Thousands of people get injured at work every minute. There were 2.8 million nonfatal injuries at work in 2019. More than 888,000 of them caused an employee to miss at least one day of work.
Whether it’s a day of lost wages or weeks, it can cause significant hardship for you and your family. You don’t deserve to have that happen.
That’s why there’s workers compensation. You can recover those lost wages. Unfortunately, the process has so many loopholes, you have to consider getting a workers comp attorney.
In order to make that decision for yourself, you need to know how workers comp works and how an attorney can work on your behalf.
This guide has you covered, and by the end, you’ll know if you need an attorney and how to find the right one. Are you ready to learn more?
Let’s get to it!
A Brief Introduction to How Workers Comp Works
Workers compensation is a law that was first passed in 1911 to protect railroad workers who injured themselves at work due to negligence. By 1948, every state had a workers compensation program.
Employers in just about every state are required to carry workers compensation insurance as soon as they hire their first employee.
Workers compensation programs are managed by state labor boards, but the actual insurance policies are purchased through private insurers. The state sets the insurance rates and approves certain insurance companies to offer workers comp insurance.
When you are injured at work, you have to report the injury immediately to your HR department or supervisor. They will ask you to fill out the paperwork, and they will submit a claim to the insurance company.
Each state has its own laws regarding reporting the injury. Some require that you report the injury immediately. Others only give you 3-10 days. No matter what the law says, you need to report the injury right away. The longer you wait, your case becomes more difficult to prove.
Why is understanding this process important? A lot of workers compensation claims are denied. There are a lot of reasons as to why. Some people didn’t understand the deadlines to file workers compensation, which ends up in a denial.
Remember that you’re dealing with insurance companies. These companies aren’t in business to pay out claims, only when they feel like they have no choice.
Claims adjusters work for the insurance company and they look for reasons to deny claims and “reduce fraud.” They look for inconsistencies in paperwork and your actions before and after the incident.
Getting a workers comp attorney will help you get through this situation.
The Work of a Workers Comp Attorney
Are you wondering what a workers compensation attorney actually does? They work with insurance companies to get you the settlement that you deserve.
Many claims are denied, which is when most people hire a workers compensation attorney. About 70% of all denied claims are eventually paid out.
These claims also cost more to the insurance company. The average amount paid for claims that don’t involve an attorney is less than $8,000. Claims that are denied and involve an attorney pay out more than $36,000.
It’s safe to say that a workers compensation attorney can get more money for your claim than you can get on your own.
How Much Does a Workers Compensation Attorney Cost?
The main obstacle for workers that prevents them from hiring an attorney is money. They wonder how they’ll be able to afford an attorney if they can barely pay their bills.
There are a few ways that attorneys get paid. They charge an hourly rate, which is usually between $200-$250 an hour.
Workers comp attorneys use a different way to get paid. They work on a contingency basis. That means that they don’t receive money unless your claim pays out.
In that case, the workers compensation attorney gets a certain percentage of your settlement money. Don’t let this fact intimidate you. A workers compensation lawyer can’t take most of your settlement.
Each state has a cap as to how much a workers compensation attorney can receive from your settlement. The amount ranges between 10%-25%, depending on your location.
Ways to Help Your Case
One thing that you need to understand is that workers compensation attorneys have to believe they can win your case before they take it. They’re not going to put in the work if they think they won’t get paid for it in the end.
You need to make sure that you take the right steps to ensure that your case has a great chance to get a settlement.
The steps you take after a work incident are vital. You have to report your incident right away. You also need to document as much as possible.
Go to a doctor and take excellent notes as to what you talked about. Also, get a copy of the doctor’s report for your records.
Knowing that an attorney can get more money for you, you don’t want to wait for a denial to get an attorney involved.
Tips for Getting a Workers Comp Attorney
How do you go about finding a workers compensation attorney? You don’t want to hire just anyone. You want to make sure that you hire the best workers compensation attorney in your area. These are the things that you can look for in an attorney.
Do you know of anyone who had a personal injury or workers compensation claim? If you do, you should ask them who had represented them in their case.
If not, then you can ask people in your network for recommendations. Once you get a few names, do a search online to start to narrow down your list. Reach out to each one and schedule a free consultation.
Standing and Experience
The attorney that you hire should have a lot of workers compensation experience. They’ll know the different insurance companies and how they work. That will be to your advantage.
You ought to take a look at the attorney’s standing with the state bar association to make sure they are in good standing.
How many successful claims did the attorney handle? What was the average settlement amount? These questions help you determine if the attorney can get a big settlement for you.
Every case is different, and that doesn’t mean that the attorney will get that amount for you. The figures presented are a sign that the attorney can get results.
Ask the attorney how your case compares to these cases and whether or not you could expect to see a similar settlement.
The attorney doesn’t get paid until you get a settlement. There are some lawyers that will still charge office and administrative fees while they work on your claim.
Take the time to understand what the attorney charges, and if there are additional fees on top of the percentage of the settlement.
How Your Case Gets Handled
Most workers compensation attorneys don’t handle every case personally. They have administrative assistants and paralegals to help them manage their caseloads.
You want to know who is going to do the bulk of the work on your case. You also want to know how the firm will communicate with you and how often.
Some firms are so big, you’ll barely speak to an attorney. You’ll get to know the staff, though. At other firms, you work closely with the attorney.
Comfort Level With the Attorney
You’re going to have to share important information with your attorney. They’ll need to look at your past, your financial situation, and your medical issues.
You have to feel comfortable with your attorney in order to share this information with them. If you feel like you have to hold anything back, it will only hurt your case.
Getting a Workers Comp Attorney
The decision to hire a workers comp attorney isn’t hard. Getting a workers comp attorney early in the process is a great first step in having a positive outcome for your claim.
What is hard is understanding what goes into the workers comp process. It’s a complicated mix of time and paperwork, all of which can cause a lot of stress when you’re out of work.
The other decision you need to make is to hire the right attorney to begin with. It’s not always easy, but with the right questions and information, you can find someone who will win your case for you.
Head over to the Health section of this site to find useful tips that can help you.