Accidents occur in the workplace far too often for comfort. In fact, according to the National Safety Council, 12,600 workers are injured on the job every day! That’s an incredibly staggering number, and it’s worth knowing if you find yourself in a high-risk field. These fields include construction, first-responders such as police and firefighters, manufacturing, maintenance, installation, and transportation just to name a few. Accidents don’t have to be major, either. A fall from a ladder might prove catastrophic, and lead you to seek a foot and ankle specialist, but carpal tunnel syndrome from too much typing and paperwork can cause just as much pain and suffering.
Who is there to Help?
Due to the staggeringly high number of accidents, the vast array of accidents and injuries that can occur on the job, and the various legal and personal ramifications injuries and accidents can have, it’s the law for almost all jobs to have what is known as workers compensation insurance. This worker’s compensation helps you to obtain all benefits associated with your injury, including short-term and long-term medical care, lost wages, steady income while unemployed, and even commuting cost reimbursements. Usually, an employer will provide adequate enough care and benefits with workers’ compensation insurance, but sometimes, this is not enough.
Who are Workers Compensation Lawyers?
To help get you more benefits for your injuries, or even to prove you were injured on the job, you should seek the help of only the best workers compensation lawyer to strengthen your case. A workers compensation lawyer is trained and has years of experience in handling the process of your workers comp claim, and is better able to streamline the process and get you your benefits sooner. Seeking the help of the best workers compensation lawyer will help you recover from your injury stress-free, and hopefully get your settlement increased. In order to choose a good lawyer, it’s important to educate yourself a bit on the process that these lawyers go through, and what separates a good lawyer from a bad one. The best workers compensation lawyer will, at the end of the day, help you get paid. Here are 10 traits to look for in a workers compensation lawyer that you should be aware of while battling your case.
1. Have Compassion
Lawyers usually have a bad reputation when it comes to compassion. Stereotypes make lawyers seem almost cut-throat and greedy in the corporate world. Though it’s true being the best lawyer usually means beating out the competition, this isn’t necessarily true for a worker’s compensation lawyer. The best workers compensation lawyer for you will have compassion for your case, and won’t be so easily jaded when it comes to handling your case. In fact, most workers’ compensation lawyers, like other members of legal counsel, depend on your settlement and don’t get paid until you get paid. They take a percentage of your settlement in what is known as a standard contingency fee, which usually ranges from 10% to 15% of what you win in your case. The right attorney will want to settle your case not only for the money but also because they see your plight and see how your injury has affected you. A lawyer that takes the time to ask you how your injury has affected you, how you plan on working later on, and what your goals are for the future is all too valuable in your case. Keep an eye out for this first and foremost, and ask for free consultations with workers compensation law firms.
2. Prove your Workers Comp Rights
In addition to having compassion for your case, the best workers compensation lawyer will help you even prove your right to have workers compensation insurance. Sadly, these rights vary in every state, and might not be readily available to you for one reason or another. For instance, in Alabama, most people are covered should they be injured on the job except for domestic servants, farm laborers, casual employees, employees of businesses with less than five people, licensed real estate brokers, and product demonstrators. However, this is not true in every state. For example, California has strict laws for those employers that employ even just one person. According to the Department of Industrial Relations, all California employers must provide workers compensation benefits to their employees under California Labor Code Section 3700. If a business employs one or more employees, then it must meet this requirement. This is good news for many in the State, including yourself should you think of getting discouraged after an accident. In addition, a job injury lawyer can help you if you have questions regarding workers compensation as a self-employed workers. If you are the proud owner of one of the 70% of small businesses that are owned and operated by a single person, get help from the best workers compensation lawyer to answer your questions about compensation insurance, and get started on your case right away.
3. Not Speak To Your Employers
Hiring a lawyer for some can be a pretty scary experience at first. You might think that hiring a workers compensation lawyer means having a scary attorney that is constantly threatening your work place to cough up more money. However, this is far from the case. The best workers compensation lawyer understands your concerns about privacy, and respects your future endeavors and career goals. They wouldn’t jeopardize your new job prospects by threatening your employer, and contrary to popular belief, the workers comp lawyer works to settle an agreement with your employer’s insurance company, and not your employer themselves. In fact, the only time your lawyer will reach out to your employer is to send them what is known as a Application for Adjustment to Claim, letting your employer know (by law) about the status of your claim. Besides this interaction, you shouldn’t have to talk to your employer about workers compensation insurance, and neither should your lawyer.
