Do you need a workers’ comp lawyer? 8 factors to consider
If you have been injured on the job in Georgia, you may be wondering if it’s okay to represent yourself. You may even be pressured to work it out with your employer and the insurance company on your own.
The good news is that it’s your choice.
If you decide to work with an attorney, you may get more workers’ compensation benefits. In addition, you’ll have your own legal representative to help you file for additional medical expenses, financial compensation and approval for ongoing care. After all, your employer probably has its own legal team—or at least an insurance company with a legal team.
Are there any cut and dry workers’ compensation claims?
In some cases, employers work hard to take care of their employees. In other cases, they place profits above the welfare of their staff, or they may have a particularly aggressive insurance company that won’t recognize an injured worker’s full claim.
When things get complicated in a workers’ compensation case, you should hire a lawyer immediately. Here are some common examples of cases that typically benefit from professional legal representation:
Your employer denies your claim or doesn’t pay upfront.
Your employer has a duty to respond to your claim right away. Some employers don’t believe claims and simply deny them out of principle at first, hoping that they will go away. This is when you need to hire an attorney to make sure that you get benefits through a settlement in a timely fashion.
Your employer’s settlement offer is too low.
A lawyer can negotiate to bring up the amount of your settlement and work with a compensation judge to ensure that you get the right amount for your injury. While workers’ compensation settlements need to have judicial merit, judges typically sign off on any agreement as long as it’s grossly unfair. An attorney can show that your injuries require more coverage due to wage loss, ongoing care problems or gross negligence that led to the worker’s death.
Medical issues prevent you from returning to work.
These cases are difficult, and it’s often a tough fight to get benefits for ongoing wage loss and medical care. However, if your injuries led to a permanent handicap, and you are now disabled, then you may be entitled to weekly payments or one large lump sum settlement to make up for these lost wages.
In many of these cases, insurance companies don’t want to compensate the worker because of the cost. A knowledgeable workers’ injury lawyer can help you get organized and secure the benefits owed for your permanent injury.
You plan to apply for Social Security disability.
If you don’t receive a settlement that is structured to cover you without affecting Social Security benefits, you could actually reduce your Social Security disability payments. Experienced attorneys understand how to structure settlements so that your SSI benefits are not affected.
Your employer retaliates after you file a claim.
Did you return to work after filing a claim only to be fired or demoted? You can seek compensation for a reduction of hours, slashed pay, demotions, termination or any other action taken against you after returning to work. You should contact an attorney immediately if you experience any discrimination upon filing a workers’ compensation claim.
The injury occurred as a result of a third party’s actions or employer’s gross misconduct.
The workers’ compensation system is designed to handle straightforward cases. If you fall because there was a leak in the roof, it can be documented and proven that there was a problem.
How do you prove that another employee purposefully sprayed water in an area that led to your slip and fall? Who is at fault? You are allowed to sue outside of workers’ compensation in certain cases where there was someone else or other actions that took place that contributed to you suffering an injury.
Your employer doesn’t have insurance.
You’ll definitely want to contact a lawyer if your employer doesn’t have workers’ compensation insurance as legally required, as this will lead to a lawsuit where you will need to file the right paperwork to sue your employer. In most cases, this ends with a settlement offer, but the employer may also face fines and other penalties.
Do I need a workers’ compensation lawyer or can I represent myself?
You should consider whether the workers’ compensation offer is enough to cover your wage loss and pay your medical expenses. You may want to consult with a lawyer if you’re unsure of the laws or how much you could receive for your injury.
In many cases, you could be owed hundreds of thousands of dollars more than the insurance company initially offers. That’s why you should talk to a lawyer to evaluate the offer. Don’t miss out on the benefits and wages owed to you.