Every year more than 2.7 million nonfatal work injuries occur across America. If you are involved in one of these then you may have to take time off work, cover expensive medical bills, and process emotional trauma. Some injuries may also result in long-term chronic conditions that you have to live with.
While money will not be able to solve all of these problems, compensation is available to help with this. Workers’ compensation insurance is a legal requirement for all employers across America. Claiming for this can provide valuable financial support while you recover.
However, if you want to make a successful claim it is a good idea to get support from an experienced workers’ comp lawyer
So what do workers’ comp lawyers do and when should you hire one? Read on to find out why it is important to seek legal help with your workers’ comp case.
What is Workers' Comp?
Workers’ compensation is a type of insurance that every employer in America must provide. Your employer pays a premium every month to provide this.
If an employee is involved in a workplace accident this insurance can provide financial support for:
- Medical bills
- Loss of wages
- Rehabilitation and treatment costs
This insurance will also cover work-related illnesses. For example, someone may become ill after being exposed to a dangerous working environment. Or they might suffer a repetitive strain injury due to poor ergonomics in their office.
Workers’ compensation can also provide death benefits for the families of people killed in workplace accidents. If your injury resulted in a disability then workers’ compensation can provide additional support for this.
Any employee with a work-related injury or illness can make a claim. You need to notify your employer that you are going to make this claim and they will have to fill out paperwork to support it.
Workers’ comp insurance helps to protect employees across America in two ways.
It provides financial support so that employees can take the time to recover from injuries or illnesses properly. It also encourages employers to provide proper safety regulations in their working environments. After all, the fewer claims an employer has to make on their insurance, the better their insurance premiums will be!
When Can You Claim Workers' Comp?
You can make a claim for workers’ compensation if you have:
- Been injured in a workplace accident
- Have an illness that has been caused by your working environment
- Lost a loved one to a work-related accident or illness
- A long-term disability caused by a work-related accident or illness
Some of the most common workplace injuries include slips and falls, burns, and repetitive strain injuries. Car crash injuries are common for people who work in construction and delivery companies.
The amount that you can claim depends on the severity of your injuries. Most insurance companies will review your injuries or illness and make a settlement based on:
- How severe your injury or illness has been
- How long your recovery has taken
- Whether or not you had to take time off work to recover
- Any medical expenses accrued during your injury or illness
- Whether your injury has long-term implications for your health
- Emotional trauma caused by your injury or illness
In order to make a claim, you also need to prove that you were not responsible for your accident. For example, your injury or illness may have been caused by an unpreventable accident. This might have involved malfunctioning machinery or a lack of health and safety equipment.
You may not be able to make a claim if an insurer can prove that you caused an injury. For example, they might claim that you behaved recklessly or failed to use the proper safety equipment. So it is worth keeping this in mind before you make a claim.
What Should You Do After a Workplace Accident or Illness?
If you have been involved in a workplace accident then there are several things you should do. These will help you to make your claim and ensure that you recover as quickly and successfully as possible.
Seek Medical Attention
Even if you feel okay after a workplace accident or illness it is a good idea to get checked over by a medical professional. They will assess you and recommend any treatments that you need and refer you for aftercare.
Your doctor will also write up a report detailing your injuries or illness and any treatment you require. This will be an essential piece of evidence for your workers’ comp claim.
Report Your Accident
You should always report an accident or work-related illness as soon as possible. Ideally, you should do this in writing and make sure that your manager records this.
Get Support From Loved Ones
If you are unwell or recovering from an injury then it is important to seek support from the people around you.
Asking your loved ones to help you with daily tasks, such as collecting your groceries, means that you can save your energy for your recovery. They can also provide valuable emotional support while you get better.
What Do Workers' Comp Lawyers Do?
Your loved ones are not the only people that you can turn to for support after an accident. If you are planning to make a claim for workers’ compensation it is also a good idea to speak to an experienced lawyer.
These lawyers specialize in making workers’ compensation claims on behalf of their clients. They can help with:
- Filing your claim with your employer and the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission
- Calculating how much to claim for and negotiating a settlement
- Finding evidence to support your case
- Representing your interests in meetings and if your case goes to trial
Their job is to fight for the best possible compensation deal on your behalf. This requires specialist legal knowledge and experience if your case is going to be successful.
Of course, there’s nothing to stop you from making a claim without hiring a workers’ comp attorney. So why do you need to hire a workers’ compensation attorney to help with your case? Let’s take a closer look at the benefits of getting professional support with your work injury claim.
They Will Help You Apply for Compensation
If you would like to apply for workers’ compensation after an accident this is not as simple as asking your boss.
You have to put in a formal request for this within 45 days of your accident. Ideally, you should do this in writing and maintain a record of your request.
If you cannot work for three days or more due to your injury then your employer also needs to:
- Submit an accident report to the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission
- Pay temporary total disability (TTD) benefits to cover your loss of earnings
- Give a written statement explaining their reasons if they choose to deny TTD benefits
To start a claim, you also need to file a compensation claim form with the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission. You must make this claim within three years of your accident or within two years of your TTD benefits stopping.
Of course, in the wake of your accident, you may not be able to get all of this done. In that case, it can help to have a lawyer acting on your behalf.
They will ensure that they meet the deadlines for making a claim through your employer. They will also make sure that you get your disability benefits as soon as possible. And they can dispute unreasonable grounds for denying disability benefit claims.
