Mitchell Allen is the founder and CEO of the Debt Education Certification Foundation, an organization that provides credit counseling certificates and debtor education courses for those who are filing for bankruptcy. He’s also the founder of legal services marketing agency LeadRival. He’s the author of numerous books on debt and bankruptcy.
Mitchell is not an attorney and his answers should not be considered legal advice. Please consult with an attorney about your legal situation. Full Bio
My workers' compensation claim was denied. Do I need a lawyer?
If you have filed a workers' compensation claim that was denied, in most cases you will need an experienced lawyer to help you with your claim. You can represent yourself, but workers' compensation can be a complex matter. There are specific procedures to follow, forms must be completed within a specific time frame, and evidence may need to be presented to a judge. A qualified workers' compensation attorney will help to protect your rights so that you can recover the benefits that you deserve.
Workers' compensation is governed by state law, which ensures that employees are compensated when hurt in the workplace. The system is no-fault and allows injured workers to receive payment for medical bills, lost wages and other losses that are the result of a work-related injury.
Workers' Comp Lawyers and Contingency
Most workers' compensation attorneys work on contingency, which means that the attorney receives a percentage of the benefits that you receive. If you lose your case, you will not be required to pay your attorney. This payment arrangement can be a relief if you are an injured worker faced with financial hardship after having to leave a job due to no fault of your own.
Another benefit of a contingent fee is that the attorney will work hard to win the maximum compensation for their client. The percentage of the contingency is strictly regulated based on state law and is usually 15–20% of the benefits. The legal fees that your lawyer charges usually require the approval of a judge or an appeals board. Each state has a different fee structure, which depends on whether the case is settled, or if a hearing or trial is required.
Consultations with Attorneys Are often Free
When seeking an attorney, try to request a free consultation. Most lawyers will evaluate your case at no charge to determine whether you need an attorney. Due to the contingent fee structure, the attorney will probably refuse your case if you do not have valid circumstances that deserve compensation.
Thoroughly Understand Your Case
Before signing any document with the company where you were injured, make sure that you understand your case, otherwise you may give up your right to medical care and other benefits. In general, it is best to seek legal help as soon as possible after experiencing a workplace injury. Evidence may need to be gathered, and you will need to make smart decisions early in the legal process to ensure that you recover benefits for your injury.
It is important to remember that an employer may dispute workers' compensation claims because they don't want to pay higher premiums, which usually increase when an injured worker claims benefits. In some instances, an employer may believe that an employee with a back injury, carpal tunnel syndrome or another non-emergency injury is not being truthful about their condition. Employers and insurance companies may fight to see that injury claims are denied.
You have the right to seek legal advice after a claim has been denied regardless of the circumstances of your injury. Otherwise, you will be at a disadvantage due to the complex legal proceedings involved with workers' compensation cases. Insurance companies have attorneys to represent their best interests, and you should also have a lawyer to advise you. An attorney will also give advice as to your eligibility for Social Security disability benefits if your injury prevents you from working in the future.