Have you recently suffered a workplace injury and aren’t sure how to go about the workers’ compensation process? Is your employer’s insurance company dragging its feet with your case? Have you considered hiring a works compensation lawyer?
Most people worry about receiving workers’ compensation benefits in a timely manner because they are their family’s primary source of income. If this sounds like something you or someone you love is going through, you came to the right place.
This brief workers’ compensation guide will cover all you need to know about filing a workers’ compensation claim and who you can contact for more guidance.
What Is Workers’ Compensation?
Workers’ compensation, also known as workers’ comp, is a program that provides benefits to workers who sustain an illness or injury while on the job. This insurance program offers cash and healthcare benefits.
Not all states require businesses to carry this type of coverage. In Georgia, the law requires all companies with more than three workers to have workers’ compensation insurance. This also includes any part-time workers on staff.
How Can a Workers’ Compensation Lawyer Help Me?
The process of filing a workers’ comp claim is relatively straightforward, but the back and forth between your employer and their workers’ comp insurance provider is time-consuming. It is also an overwhelming process to go through while trying to heal.
Instead, you can reach out to a reputable workers’ compensation lawyer to help you file your claim. They will help you fill out documents, and they will gather any paperwork your employer needs to ensure your case moves along in a timely fashion. Seeking counsel also helps ensure that your employer’s insurance company doesn’t try to deny your claim.
Seek Counsel Soon After the Injury
When a workplace accident happens, it is imperative that you let your employer know as soon as possible. You will need to take note of where the accident occurred and the date and time it happened.
Other important information you must report:
- Any witness information
- What caused the accident
- Injury suffered
Shortly after you report the injury, seek medical treatment. Keep a record of your medical visits and any payments you had to make for treatment.
Different Types of Workers’ Compensation Claims
Depending on where you work and what type of work you do, your injuries may vary from someone else. For example, if you work on a wind farm, you could potentially suffer from broken bones or head injuries from working on the wind turbine.
Other types of workers’ compensation injury claims:
- Hearing loss
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Spinal cord injuries
- Electrocution injuries
- Muscular injuries
- Chemical exposures
Your employer must ensure that the workplace is a safe environment to work in. Most workplace injuries can be avoided by having suitable safety precautions in place.
When Do You Need Workers’ Compensation Attorneys?
Depending on how your employer or their insurance company handles your claim, you may need to hire an attorney. For example, if your job states that the accident did not happen while on the job, but it did, you should seek counsel.
Sometimes, employers will try to claim that the injury did not occur at work if it took time for the injury to become aggravated. They also make those types of claims with chemical exposure injuries.
Permanent Disability Cases
If your injury left you permanently disabled, you might want to reach out to a reputable attorney for guidance. While you work on adjusting to the disability, you can hire a lawyer to take care of your workers’ compensation claim. Insurance companies also like to fight these cases because they have higher payouts than less severe accidents.
Your Employer Is Taking Their Time
Workers’ compensation insurance companies need time to investigate your claim, but they shouldn’t drag their feet. By law, insurance companies have 30 days to make a decision on the claim.
They either need to accept liability, deny liability, or explain why they need more time to work on the claim. If they cannot give you a valid reason why it is taking so long for them to make their decision, you might want to reach out to an attorney. They can help expedite the process.
If They Deny Your Claim
If your employer’s insurance company denies your claim for any reason, you should reach out to an attorney so they can review it for you. To prevent this from happening, you should call a workers’ compensation attorney as soon as you report the claim to your employer. This will give your attorney more time to evaluate the case and create the best defense strategy for your situation.
Why Should I Hire a Workers’ Compensation Attorney?
There are several benefits that come with hiring a workers’ compensation attorney. They have extensive knowledge of workers’ comp laws and have dealt with cases similar to yours.
Hiring a lawyer can also help increase your chances of receiving the full amount of benefits you deserve. If you make a mistake on your paperwork or miss a deadline, you could set yourself back months before you receive your benefits.
When you get into a severe workplace accident, you are most likely upset and confused, and you just want to get the case over with. When you are in that type of headspace, there is no telling what kind of decisions you will make or what you may say to the insurance company.
Workers’ compensation attorneys don’t have the same feeling attached to the case as you do. Instead, they are objective to the case, making it easier for them to handle the facts and properly litigate your case.
