You may be wondering when you should hire a workers compensation lawyer. If there are any complex issues in your case, the wisest decision is to consult with a Workers’ Compensation attorney. For instance, if your employer denies your claim or you do not receive your benefits as you should, then an attorney should get involved. Most employees who are injured at work do not appeal the denial of their claim. Consulting a workers’ compensation attorney provides you with the best chance of receiving a fair settlement for your injuries.
What is the purpose of filing a workers compensation claim?
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. But, what happens if you file a lawsuit anyway?
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.
When you should hire a workers compensation lawyer
If there are any complex issues in your case, the wisest decision is to consult with a Workers’ Compensation attorney. For instance, if your employer denies your claim or you do not receive your benefits, as you should, then an attorney should get involved. Nearly 80% of employees who are injured at work do not appeal the denial of their claim. Consulting a workers’ compensation attorney provides you with the best chance of receiving a fair settlement for your injuries.
When it may be alright to represent yourself
Generally speaking, if you suffered a minor workplace injury and missed little or no work as a result, you may be able to successfully represent yourself. Your chances of success increase if you employer does not dispute the injury was work-related and you did not have any pre-existing injuries or conditions that may be relative to your claim.
Is the workers’ comp settlement offer sufficient?
In some cases, an employer will offer to settle a Workers’ Comp claim for an amount that does not actually cover your lost wages and your medical bills. If you are concerned that the settlement offer your employer made is not sufficient, it is a good idea to consult with an attorney. It is not always good to simply allow the Workers’ Comp judge to determine whether the settlement is fair because they typically approve the agreement as long as it isn’t “grossly” unfair.
You are unable to return to work
If you are in a situation where your medical condition prevents you from returning to your old job, or from performing any work at all, then you have likely suffered permanent partial disability or permanent total disability. In that case, you may be entitled to lifetime weekly payments, or a lump sum payment, to compensate for your lost wages.
You believe your employer has retaliated against you
If you believe your employer has taken some action against you, in retaliation for filing a Workers’ Comp claim, such a demotion or reduction in hours or pay, then you may also have a claim for unlawful discrimination or retaliation. In that case, you should contact a workers compensation lawyer immediately.
Filing potential third-party claims
Despite the fact that Workers’ Comp law prevents an employee from filing a lawsuit against the employer for work-related injuries, it does not prevent legal claims against a third-party, when that person’s negligence contributed to the employee’s injuries. For instance, if you are a delivery truck driver and you are injured in an auto accident caused by someone else, you may be able to file a lawsuit against the at-fault driver. You can do this in addition to receiving your Workers’ Comp benefits. In these cases, you should also seek the advice of an attorney.
If you have questions regarding workers compensation claims, or any other personal injury concerns in Arkansas or Missouri, please contact the Cottrell Law Office for a consultation, either online or by calling us as (888) 433-4861.