The workers’ compensation system was intended to be non-adversarial and to give injured workers fast and fair benefits following an injury. Sometimes it works that way – but often it does not. When things get complicated, it’s usually time to hire a workers’ compensation lawyer.
There are several factors to consider when you’re deciding whether you should hire a lawyer for your workers’ compensation claim. As a general rule, it’s wise to hire an attorney if any of the following situations apply to you:
- The employer or insurance carrier denies your claim.
You won’t receive any benefits if your workers’ compensation claim has been denied. If you’re out of work due to your injury and your claim is denied, then you won’t collect any disability pay. That means you’ll be forced to use your own sick time or to simply be out of work without any pay at all. It also means that your medical bills won’t be paid through workers’ comp, and even if you have health insurance you’ll still get stuck paying deductibles and co-pays.
The only way to force the workers’ compensation carrier to accept your claim is to challenge their denial through the state’s labor board. Of course, the insurance company is hoping that you won’t fight them – they routinely reject bona fide claims and many workers just ignore it. Hiring a workers’ comp attorney will ensure your fair opportunity to receive the compensation that you are entitled.
- Your injury or medical condition keeps you from doing your job.
If you’ve sustained an injury or disease the prevents you from going back to your former job, you are probably entitled to ongoing disability benefits. Even if your employer is allowing you to work “light duty,” you still might be entitled to disability pay. As time goes on, your case may become very expensive for the insurance company and they will almost certainly attempt to cut off your benefits. Hiring an experienced workers’ comp lawyer can be essential to protecting your financial security now and in the future.
- Your employer is giving you a hard time, or is retaliating against you because of your workers’ comp claim.
If you’ve been discriminated against because you filed a workers’ compensation claim, a lawyer can help protect your rights. Keep in mind that discrimination can occur in a number of ways; it’s not just getting fired. If you’ve had your hours reduced, your pay cut, or if you’ve been demoted – you might be a victim of discrimination.
- You’ve been offered an unfair settlement.
If you’ve been offered a settlement from the insurance company and you don’t think it’s fair, then you should contact a workers’ comp lawyer. It’s not uncommon for insurance companies to offer unrepresented workers a raw deal – knowing that the worker may not fully understand the law or the extent of benefits they might otherwise collect. Settlements can be appropriate in the right cases, but they also present certain risks. If you’re unsure about what you’ve been offered, contact a lawyer right away.
- You were injured because of another person’s (or company’s) negligence.
If you were hurt because someone other than your employer caused your injury, then you may be entitled to additional recovery outside the workers’ compensation system. Although the workers’ comp law prevents you from suing your employer for your work injury, you can still pursue a civil action against someone else (a “third party”). The most common third-party situations occur when a negligent driver crashes into a worker who is driving while on the job. Hiring an attorney in these situations gives you the chance to recover compensation beyond the limits of workers’ comp.
You probably don’t need to hire a workers’ comp lawyer if all the following are true:
- Your injury is minor and you expect to recover quickly;
- You won’t miss much time from work because of your injury; and
- The employer and insurance company voluntarily accept your claim and promptly pay your benefits.
Still, keep in mind that every situation is unique. If you’re not sure whether you need an attorney for your case, contact us. Edgewise Law will be happy to discuss your claim at no charge. If you end up hiring Edgewise Law to represent you, there will be no up-front legal fees because we only get paid based on a percentage of a future settlement or award. In other words, you have nothing to lose by reaching out.
On the other hand, insurance companies often have teams of lawyers and plenty of money at their disposal to retain their own legal counsel.
Don’t get taken advantage. Call Edgewise Law today.