4. Knows the Process Well
Taking your case to trial is a process that is not too complicated, but does depend on your attorney’s ability to connect the dots and dates, the quicker the better. During a workers compensation claims process, you will first meet at a pre-trial with a judge. If you have an attorney, they will go on your behalf and draw up a pre-trial form to give to the judge. After a pre-trial and possible motion hearings, your mediation begins. In the mediation, an employer or the employer’s insurance adjuster will meet with the claimant and their attorney to reach an agreement on what is fair. If no agreement can be reached, the claim then goes to the discovery process to prepare for the trial. During the discovery process, depositions that ask you questions and allow your attorney to ask questions of others occurs. At trial, your lawyer and employer battle it out in order to prove your right to a settlement in a workers compensation case. It’s crucial for you to find a lawyer that knows exactly the process of the workers compensation system. Being unfamiliar with the process, certain judges, deadlines, and losing track of important dates can prove costly for both you and your lawyer.
5. Knows the Experts
During your worker’s compensation claims process, it’s important for your lawyer to get in touch with the very best experts, such as a great doctor, physical therapist, psychologist, etc. in order to calculate the number of benefits you should receive. This includes the extent of your injuries and resulting limitations in what you can do, your past and future medical expenses, any lasting impairments, and also the extent of your permanent disability. To do so, your lawyer must get in touch with non-biased, trustworthy experts that can carefully evaluate the extent of your injuries. For example, having a specialist look at an MRI and determine a limited range of motion can make or break your case. It’s important to have only the best workers compensation lawyer that can help get you in touch with these experts.
6. Gather Evidence
Having an expert speak about your injuries is important, but gathering evidence can also be done in other ways. For example, a slip and fall accidents attorney might be interested in gathering evidence on previous slip and fall incidents, what a business is using on their floors, shoes being work, wet spills and hazards, etc. Much the same, your workers compensation lawyer will gather eyewitnesses of your accident, reports you might have filed asking for changes to your employer, and medical records. In addition, statements from friends and family members about your daily activities or current mood since the accident could also be helpful. The best workers compensation lawyer will leave no stone un-turned when battling your case.
7. Structure Excellent Settlement Agreements
Your settlement agreement is crucial for filing your claim. For example, if you’re receiving or applying for Social Security disability benefits, an improperly designed settlement agreement could lower the amount of your benefits due to workers compensation offset. It’s important to have a lawyer that’s detail-oriented, and can help you make a strong settlement agreement that takes into account all past and future expenses. Don’t let a judge simply handle your settlement agreement, and get the help of a lawyer to do so.
8. Know the Insurance Company’s Hacks
While fighting for your case, the process is a lengthy one, as we mentioned earlier. What makes a claim more stressful than the length of a process itself, is the insurance companies constantly fighting against you. In fact, some people aren’t even lucky enough to reach the beginning stages of the claims process, and get denied outright by insurance companies due to lack of medical evidence. Doctors that are on the insurance company payrolls and so-called “experts” provided by the insurance company might also be working against you. It’s important to get all this information from your attorney, who can help educate you on all the tips and tricks of an insurance company. For instance, insurance companies might low-ball you or give you a final offer that isn’t really final. Accepting it would do more harm than good, and cost you thousands of dollars in lost settlement benefits. Get the help of the best workers compensation lawyer to help you fight against the insurance companies and win.
9. Advise on Outside Benefits
Though you might simply be looking for benefits from the workers compensation insurance, a good lawyer will let you know of other possibilities for benefits. For example, your lawyer might get you in touch with a personal injury attorney if there were other people involved in your case. Let’s say you fell while working as a fire-fighter and dropping off a patient at the hospital. Could your fall be caused due to negligence on behalf of the hospital? Both your workers compensation attorney and your personal injury lawyers can help you figure this out.
10. Battle for your Appeal
Sometimes, due to our lack of knowledge about the claims process, inability to file a claim and seek medical care on time, or for any other reason, your claim can be denied by the insurance company. Luckily, the best workers compensation lawyer can help fight for your appeals process much in the same way he or she will fight for your settlement. The appeals process for an injury claim has strict deadlines, and the sooner you get started in the appeals process with your attorney, the better the outcome will be.
You Deserve the Best
Sustaining an injury while working can be devastating. Not being able to perform the job you performed for so many years can leave you feeling anxious, depressed, and unsure of where to turn. Fortunately, the best workers compensation lawyer can help you find your way through the claims process, help you get settlement money for medical bills, lost wages, and even vocational rehabilitation. When you work with the best attorney, you’ll find that the process to file a claim is less stressful, less scary, and more fulfilling and exciting to experience, knowing the possibility of a big settlement is in your future.