People who suffer an injury on the job often find their financial future as well as their career at risk, so it’s crucial to hire a workers’ compensation attorney immediately. An experienced attorney will help you to communicate with your employer and its insurance company to ensure that you’re taken care of, both physically and financially.
What is Workers’ Compensation?
Workmans’ or workers’ comp, as it is commonly called, is a state required program of insurance that provides certain benefits for workers injured on or suffer an illness because related to their job. Each state has its own workers’ comp program and the federal government has its own for federal and certain other employees. A worker’s comp attorney can help determine what program would apply.
What does Workers’ Comp Cover?
A workers’ compensation accident is an accident that occurs while an employee is performing work for his or her employer. Typically, the accident must occur while the employee is working within the scope of his other employment. This can range anywhere from an employee who falls from scaffolding to an employee who suffers a traumatic brain injury delivering parts to customers. As long as the employee was performing work functions that further the employer’s business, the workers’ compensation laws will have jurisdiction.
In certain situations, a repetitive type of job, such as a typist, a seamstress, or an assembly line worker, can result in injuries. These injuries can also be compensable if certain conditions are met, and the employer is responsible for paying for treatment and benefits. Many times, an insurance company will fight these types of claims, because there is not a clearly identifiable accident date. It is very important to seek the help of an experienced attorney as soon as you start developing symptoms that could be the result of a repetitive job. An attorney will need to meet with your doctors and fully understand the type of work you were doing in order to get you all the benefits you deserve.
Do I have to give notice to my employer?
Immediately following any work accident, it is very important for an employee to report the accident to the employer. It does not matter how insignificant the accident seems to be to the employee. What sometimes feels like nothing more than a muscle pull could eventually result in the need for significant medical treatment including surgery. Therefore, it is vital that the employee reports the accident immediately afterwards. Waiting to report the accident could be very detrimental to or even waive your rights to your claim.
What do I tell the doctor?
It is also very important that the injured worker report everything that is hurting to the doctor. Usually following a work-related accident, the employer is required to send the employee to a doctor. In other words, if the employee is feeling back pain but also numbness and tingling down one leg, it is very important to report not only low back pain, but also the numbness and tingling. Every symptom an employee is experiencing needs to be reported the doctor.
Why do I need an experienced workers’ comp attorney?
Even though an injured worker reports the accident to the employer, oftentimes the employer will do nothing about it and take no further steps. It is critical that anyone in this situation contact an experienced lawyer immediately. Many times, cases are denied simply because the employer chose to ignore the complaints of the worker.
Getting names and phone numbers of witnesses who were thereat the time of the accident or who you spoke to afterwards is a great idea. Sometimes witnesses change jobs or decide later that they don’t want to help if they think the employer will retaliate against them. An experienced lawyer can quickly work to reach out to witnesses and even get affidavits from them, thereby documenting the accident and satisfying the notice requirement.
This will make it much harder for the insurance carrier to deny the claim later. Remember, what you do immediately following the accident is one of the most critical times. It is very important to have everything well-documented early on.
What if my employer asks me to fill out an accident report?
Work Claim Form
If your employer requires an accident report for any work-related injury, it is critical that you fill one out, but be careful when you do. What you put or do not put in that report can be used later to deny your claim. If your employer fills out the report for you, please do not sign it unless you read it carefully.
Make sure that the description of the accident is very clear and accurate. Make sure that all of your symptoms are listed, even ones that don’t seem like much at the time. Also, make sure that the dates and times of the accident as well as the report are accurate. If you sign the report, it will be assumed that you read it and the contents are accurate.
An experienced lawyer can help you review these accident reports for you. It is too important to leave your health and financial future to the chance that the report was filled out correctly.
How do I deal with the workers’ comp insurance company?
In most instances, the employer will notify their workers’compensation insurance company of the accident and an adjuster will be assigned to handle the claim. Many times, people think that hiring a lawyer means they are suing their employer. That is a common misconception. All employers with very few exceptions are required to carry Workers’ Compensation insurance.Protection for the employer by having this type of insurance is that their employees cannot sue them directly.
Once the claim is assigned to an adjuster, oftentimes the adjuster will contact the injured worker and attempt to get a recorded statement. It is extremely important to speak with an experienced lawyer before giving any type of recorded statement. The insurance adjuster will often accept or deny a claim for benefits based on answers given in these recorded statements.
Sometimes the employee may be in pain, on medication or just get confused by the questions. It doesn’t matter, once you have given a recorded statement, the insurance company has you at their mercy. It is a good idea to contact an experienced lawyer to get advice before this recorded statement is even attempted.
A good lawyer will be able to sit down with you and go over the questions you will likely be asked and offer guidance on how you should respond.
