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 had no effect on a pre-existing condition you might have.
On the other hand, here are examples of situations that clearly require the expertise of a workers’ compensation lawyer:
> Your employer doesn’t pay your benefits right or denies your claim outright.
Employers and workers’ compensation insurers typically reject valid claims, thinking workers won’t push it. And the sad fact is, they’re usually correct. There’s no need to pay a workers’ comp attorney anything upfront, and your chances of getting a fair settlement or award is highest.
> Your employer only wants to cover a portion of your medical bills or lost wages instead of all of it.
If you’re unsure about a settlement offer being good enough, don’t put your complete trust in the compensation judge in terms of giving you a fair deal. Workers’ comp settlements do require judicial approval, but usually, judges will just sign off an agreement if it is not grossly unjust. If you really want someone who will focus on getting you the best results possible, a lawyer is your best bet.
> Your medical condition has limited your ability to perform your previous job, or have rendered you totally incapable of performing it 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. These cases are normally very expensive for insurers, and they will exhaust all means to avoid paying you what you deserve. To give them a good fight, hire a knowledgeable and seasoned workers’ comp attorney.
> You are getting or would like 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. But if you hire an experienced lawyer, this problem can be eliminated or at least minimized.
There can be an unlimited number of scenarios where the help of a workers’ comp lawyer is critical. To be safe, don’t be afraid to consult one and discuss the possibilities pertaining to your particular case.