A workers’ comp attorney can determine how much you deserve in a settlement and help you file the correct paperwork. They can also attend hearings if the insurance company disputes your claim.
If the judge rules unfavorably, you can request a review by the workers’ compensation board. They are composed of three members who listen to both sides of the case.
Filing a Claim
The lawyer will fill out paperwork, speak with medical providers on behalf of the injured worker, and gather evidence for the case. They may also be required to attend hearings, mediations, arbitrations, trials and depositions to represent the claimant in court or at other proceedings.
Workers’ comp attorneys are particularly helpful in cases where a worker suffers a permanent injury or illness. In these cases, the person may be entitled to weekly payments or a lump sum to cover their lost income. Insurance companies will try to cut corners or outright reject these claims in order to keep payouts low, and a knowledgeable workers’ comp attorney can help to prevent this.
A workers’ compensation attorney can also help when the employer or insurance company denies a claim for any reason. It is important to have an experienced legal team on your side in these situations, as it can be difficult to challenge a denied claim without sufficient proof or documentation.
Negotiating a Settlement
When it comes time for settlement, your workers’ comp lawyer will help you decide whether to accept an insurer’s offer or take the case to trial. The amount of money you receive will depend on a number of factors, including your attorney’s, mediator’s, or judge’s opinions (in addition to a lawyers’ fee, which is taken out of the final sum).
Your lawyer may also be able to negotiate a better payout for medical expenses and lost wages. A top workers’ comp attorney will have superior negotiation skills based on an accurate assessment of what your case is honestly worth. They will also know how a settlement might impact your future job prospects, and will be able to explain whether a lump-sum settlement is best for you or whether it would be more beneficial to have payments made over a long period of time. In some cases, your workers’ compensation settlement might be offset by Social Security disability payments.
Attending a Hearing
After the WCB receives your request, it will schedule a hearing. The hearing is presided over by a workers’ compensation judge, who will evaluate all evidence you submit, including witness testimony and medical records. The insurance company will also present its side of the case.
Your lawyer will ask you questions during your direct examination, which involves the workers’ comp judge asking you about your medical history related to the work injury, how you sustained the injury, and your current symptoms and limitations. The insurance company’s lawyer will then cross-examine you. During this, they will try to catch you in a lie or exaggeration and call into question your credibility.
A workers’ compensation hearing can be very difficult for injured workers to tackle on their own. It requires persuading the judge, using legal arguments and supporting documentation, that they are entitled to a specific amount of benefits. Workers’ comp laws lower the cost of hiring attorneys, which makes representation essential.
Representing You in Court
Many people get injured at work and find themselves in a difficult position. Their employer and insurance company may be trying to shortchange them, denying them benefits or giving them less than they deserve. Having a workers’ compensation lawyer on your side can help you navigate the system and fight for a settlement that genuinely reflects your injuries.
In the case of a trial or hearing, your workers’ comp attorney will present you to the judge and make opening and closing arguments. They will also examine witnesses, conduct a thorough discovery process, and ensure all documents are submitted on time.
A top-level claimant’s attorney will also have superior negotiation skills based on an accurate assessment of what your case is honestly worth—no pipe dreams or inflated figures. They will also be able to recognize when an insurer’s “final offer” isn’t quite final. They can also assist with applying for long-term benefits like SSDI if necessary.