As an injured employee, you have rights, but do not rely on your employer or their workers’ compensation insurance carrier to protect those rights at all times. Often, employees assume that they can handle their claims on their own, only to find their claim is denied or they do not receive adequate compensation for their losses. While the law is strict about what constitutes a work-related injury, that does not mean filing for workers’ compensation benefits is straightforward. What seems like a simple situation can quickly become complicated, which is why it is always a good idea to contact an attorney that specializes in workers’ compensation claims. Your attorney can guide you through the claims process, discuss any potential pitfalls, and help you get the compensation you deserve.
Signs You Need a Workers’ Compensation AttorneyEvery workplace injury is unique. The circumstances of your injury will not be like a fellow employee’s. If you are unsure about your need for an attorney, there are telltale signs it is in your best interest to contact one:
- Your employer has denied your claim. Employers and workers’ compensation insurance carriers can deny eligible claims, and will sometimes do so because they assume the employee will not file for an appeal. It is estimated that 80% of employees never appeal their denied claim. An attorney can prevent unfair denials and assist you with a successful appeal.
- Your settlement offer does not cover your losses. Insurance companies have bottom lines. They will attempt to offer a low settlement, and often that amount will not cover your lost wages or the full extent of medical costs. Workers’ compensation settlements require a judge’s sign off, but as long as you agree, they will sign off on the settlement amount. It is beneficial to hold off on agreeing to a settlement until you speak with an experienced attorney.
- Your injuries prevent you from returning to work. If your injury is serious and you are on permanent partial disability or permanent total disability, you need an attorney. You may be eligible for lifetime weekly payments or a lump sum payment to compensate for your permanent injury.
- Your boss has threatened to fire you if you file a claim or appeal their claim decision. While rare, there are some employers that will threaten an employee’s job if they file a claim or attempt to appeal their claim. It is illegal for an employer to retaliate against an employee for filing workers’ compensation, and an attorney can help protect you from any retaliation.
- You may have a third-party claim too. Sometimes there is a third party that contributes to a workplace injury, too. For example, you are a delivery driver and you were hit by another driver. You can still receive workers’ compensation benefits, but you may also can file a separate personal injury lawsuit against the driver that caused the accident.