You may be wondering whether it is necessary to hire an attorney to handle your worker’s compensation case.
If there are any complex issues in your case, the wisest decision is to consult with a Joplin workers compensation attorney. For example, if your employer denies your claim or you do not receive your benefits as you should, then an attorney will need to get involved. Most employees who are injured at work do not appeal the denial of their claim when they probably should.
Consulting a Joplin, Missouri workers compensation attorney is a wise thing to do. But, how much will you have to pay that attorney?
How Much Will My Joplin Workers Compensation Attorney Cost Me?
A common concern for most people who find themselves in a legal situation is whether they can afford to hire an attorney to help them. That is understandable. The first thing to understand is that the type of attorney and the type of legal matter will determine how attorneys will be paid. Typically, a Joplin workers compensation attorney will handle your case on a contingency fee basis.
What that means is, your attorney will only be paid a percentage of what you recover and, if you do not recover anything in your lawsuit, then you do not owe your attorney anything. Therefore, unlike other types of legal matters, you would not pay your Joplin workers compensation attorney by the hour for the work he or she performs on your case.
Missouri Law Regarding Workers Compensation Attorney’s Fees
Under Missouri law, a Joplin workers compensation attorney can charge up to a 25% contingency fee on each case. The only other charges that you may incur are for reasonable costs and expenses which the attorney typically pays for you and then will be reimbursed once your case is over. Usual costs and expenses include copying expenses for obtaining medical records and expert fees such as treating physicians and vocational experts.
The Purpose of Workers Compensation Claims
The purpose of a Workers Compensation claim is to ensure that employees who become injured on the job can be reimbursed for those injuries, without having to resort to the courts. The way the system works is that the injured employee receives compensation for the work-related injuries and agrees not to file a legal action against the employer. The employee is not required to prove negligence or liability in order to be compensated for his injuries, making it essentially a no-fault system.
Work-Related Injuries Must Be Reported Within the Time Required
One mistake you can make when it comes to Worker’s Comp claims is confusing the need to report your injury with actually filing a worker’s comp claim. If you fail to report your injury or delay in reporting your injury, you may be abandoning your claim. Under Missouri workers compensation law, you are required to report your on-the-job injury within 30 days of its occurrence.
Your notice should be in writing and should include the date, time and place of your injury. The notice typically needs to be delivered to your supervisor or another appropriate officer of your employer. Your notice should also describe the nature and severity of the injury. Keep in mind that failure to report your work-related injury within that 30-day period could result in losing your rights to workers’ compensation benefits.
Be Sure to Timely File Your Worker’s Compensation Claim
Once again, reporting your injury to your employer is not the same as filing a workers’ compensation claim. Generally speaking, a workers’ compensation claim must be filed within 2 years of the date of the injury. There are a few exceptions where that deadline can be extended. However, it is never wise to delay filing your claim because you risk waiving your right to benefits. Regardless, if you were treated for a work-related injury within the last three years and you have not yet received a lump sum settlement, then you should seek the advice of a Joplin workers compensation attorney as soon as possible in order to protect your rights.
Understand that Workers’ Compensation is the Exclusive Remedy Available
Before this system was put into place, an employee’s only remedy was to file a lawsuit, which required proof of damages. Now, nearly all employees are automatically entitled to workers’ compensation benefits. Likewise, the employer is automatically protected from lawsuits based on the employee’s injury. Basically, Worker’s Compensation benefits are meant to be a substitute for filing a lawsuit against the employer. In other words, if you accept workers’ compensation benefits, you waive your right to file a lawsuit.
If you have questions regarding attorney’s fees or any other workers compensation matters in Arkansas or Missouri, please contact the Cottrell Law Office for a free consultation. You can contact us either online or by calling us toll-free at (800) 364-8305.