Workplace injuries happen all the time.
In most cases, workers get compensated through the workers’ compensation system. The system itself is an administrative process created to help them.
However, in other instances, workers find themselves in dispute with the insurance company or their employer. This might happen when an employer denies your claim or the settlement doesn’t cover the full cost of your medical bills.
Faced with these difficulties, it’s wise to hire workers comp lawyers. They help you with problems such as your claim being denied and your disability rating put in question. Another common reason to hire them is your boss goes after you for filing a claim.
And despite what many people believe, legal representation doesn’t have to cost a small fortune. In fact, it can be quite affordable.
You often get a consultation for free or for a very reasonable fee. What’s also great is legal professionals work for a contingency fee. In other words, they will earn a percentage of the benefits they help you recover.
Below are the top reasons to seek help from a work comp attorney.
An Insurance Company Denies Your Claim
It’s quite common for employers and insurance companies to deny workers’ comp claims.
The employer will often deny a claim if the injury wasn’t witnessed. In this case, you will need to report the incident to your supervisor and coworkers immediately.
Failing to do so makes insurance companies and employers assume you weren’t really hurt. Notice some states even require you to report the incident within 7 days. It’s also wise to file an incident report as a best practice of complying with the law.
Your claim might be denied for numerous other reasons too, such as a discrepancy between your initial medical report and the incident report.
Other grounds for denying it include:
- The presence of drugs in your system during the time of the accident
- Filing a claim after being fired
- Refusal to sign medical authorizations or give the insurance company a recorded statement
Obviously, workers comp lawyers can help you successfully navigate these tricky situations.
There’s a Dispute Regarding the Permanent Disability Rating
Permanent disability benefits account for the majority of the workers’ comp settlements.
You doctor determines a disability rating based on your ability to perform normal day-to-day activities. After a series of tests, doctors go on to calculate the impairment rating.
The majority of states rely on AMA Guides to the Evaluation of Permanent Impairment. However, some use a modified or completely different set of guidelines. Based on these guidelines, doctors determine the disability rating percentage.
The ratings are usually determined for specific body parts. For example, they can refer to a 20% disability of the left leg or 30% disability of the right arm. At other times, they are stated as whole person impairment (WPI).
There’s a good chance that the insurance company disagrees with your doctor’s evaluation. If that happens, they will choose their own doctor. You will be obliged to attend an independent medical examination (IME).
The doctor will usually assign a significantly lower disability rating than benefits insurance companies. This is another strong reason to hire a workers’ compensation lawyer.
A Third Party Was Involved in the Injury
There are times when a negligent third party is involved in your work injury.
Unfortunately, civil lawsuits for work-related injuries aren’t supported in the workers’ comp system. However, the good news is you may be able to sue the third party outside of the system.
For example, let’s assume you’re hit by a negligent driver while heading to work. This incident opens up an opportunity to sue them outside of the workers’ comp framework.
Secondly, imagine you’re in a car accident while driving your company car to do sales work. Provided you get hit by a third party, you can sue them for damages. Their insurance may cover it even without a lawsuit.
The problem is these situations can get messy and complicated. Thus, it would be wise to consult your lawyer regarding workers’ compensation. In case you were injured by a negligent third party, the best option is to seek out a good personal injury lawyer.
Consult them regarding your rights to get the most out of the situation.
In the Case of a Pre-Existing Condition
If you suffer a work injury but have a pre-existing condition, different rules apply.
Insurance companies will blame the work injury on the previous condition. In this situation, you should also seek help from a workers’ compensation lawyer. Their knowledge of the subject matter is on par with that of the insurance companies.
Furthermore, these cases are particularly complex when they involve repetitive stress injuries.
We’re talking about numerous examples of work injuries that develop slowly over time. Unlike single work accidents, repetitive stress injuries are unfortunately a common thing.
The most vulnerable groups are:
- Construction workers
- Warehouse workers
- Office workers
- Nursing home employees
On a brighter note, the workers’ compensation system provides a remedy for injured workers. These are weekly compensation benefits, permanent impairment benefits, payment of medical treatment and vocational rehabilitation.
If you want to receive workers’ compensation, you will need to file a timely incident report. You can do it via a company’s insurance carrier or human resources department. You will need a report from the doctor indicating that the injury is work-related.
Also, you will probably undergo IMA, which is something an attorney can help you with.
You Receive SSDI Benefits
You might be a recipient of other government benefits, such as social security disability insurance (SSDI).
The problem is these benefits might be significantly reduced if you also receive workers’ compensation benefits. To avoid such a cut, you should think about getting legal representation.
A workers’ comp attorney can assist you in drastically minimizing the reduction in SSDI benefits. You will also have to think about setting aside a certain amount of workers’ comp benefits. This rule is also applicable to workers eligible for Medicare.
They have a much greater chance of securing benefits with a lawyer at their side.
If you wonder whether you’re eligible to receive SSDI benefits, the answer depends on the severity of your injury. In general, you have to prove that you’re medically disabled. Social security will grant benefits only to those not able to make $1090 on a monthly basis.
Workers incapable of performing any kind of work whatsoever also fall into this category.
The Injury has Affected Your Ability to Work
If you were involved in an automobile accident that made you incapable of working ever again, you should try to get a lawyer promptly.
Namely, to maximize the benefits and their longevity, you must structure them accordingly. A lawyer can also help in case you need to switch careers or obtain training for a new position.
For example, people working in nursing homes are subject to countless risks. The illness rates for them are much higher than for any other position. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, nursing home injury rates are four times higher than those of construction jobs!
It’s clear these kinds of occupations require strenuous physical labor. And besides negative effects on overall health, they even may hurt the earning potential.
But, whatever the line of work you’re in, be sure to take action. Get proper legal representation to have a real fighting chance in your case. If the injury you suffered has affected your ability to work, this is a no-brainer.
How Expensive Is a Workers’ Comp Lawyer?
Workers’ compensation lawyers don’t charge a standard hourly fee.
Instead, they feature a contingency fee. This means the lawyer gets paid a percentage of the workers’ comp benefits they help you recover. Most states put caps on how high that percentage can be.
In some states, it goes as low as 10% and as high as 30% in others.
It’s a drop in the bucket compared to everything you stand to gain.
It’s time to Get Serious About Your Workers Compensation
You will always be better off hiring a lawyer than tackling compensations yourself.
You shouldn’t wait to be invited to a workers’ comp hearing. Without help from a professional, the insurance companies will take advantage of your position. They tend to use legal representation to lower the benefits you’re entitled to.
The lawyer has the power of knowledge of law and negotiation on their side. This is to say the chances of getting suitable benefits are immensely higher. As a worker, you have the right to representation as good as that of the insurance company.
So, find a workers comp lawyer that knows how to use the right tools. Let professionals build up your case and you will get the fair compensation you deserve.
For more information on how we can help you, check out our list of services and our blog. And if you want to make the insurance companies pay, contact us right away. We help clients in Jacksonville, Orange Park, Palatka, Stare, and other areas.