workers’ comp attorney can be crucial in getting you the benefits you deserve. Generally, it can make more sense to hire a workers' comp lawyer if:
In these circumstances, an experienced attorney can help you navigate the workers' compensation system and make sure you get the benefits you deserve. And because workers' compensation attorneys work on a contingency basis, you don't pay your lawyer unless your claim is successful.
If you do speak with a workers' comp lawyer, here are some of the key questions to ask them to see if they're the right fit for you. And remember, because many workers' compensation attorneys offer a free initial case evaluation, it is often a worthwhile step if you think you might need legal representation.