If you’ve suffered a work-related illness or injury, you could be entitled to workers comp benefits. If you’re here, you probably already know that employers and their insurance companies regularly deny legitimate workers comp claims—leaving hurt workers out in the cold, stuck with expensive medical bills and lost wages.
While many workers comp applicants give up, many more turn to workers compensation attorneys.
Hiring an experienced attorney can give you a much higher chance of getting the benefits you’re entitled to. Your attorney will communicate with the insurer for you, collect evidence that supports your workers comp claim, and help you negotiate a fair settlement—among other things.
Remember, the attorneys and claims adjusters who work for your employer’s insurance company are NOT your friends, and will do whatever is legally available to them to reject your claim. Luckily, there are a few things your attorney can do to make sure that doesn’t happen.
1. Develop medical, vocational, and other evidence
One of the most common reasons that workers comp claims are denied is because of a lack of medical evidence.
Even with approved claims, the better your medical evidence, the more likely it is that you’ll get all of the benefits you deserve.
Your attorney can help you collect strong evidence by:
- Gathering your medical records
- Recommending and arranging treatment with honest physicians
- Collecting the opinions of your physicians with an independent medical evaluation
- Representing you if you’ve been requested to answer questions at a deposition
- Conducting their own deposition with medical experts
Attorneys may collect other types of evidence to help strengthen your case, such as:
- Testimony about the physical requirements of your job
- Statements about our daily activity level from friends and family
- Evidence demonstrating that your employer has a history of poor training or workplace safety
When you choose an experienced attorney, they’ll know which types of evidence are needed to strengthen your case and improve your chance of victory.
2. Negotiating and structuring settlements
Your attorney must be able to estimate the true value of your case, especially when it’s time to start negotiating with the insurance company. The amount of benefits you receive will depend on:
- The type and extent of your injuries
- Your past (and estimated future) medical expenses
- Whether you will have a lasting impairment from your injury
- Your previous wages
Lawyers will understand all of the tricks and tactics used by insurance companies that clients often fall victim to. Experienced attorneys are able to engage in far more beneficial negotiations (in most cases) than hurt workers are able to on their own.
Attorneys will also help ensure that your settlement is worded in a way that will let you avoid any consequences down the road.
For example, say you’re receiving Social Security disability benefits. A poorly designed workers comp payout could cost you hundreds of dollars every month due to workers compensation offset. While it’s true that a judge will not approve a grossly unfair settlement, it’s not a judge’s job to make sure you’re getting the BEST settlement. That’s your lawyer’s job.
3. Representing you in a hearing or trial
If you cannot reach a settlement with the insurance company, then your case will go to a trial or administrative hearing with a workers compensation judge. Here, your attorney might take depositions of witnesses, request medical records, conduct legal research, and make sure that everything gets submitted on time.
Once in court, your lawyer will present your “theory of the case” on why you should be eligible for benefits, conduct opening/closing statements, examine your witnesses, raise objections, and much more.
If you and your attorney are unhappy with the results of the hearing, your lawyer can then help you appeal the court’s decision.
4. Advising you on third-party claims
You may be eligible for other benefits in addition to your workers compensation claim, such as a personal injury claim against someone whose negligence contributed to or caused your injury.
Frequent targets of third-party claims are manufacturers of faulty equipment and machinery, as well as drivers. Personal injury claims can often pay out far more than workers compensation claims, because these claims can include benefits for pain and suffering and loss of potential earnings.
Choosing the right lawyer for your case is the most important step you can take to ensure you get the payout you truly deserve. Schedule your free case evaluation with us today, and let’s take the first step to a successful workers comp claim together.