In the United States, a worker is injured on the job every 7 seconds.
You don’t wake up in the morning hoping that you’ll sustain a workplace injury, but with such a stat in mind, the risk is high.
Even if you work in a traditional office where there’s minimal risk of injury, it can still happen. You could slip on a wet floor and fall or even tumble down the staircase.
If you have sustained an injury on the job, hiring a workers’ comp attorney should be top of your to-do list.
But why? Can’t you just get by with the help of a lawyer? After all, these lawyers don’t offer free services.
Continue reading to learn why hiring a workers’ compensation lawyer is the right thing to do.
1. You Don’t Understand Workers’ Compensation Law
Unless you went to law school, or you’re familiar with the process of seeking compensation after getting injured at work, it’s unlikely that you know much about workers’ compensation laws in your state.
You probably even didn’t know that your employer is legally supposed to compensate you after you’ve been injured at work.
Every state has its own workers’ compensation laws, but the short and long of it is every organization with employees has a responsibility to purchase workers’ compensation insurance.
A minimum amount of coverage is pre-determined. It’s from this coverage employers, through their insurers, compensate injured workers for their losses.
Workers’ compensation law isn’t designed to punish employers. It protects employers as much as it protects workers. If you’re injured at work but it turns out that the employer isn’t liable for your injuries, you might not receive any compensation.
As you can see, there are several legal issues that you need to understand when filing an injury compensation claim. Hiring an attorney who understands these laws ensures you have someone who will explain everything to you in a language you can understand.
2. No One Witnessed Your Injury
Immediately after you’ve been hurt on the job, you’re supposed to report to your supervisor. Making a report enables you to explain your version of events. The employer will also conduct an investigation.
Some rogue employees make false injury claims in a bid to defraud the employer. Perhaps they were hurt elsewhere or outside of their job duties or they were at-fault but want to take advantage of the employer’s workers’ compensation coverage.
Most employers know this, which is why an injury case with no witnesses to corroborate your version of events is bound to raise eyebrows.
This, though, doesn’t necessarily mean you won’t receive compensation if you got injured and nobody witnessed the accidents. It, however, does mean, the burden of proof is heavier.
The right thing to do, in this case, is to hire a worker’s comp attorney.
Even though your employer might have no qualms with your report, you never know what the insurance company will say. With a lawyer on your side, you can rest assured that they will do whatever it takes to prove that you indeed injured yourself in the course of duty and that, witness or no witness, your employer is liable.
3. You Don’t Know How to File a Workers’ Compensation Claim
So, you’ve sustained a workplace injury for the first time.
At this point, you see no need to hire an attorney because your employer has explained the process of filing for a claim and it looks fairly easy. Perhaps the employer is even offering any help you might need with the paperwork.
Why would you want to hire an attorney if you’re getting the help you need?
Well, it’s a fact that there are good-hearted employers who will offer you all the help you need and work to ensure you’re compensated adequately. The problem is such employers are few and far between, and even if yours is among the few, there’s no way to tell if their efforts are well-intentioned or not.
In most cases, it’s not in the employer’s best interest when a worker files a compensation claim. An increasing number of claims from employees of a certain company will no doubt prompt the insurance provider to review premiums upwards when the time to renew the coverage comes.
As such, don’t take any chances with your compensation. Hiring an attorney isn’t a sign of hostility. It’s a sign that you need an independent professional who can help you file the paperwork the right way.
4. You Don’t Know How Much to Claim
If you’re anything like most workers, you probably hold a certain fear for your boss. They can certainly fire you at any time if they so wish.
It’s easy to assume that filing a compensation will anger your boss and that they might develop a disliking for you and resolve to fire you at the slightest provocation. With such fears, it’s hardly possible to claim the amount you deserve, especially if it’s large.
You’ve been hurt on the job. You’ve probably spent your own money to pay for your resultant healthcare bills. Maybe you’ve been out of work for a while and lost some income. There’s also the matter of non-economic damages that you ought to factor into your claim.
In short, you need to get adequate compensation. The law is on your side!
Unfortunately, if you’ve got little or no experience computing compensation claims, you’re very likely to claim far less than you deserve, in which case the insurer can even pressure you to take an even lower settlement. Or you could claim far more than you justly deserve, which will result in a denied claim, no doubt.
A workers compensation attorney knows how to compute claims for workplace injury cases. With such a lawyer on your side, you’re assured of filing a claim that fully represents the suffering you’ve gone through and the losses you have suffered.
5. Your Claim Has Been Denied
A worker’s compensation claim can be denied for various reasons.
Perhaps you didn’t include some documents, such as medical reports, in your claim – a clear sign that you didn’t engage the services of a workers’ compensation lawyer. Or the insurance company has reason to believe the claim is fraudulent. Or the amount you’re claiming is too high.
Regardless of the reason (the insurance company will give its reasons), a denied claim isn’t good news. Yes, you can appeal, but there’s no telling whether it’ll be denied again.
Why not take the guesswork out of the claims process and work with a professional who will help you file a solid claim that is even defensible in a court of law? This professional is a worker’s comp attorney.
No lawyer wants to spend more time than necessary on your case. This means the lawyer you hire will ensure your claim doesn’t get denied outright because then they’ll have to spend more time on it filing an appeal.
6. The Insurance Company Wants to Negotiate
In most cases, insurance companies don’t approve compensation claims. If the claim is valid and there are no legitimate reasons to deny it, they will invite you to negotiate on a settlement.
This should be good news because it means you’re going to get compensation. The only unknown is how much you’re going to settle for.
Needless to say, you shouldn’t sit on a negotiation table with insurance guys if you’re not a master negotiator. If you go alone, expect the insurance people to lowball you and convince you to take their offer. Don’t!
The fact that an insurance company is willing to negotiate means your case has merit. The only reason they don’t want to pay the amount you’re claiming is they believe you can accept a lower amount.
When it gets here, don’t even think twice. Hire a lawyer as soon as possible.
Yes, sometimes negotiating with the insurer is the quickest way to get compensation, but you need a professional negotiator on your side. An experienced workers’ comp attorney is the negotiator you need.
7. You Need to Pursue the Matter in Court
Sometimes an insurance company won’t budge. This is especially the case when your claim has holes.
If the insurer has indicated that they won’t be honoring the claim (this is usually after denying your appeal or you’ve rejected their settlement offer), it means battle lines have been drawn. The insurer has reason to believe they can win the case if it goes to trial.
If you hadn’t hired a lawyer by now, the signs couldn’t get any clearer. When it comes to a court battle, the fight doesn’t belong to you. It belongs to a worker’s compensation attorney.
Face the insurance company on your own and you can as well consider the case lost.
Hire a Workers’ Comp Attorney
There are valid reasons against hiring a workers’ comp attorney, but you need to use your wits and be logical even if you love your company.
Maybe your injury is minor and your employer has offered to pay up without any contest. In most instances, however, you’ll need an attorney on your side.
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