Suffering from a workplace injury can drastically change your life. Hiring a workers’ compensation lawyer can get you the help you need.
Are you a victim of a recent workplace injury? The latest reports from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics show that there are over 2.5 million workplace injuries per year.
Are your family members or coworkers suggesting that you should find a legal professional to help with processing your case?
Read further and you’ll find out what a workers’ compensation lawyer can do for you and if hiring one is the right move. Then you can direct your attention during this time away from work to get back to your good health.
What Is Worker’s Compensation?
Victims injured as a result of their employer’s negligence or an existing workplace condition or employer’s negligence can file a worker’s compensation claim to pay for their medical fees and other expenses.
A workers’ compensation claim can apply to an accident as well as a sickness due to exposure to onsite activities, materials, or equipment.
The legal system provides a forum for victims to recover their costs with the help of a workers’ compensation attorney. Workers’ Compensation requirements are different and unique in each individual state.
These regulations are designed to create alternatives for an injured worker to keep from suing their employer for repayment. When you hire an attorney, they can help guide you through these different formats.
Workers’ compensation history has been in place in the US since 1902. By 1949, all US states had their own set of regulations to safeguard workers. Massachusetts laws were passed in 1911.
The Massachusetts Division of Insurance regulates their state’s workers’ compensation program. Their role is to make sure cases are reimbursed consistent with existing laws.
They’re also an important resource for helping employers, health care providers, and injured employees follow their existing laws.
Workers’ Compensation Benefits
When you’re applying for workers’ compensation, it’s good to know what categories there are for injury benefits. Work injury benefits fall into four different categories:
Temporary Total Disability (TTD) Benefits
Employees receive TTD benefits if they are recovering from their workplace injury and still can’t return to the job site.
There’s a waiting period to receive TTD. The injured employee must be off the job for a specified period of time before they can file a claim.
TTD benefits will continue until the employee returns to work or reaches the maximum amount of time off allowed from work by their state.
Temporary Partial Disability (TBD) Benefits
Employees receive TPD benefits when they return to work in a reduced capacity or schedule.
An employee’s TTD benefit stops when they go back to work at a full-time capacity or reach the maximum amount of time off allowed by their state’s program.
Permanent Partial Disability (PPD) Benefits
Employees receive PPD benefits if they receive a permanent impairment, (i.e., loss of their limb) that occurred during a worksite accident.
These benefits depend on the severity of the worker’s permanent injury. A specific number of weeks gets assigned to a specific injury and multiplied by the employee’s salary eligible under TTD.
PPD payments are disbursed to an employee once they’ve reached their maximum medical recovery.
Permanent Total Disability (PTD) Benefits
Workers receive PTD benefits if they are severely disabled due to a worksite injury and can’t return to the workforce in any job function.
Some states will reduce PTD benefits if an injured worker begins to receive Social Security Disability Insurance.
Filing Your Workers Compensation Case
Since all US states have their own set of regulations, it’s not hard to get confused when applying for workers’ compensation. Each state workers’ compensation program, however, contains these similar routine steps:
Notify Your Employer
Injured workers must alert their employer about their worksite injury. This notification should be in writing or done orally. Make sure to check if your employer has any specific procedures in place for reporting any workplace illnesses or injuries.
See Your Doctor
Schedule a check-up with your doctor after your injury takes place. You’ll need their medical opinion to diagnose your injury and treat it as soon as possible.
Ask your physician to include any details they think are important to proving that your worksite accident is responsible for your condition.
Collect Information From Your Employer’s Insurance Provider
Once you’ve contacted your employer about your injury, they will send over a First Report of Injury or Illness that they prepared with the help of their insurance carrier.
This is also the opportunity where they may ask you to meet with their own workers’ compensation doctor to further discuss your injuries.
What Is a Workers’ Compensation Lawyer?
Workers’ compensation lawyers represent injured workers whose injuries were the result of worksite negligence or unsafe conditions. A workers’ compensation attorney is an expert in the field of law known as tort law.
A workers’ compensation attorney guides their clients through any negotiation settlement with their employer and their insurance company.
They can also guide your workers’ compensation lawsuit through the trial court system.
What Can a Workers’ Compensation Lawyer Do for You?
While you are off from work recovering from your injuries, the best workers’ compensation lawyer will be hard at work handling your case.
There are specific complex tasks and services that a workers’ compensation lawyer can do for you. These services can include:
Worker’s compensation attorneys begin to build their client’s case when they collect the details and other evidence behind your workplace injury.
Most of the time, this evidence includes police reports or workplace accident reports. They will take photos of your workplace site and collect statements from your co-workers or other onsite witnesses.
Draft Your Demand for Compensation
A Demand for Compensation is a formal document that outlines the employee’s case and why they believe the employer should reimburse them for their medical expenses.
A Demand for Compensation will summarize any specific damages and the expenses that were necessary to correct them.
If employers reject a worker’s demands, a workers’ compensation attorney can then file a workers’ compensation lawsuit on their client’s behalf to recover their damages.
A lawsuit officially informs the trial court system that a worker intends to seek payment through the legal system. A workers’ compensation lawsuit will contain the client’s accident site evidence as well any legal arguments.
Navigate Pre-Trial Procedures
The pretrial process includes sessions where the injured employee and their employer meet with a judge before the hearing begins.
During these meetings, a workers’ compensation lawyer will request an employer’s witness testimony, evidence, and legal argument. These meetings are called “discovery.”
As discovery proceeds, a workers’ compensation lawyer will schedule a time for depositions. This is the process where they will cross-examine anyone who represents your employer as well as other witnesses involved with your case.
Alternative Settlement Negotiations
Your workers’ compensation attorney will also help guide you through a process called alternative dispute resolution. Alternative dispute resolution includes other procedures called arbitration and mediation.
Arbitration is the process when a workers’ compensation lawyer will present their client’s claim to non-judge or neutral decision-makers. This kind of decision-maker has the authority to make binding decisions.
Mediation is the forum where both sides of a workers’ compensation case can resolve the lawsuit outside the courtroom.
Lawyers on both sides of the case will draft all settlement papers that summarize any details like due dates or a final payment amount.
Present Arguments for Assigning Responsibility
Most US states have laws in place known as at-fault laws. An at-fault law means that when anyone is hurt in an accident, they can’t be over 49 percent responsible for the accident if they want to recover their damages.
When an investigation starts to reach this level of scrutiny, most lawsuits are transferred over to a local court and a judge can decide the final outcome.
If this happens in your workers’ compensation case, an attorney will help present your case to the judge.
Investigate Conflicting Insurance or Medical Reports
Any conflicting information in an insurance or medical accident report could mean denying your case.
Your workers’ compensation injury lawyer can investigate your case and present evidence along with yours. Their evidence can help argue against what’s included in other conflicting reports.
Build Third-Party Liability
Many times, workplace injuries are neither the employer’s fault nor that of their work conditions.
Many times, injuries are the fault of another co-worker. If this occurs, victims then have two cases to handle: a claim with their employer and another third-party (the other employee).
A third-party liability claim is a lawsuit filed against co-workers who are responsible for the victim’s injury.
A workers’ compensation attorney will advise their clients if they have a third-party liability case worth pursuing.
What Are Your Next Steps?
Does your recent workplace accident sound like these same circumstances? If it does, then hiring a workers’ compensation lawyer is the best move to make.
Look for an attorney with broad tort law experience. Their experience will be helpful if you need to negotiate any settlements. It can also help you if your lawsuit heads onward to trial.
Don’t forget to check out our website for other information on the questions to ask a workers’ compensation lawyer. Follow these pointers and you’ll see the best outcome for your case.