Experience With Insurance Companies
If you’ve ever been involved in a car accident or know someone who has, you know how long and trying the process is. You are also most likely aware of how insurance companies purposely train their adjusters to lowball clients with awful compensation offers.
Workers’ compensation adjusters are no different. They, too, have the training to lowball clients and their companies train them to prey on your vulnerability.
These adjusters know that you want to get the process over with, and they do, too, so they can move on to the next claim. Instead of falling victim to these tactics, you can work with an attorney who is fully aware of these awful tactics.
You Can Focus On Healing
After you get into an accident, the last thing you want to do is deal with paperwork or fight with an insurance company about the benefits you deserve. Instead, it would be best if you focused on getting back on your feet to take care of yourself and your family. When you consult with a lawyer, they can help you seek the right medical attention
Represents You in Court
If you and your employer’s insurance are unable to conclude, you may need to file a lawsuit that they will handle in court. Unless you have experience handling litigation on your own on a similar case, you may want to contact a workers’ compensation attorney.
They have years of experience and knowledge of court proceedings. They also most likely know the judges and other attorneys in the area. You will want someone who knows how to work in a courtroom to adequately protect your best interests in the event the case has to go to trial.
Common Workers’ Compensation Claim Denials
It isn’t uncommon for an insurance company to deny your claim. These big insurance companies will take any steps necessary to avoid compensating victims.
Insurance companies may try to claim that you have a pre-existing injury causing your pain. They will try to make you believe that the root of your pain is due to previous medical experiences or other conditions.
Pre-existing conditions that are unrelated to your workplace injury should not affect your eligibility to file for a workers’ comp claim. When you work with a reputable attorney, they will help you navigate that denial and prove to the insurance company that your pain does not stem from a previous injury.
Lack of Supporting Medical Documentation
If the insurer claims that you lack the proper medical documentation to support your claim, a lawyer can offer you insight on how to deal with that issue. Your employer’s insurance company does have the right to review your medical history and any other medical documents related to your workplace injury. When you first submit your workers’ comp claim, you have to sign a release form allowing them access to your medical records.
If you are unsure if you sent them the correct documents or if you need help gathering the correct paperwork, you can reach out to an attorney to guide you through that process. They can take care of that entire process on your behalf instead if you would like.
What if My Employer Retaliates?
Unfortunately, some employers retaliate against their employers after reporting a workplace injury or sickness. Not only is this stressful and overwhelming for the victims involved in the situation, but it is also illegal for an employer to retaliate against you.
If your employer harassed you or mistreated you because you reported a workplace sickness or injury, you deserve to have a legal team protect and support you. No victim should have to go through the emotional trauma caused by their employers.
You are already in so much pain, you should be able to get the compensation and proper treatment you deserve. Experienced workers’ compensation attorneys understand that this happens too often, and they are aware of what it looks like when an employer retaliates.
Help With Your Appeal
As mentioned earlier, if the insurance company denies your claim and you need to appeal it, you can rely on an attorney to help you through that process. When you work with an attorney, they can submit your petition for benefits with all the necessary supporting documents. This includes details about your injury, the accident, figures to show wage loss, and what benefits you wish to pursue.
During the appeal, you may have to go to a mediation hearing. This hearing is an informal conference between your lawyer, the insurer, and you. There will also be a third-party person who is not related to you, your attorney, or the insurance company. The third-party person is an unbiased party there just to mediate.
What if My Case Goes to Trial?
If your attorney and the insurer are unable to come to an agreement through mediation, your case may go to trial. During this time, your attorney will create a defense strategy to ensure you get what you deserve. This includes bringing in witnesses and providing medical records and other documents supporting your claim.
How Much Does a Workers’ Compensation Lawyer Cost?
Many people avoid entertaining the idea of hiring an attorney because they believe that it is expensive, but that is not true. Not all attorneys require you to pay them upfront, most work on a contingency fee. This means that you won’t have to pay anything to the attorney unless you win your case.
Get the Help You Deserve
Although you technically don’t need to have a workers’ compensation lawyer to file a workers’ compensation claim, you may want to consider working with one. Not only will they help you file your claim, but they can help you in the event of a denial or if you have any questions.
This can be extremely beneficial, especially if you sustained severe injuries and need help with the workers’ compensation process. If you need help with your workers’ compensation claim, contact us now for a free no-obligation case evaluation. Our team is ready to answer any questions or concerns.