When do I need to hire a workers' compensation lawyer?
Although workers’ compensation laws can be complicated, a workers’ compensation attorney is not necessary in every situation involving a workplace injury. In fact, there are a variety of factors you should consider when determining whether or not you need a workers’ compensation lawyer.
When You Need to Hire a Workers’ Compensation Lawyer
If you have suffered a minor workplace injury, hiring a lawyer may not be needed. If, however, you have suffered a serious workplace injury that has resulted in permanent injury; you will not be able to return to your previous work; you are forced to retrain for new work; or there are other complicated aspects of your workers' compensation case, you may need help from a workers’ compensation attorney.
Before making any decisions, however, it’s important to understand that the insurance adjuster provided by the insurance company may be more concerned with closing the claim and less concerned with whether or not you have been fairly compensated for your injury.
You should contact a workers’ compensation attorney if any of the following are true:
1. Your employer denies your claim for workers’ compensation benefits.
It is not unusual for employers to deny even legitimate claims for workers’ compensation benefits. Denials often occur because avoiding the payment of benefits is less expensive for an employer and many employees will not appeal the denial.
If your workers’ compensation benefits are denied, it is time to get help from a workers’ compensation lawyer.
2. Your employer offers you an amount that does not cover your medical expenses and lost wages.
Your employer may not have to offer an amount that covers all of your medical expenses and lost wages. However, if the settlement that they offer you does not address your expenses and lost wages, you may need to hire an attorney to make sure that you maximize your benefits.
While any offer from your employer must be approved by a judge, the judge may agree to an offer that seems fair to them, even if it does not provide all of the benefits that you deserve. Only a workers’ compensation attorney can make sure that the offer you receive is a fair one given the injuries that you have suffered.
3. You have a pre-existing disability.
If you already have a disability before your workplace injury, there is a chance that the insurance company will deny your claim, attempting to say that your injury was pre-existing or that your disability contributed to the injury. In such cases, you need a workers’ compensation attorney to make sure that you receive a fair settlement for your workplace injury.
4. Your workplace injury impairs your ability to work.
If your injury makes it more difficult for you to work, requires that you return to work at a different job, or makes it impossible for you to work, you may be eligible for benefits to cover lost wages for the remainder of your working years.
5. You are fired or demoted for filing a workers’ compensation claim.
If there is retaliation in your workplace because you filed a workers’ compensation claim, you need the help of an attorney. Retaliation can take on many forms, including firing, a demotion, a reduction in hours or pay, or other discriminatory employer actions.
6. You were injured by a third-party or third-party product.
Finally, you may also need the help of a workers’ compensation lawyer if your injuries were the result of the actions of a third-party or resulted from the use of a third-party product. For example, if you were injured at a construction site due to a faulty piece of equipment such as a bulldozer, it’s time to talk to a personal injury lawyer.
Although workers' compensation laws may eliminate a worker’s rights to sue their employer for some on-the-job injuries, this may not eliminate your ability to sue another third party, such as a manufacturer, if you can prove that their equipment was defective.
When You Do Not Need to Hire a Workers’ Compensation Lawyer
You typically do not need to hire a workers’ compensation lawyer when your injury is relatively mild and your company is providing you with benefits that fully address your medical expenses and lost wages. You may not need a workers’ compensation lawyer when all of the following are true:
- The workplace injury was relatively minor.
- The workplace injury did not result in you missing a significant amount of time at work.
- Your employer acknowledges that the injury happened while you were at work.
- You did not have a pre-existing condition related to the injury.
Even in situations where all of the above statements are true, however, you may choose to have an initial consultation with a workers’ compensation attorney. An attorney can review the benefits provided by your employer and determine if you are entitled to any additional payments.