Workers or employees who have suffered or sustained work-related injury or illnesses are entitled to workers’ compensation benefits. However, many employers or insurance companies usually deny worker’s comp claims, even those that are legitimate. As a result, injured employees often have to deal with a complicated system of appeals. Some employers may even end up disheartened by the process and give up; others try to navigate the system on their own. If you’ve ever faced a situation such as this, you need the help of a workers compensation lawyer Atlanta.
Hiring a professional and experienced worker’s compensation lawyer will improve your chances of getting the benefits you deserve. A lawyer will represent you at your worker’s comp hearing and communicate with the worker’s comp insurer on your behalf. They will also collect medical evidence supporting your claim and help you reach an agreement on a good settlement.
The claims adjusters and lawyers representing the insurance company are not there to help you—they’re there to help the insurance company. They will not think twice about rejecting your legitimate claim for no apparent reason. The good news is, there are a couple of things a workers’ compensation lawyer Atlanta does to turn the tide in your favor.
- Produce evidence (medical, vocational, and others)
One of the common reasons why most worker’s comp claims get rejected is the lack of sufficient medical evidence to support it. Even if your claim does get approved, you have a higher chance of receiving all the medical treatment you need (plus benefits) if you can present strong medical evidence to support your case.
A lawyer can help produce the medical evidence by:
- Collecting medical records
- Organizing or recommending treatment with some physicians
- Getting medical opinions from your physicians and independent medical examinations.
- Represent you when you need to appear and answer questions at a deposition
- Perform depositions of medical experts
Different types of evidence can help strengthen your claim, such as:
- A sworn statement from a vocational expert regarding the physical requirements of your job
- Testimonies from friends and family members with regards to your daily activities
- Evidence of your employer’s history of poor workplace safety or insufficient training.
With the help of an experienced workers’ compensation lawyer Atlanta, you’ll be able to understand what evidence you need to improve your chances of winning your claim.
- Help Negotiate Settlement
A seasoned workers comp lawyer knows how to estimate how much your case is worth—or how much benefits you’re entitled to—when negotiating a settlement with your employer’s insurance company. There are a number of factors that influence the settlement you’re entitled to, such as:
- How severe the injuries are
- The resulting limitations in what you can do
- Your past medical expenses and the cost of medical treatment in the future
- Whether the injury resulted in long-term impairments and, if so, how severe the permanent disability is
- Whether your employer owes you for past temporary disability (wage loss) benefits as well as penalties for payments and loss of wages
A good lawyer knows insurance companies’ tricks and methods to lowball and fake “final offers.” With a couple of exceptions, workers’ comp lawyers are highly likely to participate in productive negotiations with insurance companies compared to when applicants act alone.
Your lawyer can guarantee that your settlement agreement is written correctly to avoid any issues in the long run. For example, you might miss out on hundreds of dollars every month on Social Security disability benefits because you have an improperly designed settlement agreement. A lawyer can come up with a fair estimate of your current and future medical expenses, so the settlement agreement can take that into account.
While worker’s comp judges must approve settlements, you shouldn’t rely on the judge to protect your interests. A workers’ compensation lawyer Atlanta is necessary for any settlement negotiation.
- Represent You at Your Hearing or Trial
If you cannot reach a settlement with your employer’s insurance provider, your case will be brought to an administrative hearing or trial before a workers’ comp judge. During the investigation process or what we call “discovery,” your lawyer will collect depositions of witnesses, gather your medical records, conduct legal research, write pleadings, and make sure that everything is submitted on time.
At your hearing, the workers’ comp lawyer will present a case theory to the judge, present opening and closing arguments, examine witnesses, and even raise objections when the insurance company does something inappropriate.
A worker’s comp lawyer can also appeal the decision if you’re unhappy with the result of your hearing.
- Give You Advise on Third-Party Claims and Other Benefits
Apart from your workers’ comp claim, you might also file a personal injury claim against a third-party (someone besides your lawyer) whose negligence led to or contributed to your injury. The most common target of third-party suits is drivers and manufacturers of faulty equipment. A personal injury claim may be worth more than a worker’s comp claim because damages can include pain and suffering and loss of potential earnings.
How Much Do You Pay for Workers’ Comp Attorney’s Fees?
Workers’ comp lawyers work under a contingency fee agreement, meaning they charge no upfront money. The lawyer only gets paid when you win your case. Many states specify how much workers’ comp lawyers can charge, often at 10%-20% of your benefits. In addition, lawyer’s fees need to be approved by the worker’s comp judge or appeals board.
When Should You Contact a Worker’s Comp Lawyer?
If you have a simple, straightforward, low-value workers’ compensation claim, you might be able to represent yourself and win. But there are cases where it’s necessary to hire a lawyer, especially if:
- You don’t have enough medical evidence to back up your claim
- You have a high-value claim, or you’ve sustained severe, long-term injuries
- Your employer challenges your claim
- You’re not sure if you should accept a settlement, or
- Your claim has been denied, and you want to file an appeal