Should You or Shouldn’t You Hire a Workers’ Compensation Attorney
If you have an injury or illness due to work-related reasons, you may be mulling over hiring a workers’ compensation attorney or handling your case alone. There are many factors involved, such as the extent of your condition, the overall circumstances that led to it, and the behavior of your employer or its insurance company.
Generally speaking, you have a good chance of getting by without an attorney’s help if all of the following are true in your situation:
> Your workplace injury is minor (for example, a small cut or a twisted ankle)
> Your employer acknowledges that the injury occurred in your workplace.
> The injury did not make a significant difference in your ability to work.
> You don’t have a pre-existing condition that may have been worsened by the recent work-related injury.
On the other hand, here are examples of situations that clearly require the expertise of a workers’ compensation lawyer:
> Your employer isn’t paying your benefits promptly or flatly denies responsibility.
Employers and their insurers routinely decline workers’ compensation claims, believing workers will not appeal. Unfortunately, they’re often correct. Hiring a workers’ comp lawyer costs zero upfront (explanation will come later), and it offers you the best chance of getting a fair award or settlement.
> Your employer only wants to cover a portion of your medical bills or lost wages instead of all of it.
If you’re unsure about a settlement offer being good enough, don’t put your complete trust in the compensation judge in terms of giving you a fair deal. While workers’ comp settlements need judicial approval, remember that judges will usually sign off an agreement so long as it is not blatantly unjust. If you really want someone who will fight for your interests, hire a lawyer
> Your medical condition has limited your ability to perform your previous job, or have rendered you totally incapable of performing it at all.
If you’ve had a partial or total permanent disability, you could be entitled to weekly payments or a single lump sum payment to compensate for your lost wages. These cases are normally very expensive for insurers, and they will exhaust all means to avoid paying you what you deserve. A reputable workers’ comp lawyer will give you a good fight.
> You are getting or would like to apply for Social Security disability benefits.
If your workers’ comp settlement is not properly structures, you could end up with considerably lower Social Security disability payments. An experienced lawyer can help you avoid this problem.
There can be an unlimited number of scenarios where the help of a workers’ comp lawyer is critical. If you want to be safe, consult one anyway so you can at least get an overview of the possibilities specific to your case.