You’ve been injured at work. You’re scared because you’re unable to work, you’ve got medical bills, and you aren’t sure what to do after filing a workman’s comp claim. It’s common to feel nervous or worried about your situation. You submitted this workman’s compensation claim, but you’re unsure if you need to hire a lawyer. So, when should you hire a lawyer for worker’s comp?
There are various situations where you should consider hiring a worker’s compensation lawyer. These include when you have a pre-existing condition, when benefits are being delayed or when your insurance company isn’t paying for treatment. Other possible reasons to hire a worker’s comp lawyer include if you might have a claim against a third party, you’re facing retaliation for your claim, you’re receiving other government benefits, or if the injury has caused permanent disability.
While there are situations where you won’t need a lawyer. You should still seek out a consultation with an attorney. They will often provide the consultation for free and can tell you if you need legal counsel. Often, they won’t get paid unless you do, so you have nothing to fear if you hire an attorney.
Looking for a worker’s comp lawyer or law firm? Check out this site, where you can get a free, no-hassle consultation from a friendly and knowledgeable worker’s compensation lawyer in your area.
What Are the Top Reasons to Hire a Worker’s Comp Lawyer?
You Have a Pre-Existing Condition
The most common tactic insurance companies and employers use to deny a worker’s compensation claim is to blame a pre-existing condition. They will tell you that your pre-existing condition is what actually caused the ailment or injury. This way, they can say it was not a workplace injury. However, a pre-existing condition doesn’t necessarily disqualify you from receiving benefits.
Benefits Are Being Delayed
Often, employers and insurance companies will simply wait out the clock. They may request more time to investigate, saying they need more information. Your employer may also cause the delay due to improper procedures, losing papers, or malicious negligence.
You Might Have a Claim Against a Third Party
If your injury occurs at work because of faulty equipment, you may have a civil case against the equipment manufacturer. In this case, a worker’s compensation lawsuit would occur, and legal counsel would be necessary.
The Insurance Company Won’t Pay for Treatment Your Doctor Recommends
Even if your injury has healed, your body might not be able to return to work yet. If you tear your ACL while working in a manufacturing facility, you won’t be able to go back to work the day after surgery. It can take months of physical therapy to get your body back into working order. However, insurance will often say many treatments are unnecessary, even when they obviously are.
You’re Facing Retaliation for Your Claim
You have a legal right to pursue worker’s compensation if you get injured while at work. If your boss or other coworkers are retaliating against you because of that, you will want to seek legal counsel to defend your rights and potentially pursue legal action.
You’re Receiving Other Government Benefits
If you receive Social Security disability insurance or other government benefits because of your injury, this will affect your worker’s compensation payment. By working with an attorney, you will be able to minimize the impact this has on your payment or potentially eliminate it.
Related: What Do Social Security Lawyers Do?
The Injury Has Caused Permanent Disability
Unfortunately, the most serious claims, those that involve a permanent disability because of a workplace injury, are the most likely to be contested. Insurance companies do not want to pay these expensive claims, and they will do everything in their power to deny you your worker’s compensation.
Related: When Should You Hire a Personal Injury Lawyer?
When Should I Not Hire a Worker’s Comp Lawyer?
Although it is best to always get a consultation first, there are instances where you might not need a lawyer for your worker’s compensation claim.
You Don’t Miss Any Work
These claims are straightforward and are so low in value there’s no point in fighting them.
The Injury is Minor, With Little Treatment Need
Like the section above, these minor cases are very simple, and the worker’s comp system will handle these cases easily and efficiently.
Your Employer Acknowledges What Happened and its Occurence at Work
The most common arguments employers make when arguing a comp case is that it’s not actually that bad or that the injury didn’t actually happen at work. If they acknowledge all of this, there aren’t many ways for them to dispute the case.
Can I Hire a Worker’s Comp Lawyer After I’ve Been Denied?
This is partially dependent on the state you live in. The exact process for a worker’s comp denial appeal varies by state. Typically, however, the first level of an appeal will be a hearing that you have before an administrative law judge. This is where you can present your medical evidence and other evidence to support your claim and where it might be a good idea to hire a lawyer.
However, you might not necessarily need to hire a lawyer for your claim denial. What are the most common reasons a claim is denied is because you missed a deadline of some sort or you failed to file certain paperwork. Your mileage may vary in terms of which judge you get, but these types of clerical mistakes can be cleared up quickly.
That being said, before you actually file the appeal, you should absolutely talk to an attorney. Appeals are a complicated process that involves a lot of rules, procedures, and other complications that you are expected to know. If you’re going to appeal a decision that’s already been made, you need to have a good reason and good proof as to why it shouldn’t have been denied.
What Does a Worker’s Comp Lawyer Do?
You may be wondering to yourself what exactly a worker’s compensation attorney will actually do for your case. The process for filing a worker’s compensation claim is typically straightforward, so why do you need one?
The most important thing an attorney can provide in a worker’s compensation case is to provide you the knowledge and experience they have to assist you while you’re filling out these documents. They can help you gather the documents that you’re going to need from other parties. They can make sure you’re using the right verbiage in your claim to speed up your cases’ processing.
They can also help you in the case of denial in your worker’s compensation claim. As mentioned previously, when you file an appeal, they expect you to know everything about your case. EVERYTHING. So one slip-up, miss filed paperwork, or a missed deadline, and you can kiss any hopes of an appeal goodbye. Having somebody whose job it is to know these laws and procedures inside and out on your side could be the difference between success and failure.
How Much Does a Worker’s Comp Lawyer Cost?
Often, worker’s compensation lawyers will only charge you a percentage of your settlement. There are cases where they may charge beforehand, but that’s very rare. Doing so makes them less competitive than other lawyers.
The fees that your lawyer will charge you vary on a state-by-state basis, just like the appeal process in case of a denial. Some states have very specific rules in regards to how much they can charge you.
In California, they can only charge between 10% and 15%, depending on the case’s complexity. However, in New York, the worker’s compensation judge is responsible for setting the attorney fee that you are responsible for paying.
Because there is so much variance in the cost of a worker’s compensation attorney, It might be good to look at the numbers. Let’s say you’re set to receive a $4,000 settlement for your worker’s compensation claim.
Now, imagine you bring a lawyer in, and they are able to renegotiate this settlement for $7,500. Even if they charge a 20% fee for your case. You still wind up with $6,000 for your worker’s compensation.
In this scenario, the lawyer was well worth it! Obviously, not every case is going to be like this, but frequently you will wind up with a better end result than you would have if you had simply completed the claim by yourself.
The easiest way to determine how much a specific lawyer will charge you is to simply ask them. Often they will offer a free initial consultation of 30 minutes to an hour and discuss your case with you.
They may tell you that you don’t need an attorney at all, or they may say that the case is highly complex or high-stakes, in which case you want to ensure that you give yourself every possibility to receive as much as possible for your workplace injury.
Final Thoughts – When To Hire a Worker’s Comp Lawyer
It’s scary when an injury occurs at work. It’s even scarier when you don’t know what to do. Luckily, there are professionals whose sole job is to ensure that you are represented in your worker’s compensation case and given the best chance possible to receive the maximum amount for your worker’s compensation case.
Carefully go over your options and needs before you decide, but remember that you can always get a free consultation from a worker’s compensation attorney. They’re there to help you, and they seldom get paid until you do.
So before you send in your documentation, call your local worker’s compensation attorney and schedule that consultation. You’ll better understand your case, and you’ll know whether hiring an attorney is best for you.
Don’t wait. Get a free consultation from a highly recommended and reputable worker’s comp lawyer in your area HERE.