The workers’ compensation claim process can be intimidating, even for the simplest of claims. When an employee is injured on the job and needs to file a claim, he or she may be unsure of what to do first.
In a personal injury situation, an attorney can help a client with filing a law suit, but can an attorney help settle a workers’ compensation claim?
We have asked a legal expert, attorney Alaina Sullivan, about what you should do. Here is what she had to say:
Handling Workers’ Compensation without an Attorney
It is very possible that an employee who is injured at work can handle the workers’ compensation process on his or her own.
Normally, an individual can handle workers’ compensation filings if the injury was fairly minor in nature, he or she missed little to no work because of the injury, the employer is not disputing that the injury happened at work, and the employee did not have a pre-existing condition that could be blamed for the injury.
Consulting with an Attorney
Even if the case seems open and shut, it is always a good idea to schedule a free consultation first with a workers’ compensation attorney before preparing and submitting the claim.
The attorney can review the client’s situation, the injury involved and the expenses the injured employee is facing, and alert him or her of any glitches that could arise in the process. Simple cases can often turn into something more complicated, and an attorney can let the client know whether that is the case.
Further, he or she can give a good appraisal of what would be a good amount to request in terms of the official claim.
When It is Advisable to Hire an Attorney
It always best when things remain simple, but workers’ compensation cases can become complicated quickly. Once that happens, it is always advisable to hire an attorney to help settle a claim. For instance, if an employer denies the claim, an attorney can assist in preparing an appeal.
Many employers bank on the fact that most employees who receive denials leave it at the initial denial and fail to appeal the case. In fact, many will not even seek the services of an attorney.
However, having a professional on the case shows that the employee is serious about his or her claim and can help move things along in terms of settlement.
Further, if the settlement offer is not enough to cover the employee’s lost wages or medical bills, an attorney can help in the negotiation process. Many employers and insurance providers count on the employee accepting the first offer, not knowing the true amount of the claim he or she deserves.
A workers’ compensation attorney knows the true value of the employee’s claim and can push back on the insurance provider if he or she feels the employee is being low-balled.
When the Employee Receives Social Security
Another benefit to having an attorney assist in the employee’s case is when he or she receives social security disability benefits. The workers’ compensation settlement will need to be structured properly so as to not affect the employee’s social security benefits properly.
If not, Social Security may be able to take a large portion of the employee’s benefits. An attorney can structure the settlement in a way to avoid this problem.
Benefits of Having an Attorney
The system is supposed to work for the employee, in theory. It is supposed to give fair compensation for the worker’s injuries, but at the same time, the employer is running a business, as is the insurance company. These two entities want to save money at all costs.
When an employee is working with the insurance company, he or she is probably working with a company that has a team of lawyers helping them. They know the employee is not going to be knowledgeable in the system and what they are doing. In fact, they often take advantage of this fact.
Having a professional on the side of the employee can tilt the scales in that person’s favor. It can off-set that unfairness that comes along with an employee facing a large corporation.
Contact an Attorney Today
If you have been hurt in an accident while on the job and are not sure if you even need an attorney, it is recommended you at least reach out to a workers’ compensation attorney for a consultation to discuss your claim and answers any questions you may have.
A licensed attorney trained in workers’ compensation law will be able to review your case and determine your best course of action. To receive the compensation you deserve, contact an attorney in your area today.