According to a published report by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), the CDC, and the U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), 2.8 people out of every 100 full-time employees suffer workplace injuries or illnesses. In 2019, the highest reported injuries were recorded in the healthcare, retail trade, and manufacturing industries.
If you’re injured at the workplace, you may need a workers’ compensation attorney to help you. Why? Read on to understand.
A workers’ compensation attorney helps victims of workplace accidents claim compensation. These accidents may be a result of negligence or carelessness. The compensation could be for the pain suffered and financial losses as a result of the injuries.
Some workplace accidents could lead to serious injuries such as permanent brain damage. Such victims often work in hazardous environments, which include manufacturing factories and warehouses.
Unfortunately, most insurance companies often dispute the victims’ claims. While some may withdraw their cases, others try their best to navigate the complicated workers’ compensation laws on their own.
To increase your chances of approval, it’s essential to hire an experienced attorney. Below are things a workers’ comp lawyer will do to help you get your claim approved:
To file a workers’ compensation claim, you must have enough evidence to prove the injuries you suffered resulted from negligence. Lack of enough evidence is one of the primary reasons why most claims are denied. When you have enough medical and vocational evidence to support your claim, you are more likely to win the case.
Your attorney will help you compile all the evidence to build a strong case. They will do this by:
Collecting all your medical records
Recommending and sometimes arranging treatments with specific medical experts
Hiring independent medical experts to get medical opinions for your injuries
Representing you in depositions
Deposing medical experts and other third parties involved
A well-experienced workers’ compensation lawyer will examine your case and determine the correct evidence to collect based on your claim’s weaknesses and strengths.
They can also collect the below types of evidence to improve your chances of approval:
Statements from witnesses, family members, and friends about how you conduct your daily activities
Evidence of previous cases of negligence and poor safety conditions in your company
Experts testimony about your vocation’s physical or safety necessities
These three additional types of evidence could improve your chances of approval. Hiring an attorney to help you collect evidence is the best option as it allows you to focus on getting better.
An attorney understands the dirty tactics used by insurance companies to deny claims. They can also estimate how much your case deserves in benefits. This estimation is based on the below factors:
Current medical bills
The estimated cost of future additional treatment
How extensive your injuries are
Any permanent disability suffered
Financial losses incurred such as lost wages
In addition to negotiating the best settlement for you, your attorney will also ensure that the agreement is well-written to avoid future negative consequences. For example, if you filed a wrongly-written Social Security Disability agreement, you may lose hundreds of dollars monthly due to workers’ compensation offset.
If you and the insurance company cannot reach an agreement, your case will be taken to a workers’ compensation judge for a trial or a hearing. During the trial process, your attorney will be responsible for:
Conducting legal research
Preparing your motions and petitions
Submitting all relevant documents on time
Cross-examining the witnesses
Present opening and closing statements
It’s your attorney’s responsibility to argue the case for you before the judge. They will also help you file an appeal if you are unsatisfied with the case’s results.
In some cases, your attorney may also advise you to file a personal injury lawsuit. Third-party suits target other people or entities whose negligence contributed to your injuries. Such parties may include careless drivers or faulty equipment manufacturers.
Your attorney may recommend you file a personal injury claim instead of a workers’ compensation claim as they are more valuable. This is because you can claim damages for loss of future prospective earnings and pain suffered due to the injury. It’s your lawyer’s job to advise if you’re eligible for other benefits such as wage reimbursement, rehabilitation assistance, Social Security disability, and state short-term disability benefits.
While most employees settle claims without a lawyer, there are cases where companies need legal advice. These instances include:
When insurance companies reject a claim, the employee has the right to file an appeal. In such cases, some insurance companies often appoint an attorney for the business owner to help them through the appeal process.
After filling a claim with the right labor authorities, the victim may choose to accept or reject your insurer’s settlement offer. If they accept the offer on the table, they often relinquish the right to sue your company in the future. But, if they reject the offer, they may opt to file a lawsuit instead.
In such cases, the company can hire an attorney to help with the lawsuit. The resulting legal costs, including the attorney’s retainer, are often covered in the liability insurance, which is included in most workers’ compensation policies.
If your business doesn’t have the right workers’ compensation coverage, you will likely be contacted by OSHA representatives. It’s essential to hire a lawyer in such a case.
If one of your employees is injured, and your company doesn’t have the proper insurance coverage, you may be accountable for the resulting medical costs. The state may also file a lawsuit against your company or fine you for the violation.
After suffering a workplace injury, below are some essential steps you should take:
Let your employer know about the injury and ask them to fill an incident report as soon as possible
Seek medical help immediately to avoid permanent damage
Keep a record of all details about the incident
File a report with your state’s Department of labor
Contact an experienced workers’ compensation attorney immediately
Hundreds of people who suffer workplace injuries get their claims rejected because they don’t know what to do after the incident. Delay in getting medical attention may lead to severe neck, back, knee, and head injuries. Don’t assume the pain will magically disappear after a good night’s sleep; it’s better to be safe than sorry.
You should always consider hiring an attorney at any time you are negotiating with an insurance company. Attorneys have the legal knowledge and experience to fight a dispute against an insurance company.
Below are examples of when it’s best to hire an attorney after a workplace injury:
Workers’ compensation claims are denied for various reasons. Some of which include filling the claim too late or lack of enough supporting evidence. You should hire an attorney to help you through the appeal process. Your lawyer will file the required papers, gather enough evidence, and represent you during the hearing.
In most work injury claims, the victim often suffers a permanent disability. This results in permanent disability benefits. To calculate this type of benefit, a doctor has to assign a permanent disability rating. However, the insurance company may dispute your rating.
In such cases, the insurer will appoint a doctor to conduct an Independent Medical Examination (IME). This doctor is likely to lower the disability rating. The insurer will use this as an excuse to pay you fewer benefits. In such a case, it’s wise to hire an experienced workers’ compensation attorney who will fight to ensure you get a fair settlement.
Most insurance companies delay or deny payment approvals for costly treatments such as head surgeries. Your attorney can fight the insurance company to ensure that payment for the required medical treatment is approved on time.
This is one of the tricks insurance companies use to deny victim claims. They often look for pre-existing medical conditions to blame your symptoms. If you suspect you’re a victim of this trick, contact an attorney immediately.
Workers’ compensation lawyers have the experience to deal with such cases. They will help convince the judge that the injury resulted from your work activities.
If you suffer a work injury, you could decide to fight the insurance company alone or hire an attorney. Hiring a workers’ compensation attorney will ensure you get a fair settlement. The attorney will also ensure the settlement also covers future financial losses such as medical costs.
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