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Thousands of injured employees file workers’ compensation claims against their employers. Ideally, workers’ compensation insurance should compensate employees injured at work for their lost wages, medical bills, and other benefits. This ensures that injured employees continue living normally after workplace accidents and prevents employees from filing lawsuits against the employer.
Because the workers’ compensation system seems straightforward, most employees presume they don’t need the services of a workers’ compensation lawyer. Unknown to them, workers' compensation is funded by insurance companies that can hesitate, deny, or refuse claims to avoid shrinking their profits. If you suffered injuries in your workplace and the responsible insurance company is playing these tricks, you should find a local workers’ comp lawyer.
Hiring a workers’ compensation attorney is beneficial in the following ways:
1. Determining your eligibility
While most employees are eligible and entitled to workers’ compensation, there are specific exceptions that can void your perceived claim. Workers’ compensation policies have special rules that exclude some employee groups, including domestic workers, temporary employees, seasonal workers, and those employed in farms and agricultural fields. Your workers’ compensation lawyer's first task is determining your eligibility for compensation.
2. Ensuring you meet the legal requirements
Besides eligibility issues, you should also meet your state-specific requirements to enjoy workers’ compensation coverage. You can only be compensated if:
- You are an employee of the company
- Your employer has a valid workers’ compensation insurance policy
- There’s enough proof your injuries are work-related
- Your injuries were reported to the employer within a given period
- You were treated by a medical doctor or physician.
Your lawyer will ensure you meet the requirements and other criteria the insurance provider requires.
3. Ensuring you collect the maximum possible benefits
The monetary loss from medical bills and lost wages can quickly add up. An attorney ensures that you receive maximum benefits according to state laws. Most insurance companies also don’t like paying lump sum settlements, which doesn’t favor victims, especially those with permanent disabilities. Your lawyer can negotiate for a lump sum settlement.
A lawyer can also help you seek additional compensation. Personal injury victims are eligible for other benefits that most people don’t pursue. Apart from workers’ compensation, you can also file a personal injury claim or apply for social security disability benefits. Your attorney can help you evaluate these options and the chances of success.
4. Helping you file for the right benefits
Most workplace injury victims lose their claims because of unknowingly filing for the wrong benefits. For instance, while you can file for medical benefits to cover your medical bills and disability benefits if you sustained severe injuries, you can’t be awarded vocational benefits if you can recover and resume work.
Your workers’ compensation lawyer can evaluate specific benefits you are eligible for or deserve. Your lawyer will also explain to you how these benefits are paid out. For instance, medical benefits are immediately disbursed after you provide medical records and other receipts. On the other hand, you can only get disability benefits if you miss several work days. You can only be eligible for vocational benefits if the injuries prevent you from resuming your previous work position.
5. Communicating with the insurance company
Being eligible for compensation and filing a claim doesn’t guarantee payment. You should follow up with the insurance company to receive payment. Unfortunately, insurance companies are cunning and won’t make this process smooth. Some may blatantly deny your claims, blame you for the fault, or offer a meager settlement amount.
Similarly, if you take long before filing the claim, the insurance company can terminate your benefits, leaving you in a difficult position. Handling these challenges while still recovering is difficult. As such, you should hire an attorney who understands navigating this process.
6. Filing an appeal on your behalf
In some situations, you cannot file an appeal in court, especially if the insurance company denies or takes a long time to process your claims. While you can file the appeal yourself, you should leverage the experience and expertise of a workers’ compensation lawyer. They can expertly deal with the insurance company’s defense lawyers in court.
The Bottom Line
Hiring a workers’ compensation lawyer is beneficial in many ways. Navigating the legal field and making follow-ups while recovering is tasking. A lawyer protects your legal rights and advocates for the best possible settlement.