The workers’ compensation system is supposed to provide for workers when they are injured on the job through a fairly automatic process. A worker is injured, he reports it to his supervisor, he sees an approved doctor, and his medical bills and lost wages are paid. However, when cases are more complicated, the worker will want to seek the assistance of an experienced workers’ compensation attorney.
Injuries That Probably Don’t Need a Lawyer
When you see ads for workers’ comp attorneys or hear from friends that they had good outcomes for their claims with an attorney, you may believe you need an attorney no matter what. However, there are some situations where an attorney probably can’t do any more for you than what the system is already doing. You will probably not need a lawyer if all of the following are true in your case:
- Your injury is minor, like a sprained ankle or small cut.
- You did not have to take off work because of your injury.
- Your employer does not dispute that the injury happened at work.
- You don’t have a pre-existing condition.
Even if you are in this situation, filing a claim can be confusing. Feel free to call an attorney for a free consultation about how to proceed.
As soon as something starts to go wrong with your claim, you should call an attorney to represent you. Some problems that could arise include the following:
- Your employer denies your claim. Workers’ comp insurers and employers routinely deny legitimate claims in the hopes that the worker will not appeal the denial. Unfortunately, they are often rewarded for this practice, as only 20 percent of workers whose claims have been denied file an appeal. If your claim is denied, consult with an attorney to begin the appeal process. Sometimes, the mere mention of legal representation is all the insurer needs to hear to approve your claim.
- You do not receive benefits promptly. Even an approved claim can be dragged out to the point that the settlement will not benefit you when you need it most. In an attempt to get you to accept less or to give up completely, your settlement may be delayed beyond what is acceptable. An attorney will make sure you receive your benefits promptly.
- Your settlement does not cover everything. A workers’ comp settlement should cover all of your medical bills and lost wages. If you suspect your offer is too low to cover your losses, do not accept it without consulting an attorney. Insurers are not concerned with being fair, they are only concerned with saving money.
- Your injury or illness is serious enough to prevent you from returning to work. If you have suffered permanent partial or permanent total disability due to a work injury or illness, you may be entitled to a lifetime of benefits. These kinds of cases are workers’ comp insurers’ worst nightmares and they will do anything they can to avoid paying them. In cases of permanent disability, you absolutely need an attorney on your side.
- You receive Social Security disability benefits. If you are already receiving Social Security disability benefits, the Social Security Administration could be entitled to a large portion of your workers’ comp settlement if the settlement is not structured properly. A workers’ comp attorney will know how to draft a settlement that maximizes your benefits.
- You are being treated unfairly because of your claim. If you suspect your employer is retaliating against you—through a demotion, firing, pay cut, or any other unfair treatment—you may have a case for discrimination. Call an attorney immediately.
- You may have a third-party claim. If you are injured at work by a negligent third party—such as being struck by a motorist while making deliveries for your job—you may have a civil claim as well as a workers’ comp claim. This complication will require an attorney to navigate the tricky legal waters.
Trust us when we say that experienced workers’ comp attorneys have seen all of these situations and more. No matter what your employer tells you, you are entitled to an attorney and would be wise to hire one if any of these complications apply to your case.
Call Kansas City Accident Injury Attorneys for a Free Consultation
If you aren’t sure you need an attorney for your workers’ comp claim, call us for a free consultation. Our experienced attorneys will walk you through the benefits of hiring an attorney and the pitfalls of going it alone.