Not every person that gets injured at work needs to lawyer up because the workers’ compensation system is a process designed to be quite accessible for workers. If a worker’s claim is straightforward and is not being disputed by their employer or the company’s insurance provider, then they can handle their own claim. But the process is not always that easy for everyone. For this reason, some workers will find that they can get better compensation by hiring a workers compensation lawyer Atlanta.
There are some cases where an employee who sustains injury at work can file a claim outside of worker’s compensation, and in this case hiring a personal injury lawyer would be appropriate. For instance, if you were injured due to an intentional act of your employer, you can sue your employer in court for workplace injury.
When It Isn’t Necessary to Hire a Worker’s Compensation Lawyer
If you sustain a minor injury at work that gets healed with proper care and treatment, there’s probably no need for you to lawyer up. Insurance companies do not usually dispute claims such as:
- Work-related injuries
- Injuries that do not require extensive medical treatment
- Injuries that don’t require extended periods of time off work
- Non-permanent injuries
For instance, you sprained your ankle after slipping on some wet floor in the break room. The doctor orders you to ice your ankle, take pain relievers, and to stay home and rest for a couple of days. But because your work mostly involves paperwork, you were able to go back to work right away and your ankle healed in just a few weeks. In this situation, the company would pay for your trip to the doctor. But you probably won’t qualify for wage loss benefits in most states because you were only off work for a few days.
When It is Necessary to Hire a Workers’ Compensation Lawyer
You should consider hiring a workers compensation lawyer Atlanta when you get involved in a dispute with the insurance company. You need to collect as much evidence you can to challenge the insurance company’s decision. This can include requesting a separate medical examination, taking depositions, and hiring expert witnesses.
Below are some examples of when you should hire a workers’ compensation lawyer. You should hire a workers’ comp lawyer when:
Your Claim is Denied
There are a number of reasons why insurance companies deny workers’ compensation claims. For instance, the insurance company might say that your injury wasn’t work-related, or your injury didn’t happen at work, or that you were late in filing your claim. Don’t worry if this happens. You can always appeal the denial via the worker’s compensation system. Although the appeal process may be different depending on your state, in general, it involves filing formal paperwork, gathering evidence legally, and presenting your case at the hearing.
Your Permanent Rating for Disability Benefit is Disputed
Most workers’ compensation settlements and awards involve permanent disability benefits. These benefits are determined by your permanent disability rating. If the insurance company refuses to acknowledge the rating assigned by your doctor, they would require you to attend an independent medical examination (IME) with their own doctor. The IME doctor will probably give you a lower disability rating, and the insurance company will use this to justify paying you less benefits.
In this case, getting a lawyer can be a good idea as they can help you get a fair settlement or convince a judge that you deserve a higher disability rating.
You Suffer from a Preexisting Condition
If you have a preexisting condition or injury in the same location or body part you were injured at work, you might end up facing a tough battle with the insurance company. It’s possible that the insurance company will blame your preexisting condition to your injury rather than work-related activities. This is true for injuries that develop over time, instead of those that show up immediately after a single work accident.
You’re Having Problems Getting the Treatment You Need
Most insurance companies deny or delay approval of claims involving expensive medical treatments, like surgeries. A workers compensation lawyer Atlanta can pressure the insurance company to approve medical treatments on time.
The Injury Has Affected Your Ability to Work
If your work-related injury has affected your ability to work or that you can never work again because of it, you must make the most out of workers’ compensation benefits and use them in a way that they will last longer. If you must change careers and need training for your new career, a lawyer would help get you both.
You Receive Other Government Benefits
If you’re awarded government benefits such as Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), then it may be reduced if you receive workers’ compensation benefits. A workers’ compensation lawyer can help minimize the deductions from your SSDI benefits. If you qualify for Medicare, you might have to reserve a portion of your workers’ compensation benefits to pay for any medical treatments in the future. Your lawyer can help you do this in the way that would be most advantageous for you.
You Need to Prove Your Case at a Hearing
If the company’s insurance provider refuses to settle or only offers less than you think you deserve, you’ll need to go to court to prove your case. And since a hearing is considered a mini-trial, you’ll need to enlist the help of a workers’ compensation lawyer Atlanta to represent you.
Is Hiring A Lawyer Worth It?
Workers compensation lawyers don’t charge by the hour, but on a contingency fee-bases. This means that they get a percentage of any workers’ compensation benefits you receive. In addition, most states place a limit on contingency fees in workers’ comp cases. This figure differs depending on the state, but it is generally around 15% to 25%. Some states, however, limit the fee to as low as 10% to as high as 33%.
While it is possible for you to get workers’ compensation on your own, enlisting a lawyer’s help will get you a much higher settlement offer. Lawyers are not only knowledgeable about the law, but they are also great at negotiating and using different means and techniques to build up your case.