After an accident at work, you may want to file a claim under your employer’s workers’ compensation policy. You can do this with an attorney or on your own. For many, the thought of hiring an attorney is intimidating given the cost of legal fees alone. For others, it is a given that they will hire a legal professional to help them through the process. However, what does a workers’ compensation attorney do?
We have asked a legal expert, attorney Alaina Sullivan, about what you should do. Here is what she had to say:
The Attorney’s Role
It first depends on what role the attorney plays in the case. If the attorney was hired to represent the injured worker, it is his or her goal to help that person get workers’ compensation benefits. If the attorney is brought on at the on-set of the process, the attorney will need to make sure that the claim is properly prepared and submitted. If the attorney is hired on after a claim has been denied, the attorney will need to work to prove that the claim should have been approved and will need to prepare the appeal.
The Discovery Process
One of the most important tasks an attorney has to do involves the discovery process. A workers’ compensation attorney needs a strong case, and to get that case, he or she needs evidence. This evidence includes medical records, proving that the injury occurred and showing the extent of the harm done from the injury. This evidence may also come in the form of taking depositions of the injured worker, physicians, medical experts as well as other individuals involved who witnessed the accident.
Staying Informed on the Law
You hire an attorney for his or her experience, as well as knowledge of this specific area of the law. Not everyone understands this area of the law, so you are paying for that person’s knowledge of workers’ compensation benefits. Therefore, the attorney is charged with staying on top of legal developments in the law and conducting legal research to back your specific case.
Filing the Claim
A workers’ compensation attorney also assists the claimant in preparing the filing for the claim. The attorney will walk the client through all of the necessary questions and help him or her through the application. As the claim request is being prepared, the attorney works with medical providers to complete the paperwork. He or she will be able to go through the medical records you have relating to the accident and ensure that you are submitting everything needed properly.
Negotiating a Settlement
Once the insurance company comes back with a claim, the attorney can then negotiate with them to ensure that the amount being given will adequately compensate you for your injuries. If the figure is too low, the attorney is the person who is the communicator between you and the insurance company. They are trained negotiators, and it is their job to counter-offer if one is needed. Many times, insurance companies will not play “fairly” with a party that is unrepresented, and it often pays to have a legal professional in your corner who can stand up for you if you are being low-balled in your initial offer. If the insurance company then refuses to budge on what they are offering, the attorney will then know what to do to take your claim to a higher level or to mediation, arbitration or even administrative trial.
Preparing and Litigating an Appeal
If your claim is unsuccessful, it is the attorney who handles the appeals process. They go through the appropriate administrative channels first, and then, if necessary handle the pleadings and filings to take your appeal to the next level. The attorney will file all motions, briefs and other legal pleadings needed during the case, and will be the person litigating everything before the administrative judge or workers’ compensation referee or higher level, if appropriate. They know the rules of evidence and rules of trial, and because of this, they are able to advocate appropriately for you in a way you may not be able to do so on your own.
Contact an Attorney Today
If you have been involved in an accident during the normal course of business and are unsure about how to proceed with a workers’ compensation claim , it is highly recommended that you contact an attorney to answer your questions. 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.