10 Signs You Need a Workplace Injury Attorney
Legally Reviewed and Edited by: Terry Cochran
Whether you should consult a lawyer for your workplace injury claim depends on how your employer and insurance provider handle your claim. You should consider a few signs when deciding to seek legal representation from a lawyer who deals with workers’ compensation claims.
Your Employer Delays Your Claim
In Michigan, you have 90 days to report your workplace injury and two years to make a workers’ compensation claim. After filing your claim, the employer and their insurance company have 30 days to decide whether you can receive your benefits. Your employer should mail you a denial letter or begin paying your benefits after 30 days.
Michigan imposes a penalty of $50 per day, with a maximum of $1,500, if the employer and the insurance company fail to pay benefits within 30 days of the due date. However, the penalties do not apply if the distribution of benefits is in dispute. Working with a workers’ comp lawyer can help you find out if your benefits are being disputed and if your claim is being delayed.
The Insurance Company Denies Your Claim
Workers’ compensation insurance can deny claims for many reasons. The insurance company may claim that your job was not the cause of your injury or that the accident report conflicts with your first medical records.
Michigan’s workers’ compensation system allows you to appeal a denial of your claim with a formal dispute. It is possible to begin a formal dispute with the employer and the insurance company by filing an Application for Mediation or Hearing. A workers’ compensation magistrate will decide on the payment of additional work injury insurance benefits and how long you should receive them. If you choose to file a formal dispute following your workers’ compensation claim denial, seek legal representation.
The Insurance Company Disputes Your Disability Rating
Michigan’s workers’ compensation benefits cover wage loss due to disability. Blindness and incurable mental conditions qualify you for total and permanent disability benefits. You may also be eligible for disability benefits with the total and permanent loss of your eyes or limbs, including your feet, arms, and legs.
Your permanent disability rating determines the amount you receive for total and permanent disability benefits. In some instances, the insurer may request that you submit to an independent medical examination (IME) with a doctor of their choice if they disagree with your treating physician’s rating of your disability.
A lawyer at our law firm can help you negotiate a fair settlement or convince a judge that you deserve a higher disability rating to receive your rightful compensation.
Your Settlement Offer Doesn’t Cover All Your Medical Bills
In Michigan, the amount of a workers’ compensation settlement depends on what the insurer expects to pay as a lump sum settlement. This amount includes the costs of medical treatment, future medical bills, lost wages, and future earnings. In 2020, the average workers’ compensation settlement amount was $59,235.42.
However, the settlement offer you receive may not be enough to cover your medical expenses when you require surgery and other expensive medical treatments. A workers’ compensation lawyer can advise you on your settlement options and what a reasonable amount would be for an injured worker.
The Insurance May Not Pay the Full Amount of Benefits You Deserve
Along with medical and wage loss benefits, many Michigan workers are eligible for additional benefits, such as attendant care. Any family member, such as a spouse, sibling, child, or the combination of these members, can provide up to 56 hours of attendant care per week with daily tasks such as eating, taking prescriptions, and mobility assistance. You can also receive professional help from a nursing agency with daily tasks if you need 24-hour care.
Insurers should compensate family members at the same hourly rate as professionals for these services. You and your attorney can negotiate an hourly rate for your carer and the number of attendant care hours with the insurer.
Insurance companies typically compare similar services with other commercial health organizations’ competitive prices. If you need 24-hour care, your lawyer might negotiate a higher hourly rate and more weekly hours for you.
Your Employer Retaliates Against You for Filing a Workers’ Compensation Claim
An employee who suffers a work-related injury may fear their employer will retaliate against them when they file a workers’ compensation claim. Termination is one form of retaliation for an employee who files for workers’ compensation benefits.
There are other types of retaliation employers can use. An employer may attempt to obstruct the workers’ compensation claim process. They may even refuse to rehire you because of previous workers’ compensation claims.
Michigan’s Workers Disability Compensation Act prohibits employers from retaliating against employees who file for workers’ compensation after a workplace accident. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) enforces the federal anti-retaliation laws.
According to EEOC enforcement guidelines, there must be a causal connection between the protected activity and the materially adverse action to prove retaliation. A workers’ compensation lawyer can examine your case to see if your employer retaliated against you under state and federal laws because you filed a workers’ compensation claim.
You Plan to Apply for Social Security Retirement Benefits
If you receive workers’ compensation, you will have to coordinate your Social Security retirement payments with your compensation. Insurance companies can only choose one method of coordination for your workers’ compensation and Social Security retirement payments.
Michigan cuts workers’ compensation payments for disabled workers receiving Social Security retirement benefits. The reduction begins at 5% of the workers’ compensation benefit and is adjusted every year. The maximum reduction of workers’ compensation benefits is 50%.
A workers’ compensation lawyer at Cochran, Kroll & Associates, P.C. can develop a strategy to ensure you continue to receive your workers’ comp and minimize the impact on your retirement benefits.
You Have a Claim Against a Third Party
While workers’ compensation covers medical costs and loss of wages, it does not allow employees to sue their employers in a civil lawsuit. However, if a third party’s negligence causes your injuries at work, you may bring a third-party claim against them.
Third-party injury claims work similarly to conventional personal injury claims. If your accident resulted from you falling from a defective ladder on a construction site, you might file a personal injury claim against the ladder’s manufacturer.
Hiring a personal injury lawyer can help you with your third-party claim and help you understand your next steps.
You Have a Workers’ Compensation Hearing
When mediation does not resolve your dispute about your workers’ compensation claim, your case goes to trial before a workers’ compensation magistrate. Before the trial, a pretrial hearing is the first formal step.
The parties’ representatives meet with the worker’s compensation magistrate during a pretrial hearing. The magistrate reviews all paperwork, ensures notification of all parties in the case and makes sure that everyone has appropriate legal representation.
An experienced workers’ comp lawyer can ensure you have all the evidence necessary to prove you’re entitled to a certain amount of benefits. They can help you understand the insurance company’s offer and determine whether a lump sum settlement would cause a higher likelihood of receiving sufficient benefits for your injuries.
You Are Unsure What to Do Next After Your Accident
While you are not legally obligated to hire a workers’ comp attorney, having a qualified lawyer on your side is in your best interests. When filing a claim, you might encounter unfamiliar legal terminology and paperwork that your attorney can help you understand.
A personal injury attorney with experience in workplace injury cases works hard to get the best result for your case. You can search for a trustworthy attorney through recommendations, on social media, and by checking out Michigan’s state bar.
A skilled attorney can offer legal advice on filing your claim within Michigan’s two-year statute of limitations. The time and effort to find one is worth it when you’re confident your lawyer will fight aggressively for the benefits you deserve after a work injury.
Call Today for Help With Your Workers’ Comp Claim
When you are hurt on the job, you need to understand your workers’ rights. These may include filing for workers’ compensation and proceeding with a personal injury case against a third party.
Our work injury attorneys understand the workers’ compensation laws and the personal injury legal processes. At Cochran, Kroll & Associates P.C., we are ready to help you navigate your workplace injury claim.
Our contingency fee basis means we only get paid if we win your case, so there is no financial risk to you to get started. Call our law firm today at 866-MICH-LAW and schedule your no-obligation, free case evaluation.
Disclaimer : The information provided is general and not for legal advice. The blogs are not intended to provide legal counsel and no attorney-client relationship is created nor intended.