If you have been injured at your job, this may be your first time needing to file a workers’ compensation claim. You may assume that your claim will go smoothly and that you will receive the benefits you deserve promptly. Sadly, even if you are an exemplary employee, the workers’ compensation claim process can be anything but smooth. That is because the insurance company for your employer has a primary goal of saving money, and they do that by denying and reducing claims—including legitimate ones.
Hiring an Attorney Is the Right Decision in Almost All Workers’ Compensation Cases
In a circumstance where your injuries are minor and you are only off work for a short period of time, you may be able to handle your workers’ compensation claim without the need of an attorney. However, in most cases, hiring a workers' compensation attorney will help you reach a better settlement with the insurance company than you could do on your own. This is because an attorney can do the following:
Use the law to your advantage.
Your lawyer will understand the laws governing workers’ compensation claims. These include the procedural rules and the strict time periods for filing a claim. In addition, he will also know the court decisions that are determining contested issues in workers’ compensation cases that could apply to your situation.
Explain your rights.
Like with any legal claim, you need to understand your legal rights when you file a workers’ compensation claim. You cannot rely on your employer or his insurance company to do the right thing. An attorney can explain your rights to you under workers’ compensation laws so you know what to expect and are not taken advantage of.
Help you get medical care.
An attorney can ensure that you receive the medical care you are entitled to, including having a proper choice of doctors and the medical treatments you need for your injuries. Unfortunately, the insurance company may limit your choice of doctors and attempt to get you to accept treatments that are not as effective but are less expensive if you do not have an attorney fighting for what you deserve.
Value your claim.
An attorney who has a proven success rate and who handles a lot of workers’ compensation cases will know how to value your claim based on the benefits you are entitled to and the strengths and weaknesses of your case.
Help you avoid mistakes.
Employees who try to represent themselves can made inadvertent mistakes, like downplaying their injuries when talking to the insurance adjuster, agreeing to return to work too soon, or not following up on medical treatment. An attorney knows the common mistakes workers make and can advise you along the way so that you do not make an error that could hurt your claim.
Negotiate for you.
Your attorney can take over the burden of providing the necessary documentation to the insurance company and negotiating your claim with the insurance adjuster or their attorney so you can focus on recovering from your injuries. He will know the arguments the adjuster and attorney will use to reduce your claim and will have strategies to defeat them.
Deal with preexisting injuries.
If you have a preexisting injury, the insurance company will almost certainly argue that this caused your problems, not an accident at work. Your attorney will know that you are still entitled to benefits and how to refute these arguments.
Handle social security issues.
If you are entitled to social security benefits as well as workers’ compensation, an attorney can structure your settlement so that you receive all of your workers’ compensation benefits instead of being required to pay some of them to the Social Security Administration.
Evaluate third party claims.
In some cases, you may have a right to compensation from a third party as well as having a worker’s compensation claim. For example, if you were injured in a car accident while driving for your job, you could be entitled to damages from the negligent driver. This can be extremely beneficial because you could be entitled to additional types of compensation—like for pain and suffering—that you cannot receive under workers’ compensation laws. An attorney can identify additional claims and pursue them for you.
How Soon Should You Contact a Workers' Compensation Attorney?
If possible, you should contact an attorney right away before you make a workers’ compensation claim. They can help you start building your case when you complete your application and help you avoid making inadvertent mistakes.
Have You Been Injured At Work?
If you've been injured on the job you need to speak with an experienced workers' compensation lawyer as soon as possible. Contact us online or call our Augusta office directly at 706.863.6600 to schedule your free consultation.