If you’re dealing with a work-related injury or illness, you may be thinking whether to hire a workers’ compensation lawyer or handle your case yourself. There are many factors involved, such as the extent of your condition, the overall circumstances that led to it, and the behavior of your employer or its insurance company.
Generally, if all of the following are true for you, you may not have to hire a lawyer:
> You sustained a minor injury, such as a small cut or a twisted ankle)
> Your employer acknowledges that your injury was a result of work.
> The injury did not make a significant difference in your ability to work.
> The workplace injury did to aggravate any pre-existing condition you may have.
On the other hand, below are a few sample situations where the role of a workers’ compensation attorney becomes crucial:
> Your employer isn’t paying your benefits promptly or flatly denies responsibility.
In most cases, employers and their insurers reject workers’ compensation claims in the belief that workers’ will not bother to appeal. And the sad fact is, they’re usually correct. Hiring a workers’ comp lawyer costs zero upfront (explanation will come later), and it offers you the best chance of getting a fair award or settlement.
> Your employer agrees to cover only part, not all, of your medical bills or lost wages.
If you’re not sure whether the settlement offer you got is fair enough, don’t just trust the compensation judge blindly. Though workers’ comp settlements must have judicial clearance, judges tend to sign off any agreement that is not conspicuously unjust. If you really want someone who will fight for your interests, hire a lawyer
> Your medical issues have significantly reduced your ability to perform your previous work, or made you totally incapable of performing any work at all.
If you’ve had a partial or total permanent disability, you could be entitled to weekly payments or a single lump sum payment to compensate for your lost wages. Because cases like these are very expensive for insurance companies, they will do everything in their power not to have to pay what you rightly deserve. A reputable workers’ comp lawyer will give you a good fight.
> You are receiving or planning to apply for Social Security disability benefits.
If your workers’ comp settlement is not properly structures, you could end up with considerably lower Social Security disability payments. An experienced lawyer can ensure that this problem is kept at bay.
These are only a few of the scenarios where a workers’ comp lawyer’s expertise can make or break your case. To be safe, don’t hesitate to consult one so you can talk about the possibilities relative to your specific case.