In most cases, the insurance company has one goal: either to deny your claim or pay you as little as possible. They use recorded statements as a tool to gain information to use against you, so be sure to speak with an attorney before giving a statement to an insurance company.
Remember, the job of the insurance adjuster is to be nice at first. The adjuster does not want you to hire a lawyer to protect your rights.Many times insurance adjusters are graded by how little money it takes for them to close a case.
An experienced lawyer knows this and fights hard to make sure the insurance company pays you what you deserve. In other words, do not be fooled by an adjuster who seems nice at first. This is what they are paid to do. Many times, an injured worker will not realize there is a problem until six or seven months later. Waiting too long to contact an attorney can be very harmful to your case. Your health and your financial well-being are dependent on the decisions that you make regarding how to handle your case.
What type of compensation does workers’ comp provide?
Caring for you and your family also can mean receiving money every week if the doctor writes you out of work, or if the doctor gives you work restrictions the employer can’t accommodate. In this situation, weekly benefit checks paid to you by the insurance company are appropriate. The amount of these checks is calculated based on your average weekly earnings.
This rate of compensation is a critical number in your case,because your weekly amount while you are out of work, as well as the overall value of your claim are both dependent on this number being as high as possible. An experienced lawyer can look into many different factors and make sure you receive everything you deserve.
Determining the overall value of your case at the end of treatment is one of the most important times an injured worker will go through. Numerous statutes and regulations can affect your recovery. These statutes and regulations will range from how much for a specific body part all the way to compensating you for a total loss of earning capacity.
Some cases will also fall into a partial loss of earning capacity situation where the injured worker is entitled to certain other benefits. The most serious cases are death, or when a worker has an accident that causes paraplegia, quadriplegia or suffers a traumatic brain injury. In these situations, it is critical to know your rights and to what long-term medical benefits you are entitled.
An insurance company will not want to pay a claim for paraplegia, quadriplegia or traumatic brain injury, so it will likely fight every step of the way. Remember, it is the job of an insurance adjuster to settle your case quickly and for as little money and benefits as possible. It is the job of an experienced lawyer to get you all the benefits you deserve and to make sure all your rights are protected.
Therefore, it is very important to report your accident as soon as possible, report all of your symptoms to the doctor and to contact an experienced lawyer as quickly as possible.
Can I choose my own doctors?
In some states, you have a right to see a doctor that you choose, but it is much more common that an injured worker will be sent to a doctor chosen and paid for by the employer. Your initial doctor’s report will most likely have a big impact upon your case and the benefits you receive,especially what treatment will be authorized. The doctor’s desire to get future business from your employer or the insurance company may motivate a doctor to minimize the seriousness of your injury or to identify it as a pre-existing condition.
For example, if you injure your back and the doctor asks you if you have ever had back problems before, it would not be a good idea to inform the doctor about a long history of every time you suffered a minor pain or ache. The answer is no unless you really have suffered a significant previous injury or chronic condition.
The point is, you always want to be honest about your condition, but honesty does not translate as telling the doctor every time you took an aspirin, otherwise a company doctor will quickly label everything you have going on as a preexisting condition.
What if I need a specialist?
Sometimes the injured worker needs to be referred to a specialist. An experienced lawyer can help you get these specialists authorized by the insurance company. Medical treatment can range anywhere from pain medications or physical therapy on one end, all the way to wheelchair accessible housing in the most extreme cases.
Sometimes, significant back or neck injuries can result incomplete or incomplete paraplegia, quadriplegia, foot drop or other significant neurological problems. A specialist is usually not the same type of doctor as was your original company doctor. The specialist is still chosen and paid for by the insurance company.
Once the specialist has finished the treatment is very important to properly value your claim and determine the need for future medical treatment. The workers’ compensation insurance company is responsible for providing future medical treatment as well as providing payment for your disability in most accident cases.
It is the job of an experienced lawyer to analyze and evaluate the future needs of the injured worker to make sure that not only the worker, but the worker’s entire family is cared for.
What if my loved on was killed on the job?
If a worker is killed on the job, it is critical for the family that an experienced lawyer is hired immediately. Maybe ongoing medical treatment is not a tissue, but many other things are. The spouse and the children of the worker killed on the job are entitled to benefits from the insurance company.
There will need to be a dependency evaluation and a determination of who is entitled to what benefits. In many cases, funeral benefits are also provided for. Most importantly, the connection between work and the cause of death needs to be established and correct amount of benefits needs to be determined.
For example, a person who has a non-work related heart attack during work hours and dies might not be entitled to any benefits at all. On the other hand, a person who suffers a heart attack or stroke during work hours and dies may be entitled to all benefits if an experienced lawyer is able to show that the heart attack or stroke was caused or brought on by unusual conditions related to the deceased worker’s employment.
This is a very important distinction that a lawyer must evaluate.