Do I Need to Hire a Workers’ Compensation Lawyer?
It’s an employer’s responsibility to provide a safe, healthy working environment for their staff regardless of the industry. They can achieve this by supplying adequate health and safety training and equipment, whether they work in an office, a building site, or anywhere else.
Unfortunately, accidents and injuries can occur at work, and worker’s compensation protects both the employee and employer, but do you need to hire a workers’ comp lawyer in order to benefit from it?
What is Workers’ Compensation?
Workers’ compensation is a form of insurance that employers in the state of Michigan must hold if they employ one or more employees for 35 hours or more per week or have three or more employees. If you are hurt at work, in an accident, or because of injuries or sickness that occur over time, such as repetitive strains, workers’ comp covers the employee’s medical expenses and lost wages, rather than the employer themselves.
When to Hire a Workers’ Comp Attorney
Applying for workers’ compensation is designed so that you can navigate it easily without hiring a lawyer, and in straightforward cases, this is true. However, often workers’ comp claims are complicated by various factors, and in these instances, hiring an experienced workers’ compensation attorney to handle your case is your best chance for success.
Many workers live with long-term health conditions that do not affect their work. However, insurance companies try to find reasons not to compensate employees and work hard to prove that your injuries result from your pre-existing condition rather than your work environment.
Despite this, an attorney who is well-versed in workers’ compensation law will not only show that injuries are work-related, they may also be able to achieve compensation for pre-existing conditions that are worsened by work environments.
Denial of Workers’ Compensation Claim
There are a myriad of reasons why a workers’ compensation insurance company might deny an injured worker’s claim, including if you didn’t report the injury immediately, if no one saw it happen, or if you filed a claim after being let go by the company.
If your claim has been denied, you can appeal the decision, but this process is legally complex and requires you to present your case at a hearing. Most people don’t feel comfortable doing that without legal advice.
Low Settlement Offers
Sometimes insurance companies don’t out and out deny your compensation claim for a work-related injury. Instead, they make a low settlement offer or refuse to settle at all. A lawyer can advise you on when to accept an offer and when to push for more. They can also represent you in a disputed claim hearing.
Difficulty Getting Payment for Medical Treatment
Because insurance companies want to pay as little as possible, they deny or take a long time to approve expensive treatments or surgical procedures. This can be detrimental to the worker’s health and ruin them financially if they have to pay for treatment out of their pocket. An experienced attorney, however, can pressure the insurance company into approving necessary treatments.
Social Security Disability Insurance
By law, you can receive both Social Security Disability Insurance benefits (SSDI) and workers’ compensation as long as you qualify. However, your SSDI may be reduced if you receive workers’ comp. In total, your combined income from both benefits cannot be more than 80% of your previous income, but an attorney will fight to minimize your SSDI reductions.
Contested Disability Rating
If you have suffered long-term or permanent work-related physical injuries or sickness, you may be eligible for permanent workers’ compensation benefits. A permanent disability rating assigned by a doctor is used to determine how much you should receive.
However, it is common for insurance companies to dispute the rating given by your doctor and insist you have an independent medical examination conducted by a physician of their choosing. Inevitably this examination leads to a lower disability rating and consequently lower benefits. We highly recommend working with a lawyer who can prove that you should have a higher rating.
Filing a Lawsuit
Although in most situations, the existence of workers’ compensation means that employees cannot sue their employers for occupational injuries or illnesses, there are certain situations when this is not the case, namely if the injury was caused by egregious and intentional behavior on the part of the employer.
If your injuries were sustained at work but were the fault of a third party such as a member of the public, subcontractor, or equipment manufacturer, you can file a lawsuit. In these cases, working with a lawyer will significantly help your case.
While hiring a lawyer to assist you with your workers’ compensation claim is not a legal requirement, there are countless situations in which having an experienced attorney to advocate for you is necessary to get the compensation you are entitled to.
Contact A Lawyer Today
At Cochran, Kroll & Associates, P.C., we understand the stress involved in workers’ comp claims, especially while you deal with an injury or illness, and use our expertise to help you. Call our law firm today at 1-888-MICH LAW (1-888-642-4529) to schedule your free consultation and take your first step toward receiving your benefits.