Not every workers’ compensation case needs to be handled by an attorney. If you have a straightforward claim that is not being disputed by your employer or denied by its insurance company, you may be able to handle the claim on your own. Unfortunately, very few cases are that simple. Many injured workers will need to hire a workers’ compensation lawyer to ensure the best possible outcome for their case.
When You Don’t Need a Lawyer
If your injury is minor and heals on its own, you may not need to hire a lawyer. Insurance companies are highly unlikely to dispute any claims that:
- Involve injuries that evidently happened at work
- Don’t require extensive medical treatment
- Don’t require you to be out of work for an extended period of time
- Don’t result in permanent injuries
As an example, let’s look at a broken toe. If you trip on a cable at work and fracture your pinky toe, your doctor will tell you to take some over the counter pain killers, elevate your foot, and tape the fractured toe to the toe next to it for support. You’ll be able to return to work as soon as the next day and your visit to the doctor will be covered. It’s unlikely you’ll receive wage loss benefits because you did not require much time off of work. In this scenario, you should be able to handle the claims process on your own.
When You Do Need a Lawyer
If your case is any more complicated than the one above, the time to hire a lawyer is as soon as possible after you have been injured. A lawyer will learn about your case and the details surrounding your injury, assist with paperwork, and ensure you don’t make any mistakes when filing a claim. Your workers comp lawyer will also keep you on track, as each step of the claims process must be completed within a certain time frame.
If you don’t hire a workers’ compensation lawyer at the start of your case, the following are scenarios when you should consider hiring expert help.
Your Claim is Denied
If your claim has been denied, it’s often due to insufficient medical information or because you failed to give your employer proper notice of the injury. The first step to take when your workers’ compensation has been denied or reduced is to request a hearing before a Workers’ Compensation Board judge. In this situation, you want to have experienced, aggressive legal representation on your side fighting for benefits that are rightfully yours.
Your Permanent Disability Rating is Disputed
The degree of disability explains, in percentages, how disabled you are from a medical perspective. This number plays a large factor in determining how much money you will receive every week for your workplace injury. If your employer’s insurance company doesn’t agree with the degree of disability, it can require you to attend an independent medical examination with a doctor of its choosing.
The IME doctor receives their paycheck from the insurance company, so they are likely to assign a lower degree of disability to make their employer happy. The insurance company will use the lower rating to justify paying you less in benefits. A lawyer can be essential to getting you a fair settlement or convincing a judge that you are entitled to a higher rating.
You Have a Preexisting Condition
If you have a preexisting condition or injury involving the same body part you’ve injured at work, you are facing a challenging battle. The insurance company is likely to blame your preexisting condition for your injury and deny you benefits.
You’re Having Trouble Receiving the Care You Need
Unfortunately, if your injury requires surgery or extensive treatment, the insurance company will likely prolong approving the necessary care. A workers’ compensation lawyer will be able to put pressure on the insurance company and get you the treatment you need.
You Receive Other Government Benefits
If you’re receiving Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits, they may be reduced if you start receiving workers’ compensation benefits as well. Both programs come with several intricacies that determine much of the amount you can receive, and how the programs may interact with one another. For this reason, it is extremely important to consult with an experienced attorney if you are hoping to collect Workers’ Compensation and/or Social Security Disability Benefits.
If you’re concerned about paying for a layer know that if you hire a lawyer to handle your case, you’re likely to get a much higher settlement offer. Workers’ compensation cases are taken on a contingency fee basis. If we accept your case, there is no fee unless we recover benefits for you. Call (518) 449-2245 or request a free consultation below to begin reviewing the unique aspects of your case.