Workers' Comp Lawyers Can Recommend How to Proceed With Your Case
There is a lot to think about once you have decided to make a workers’ comp insurance claim. For example, you need to decide how much compensation you want to claim.
An experienced lawyer will be able to review all of the details of your case. They will then use this to recommend how much compensation to claim and what you need to emphasize in your claim. Their recommendations will be based on their detailed understanding of workers’ comp cases and make the most of their specialist legal experience.
Even if you do not hire a lawyer to represent you in your claim it is still a good idea to seek out their advice before making a claim.
This ensures that you don’t miss out on compensation that you’re entitled to. A lawyer will also be able to make you aware of any other injury or illness-related lawsuits that you could make following your accident.
They Have the Resources to Support Your Case
If you want to make a successful workers’ comp claim then you will need to build a strong case to support this. This includes compiling evidence about your accident, injuries, or illness.
This evidence might include:
- Medical reports about your injuries or illness and their prescribed treatment
- Doctors notes signing you off work
- Photographs of your injuries
- Eye witness accounts or CCTV footage of your accident
- Records of your accident or illness in your workplace log
- Character witness accounts of how an injury or illness has affected your life
- Medical bills for your treatment
- Receipts for equipment you have needed as a result of your injuries or illness
- Financial records to show a loss of earnings
Collectively, this evidence builds a picture of how your injuries or illness have impacted your life. This will all affect how much you can claim in workers’ compensation.
However, collecting all of this evidence requires a lot of time. While you are recovering you may not have a lot of this to spare and this is where workers’ comp lawyers can help.
Lawyers have teams of brilliant staff to help them collect evidence quickly and build strong cases. For example, they will ensure that you get seen by an approved workers’ comp doctor so that your medical reports are accepted.
This all means that your case stands the best possible chance of success.
Your Lawyer Can Negotiate on Your Behalf
When you apply for workers’ compensation you will usually be asked to note the amount that you would like to claim. However, this does not always mean that an insurer will pay out the amount you ask for.
Instead, you may have to negotiate on the settlement until you reach an amount that you and the insurer can agree on. The stronger your case, the less room your insurer will have to negotiate.
Workers’ comp lawyers are experts at negotiating settlements. They will do everything in their power to fight for your claim and can back their arguments up with detailed legal knowledge. So if you are heading into negotiations it is a very good idea to have a workers’ comp attorney on your side.
They Can Provide Specialist Support for Specific Claims
A lot of workplace injuries are easy to explain. You may have been involved in a machinery accident or strained your body while working at a desk.
However, some injuries require a specialist approach. This is because they are linked to widespread workplace issues, such as the use of dangerous chemicals. Your lawyer will be able to explain all of the claims that you can make and who to make them against.
For example, if you are an agricultural worker then your injuries may have been caused by exposure to Paraquat. This chemical is particularly known to increase the chances of a person developing Parkinson’s. If you have been affected, you can make a workers’ compensation claim and file a lawsuit against Syngenta.
Your legal team will be able to support both of the claims that you want to make so you get the maximum amount of compensation.
Insurance Companies Are More Reasonable When Lawyers Are Involved
Workers’ compensation insurance companies pay out more than $62 billion worth of damages each year. This can cover lost wages, medical bills, and the emotional impact of an accident.
However, not everyone who makes an insurance claim will be successful. In fact, insurance companies are experts at avoiding paying out claims when they want to. This is because they draw up the insurance contracts and have detailed knowledge of any loopholes in them.
Hiring a lawyer shows insurers that you are serious about making a successful claim. It also means that they have to deal with people who know what they’re talking about.
Because of this, they are more likely to offer you a fair settlement the first time around. They will also push back against your claim far less if you have a lawyer on your side.
Lawyers Can Help You Appeal Denied Claims
Not every workers’ compensation claim will be successful. Your insurance adjuster may deny a claim if:
- You miss the deadline for making a claim
- You try to file a claim after leaving your job
- They do not believe that your injury or illness was work-related
- They claim that your injuries or illness do not meet the state guidelines for workers’ compensation
If your claim is denied by an insurer though this is not the end of the road. It is always worth taking a close look at why your claim has been denied. Their reason for denying your claim should always be included in your rejection letter.
An insurer may, for example, also deny a claim due to missing paperwork. In that case, you may be able to resolve the issue by sending this paperwork in.
You can also appeal denied workers’ comp claims if you feel that yours has been unfairly rejected. If you are planning to do this then you should definitely speak to a workers’ compensation lawyer. Appealed cases are reviewed at a hearing so you will need representation for this, which leads us to our next point!
Your Lawyer Will Represent You in Court
The majority of workers’ compensation claims are either settled out of court or rejected. However, some cases will need to be reviewed in a hearing. This can happen if you want to appeal a denied claim or if you cannot agree on a settlement.
At a hearing, your case will be presented to an administrative law judge. This includes:
- Detailing the extent of your injuries or illnesses
- Presenting evidence to demonstrate that they were work-related
- Explaining how they have impacted your life (and supporting this with evidence)
- Outlining the amount of compensation that you have asked for and how you calculated this figure
Your insurer will also have the opportunity to explain their reasons for denying or offering a lower settlement. They may provide evidence to counter yours.
The presiding judge will listen to both sides and review the evidence in order to pass a judgment on your case. They will have the final say on your claim.
You can represent yourself during a workers’ comp trial but it is a good idea to get support from an expert. They will build a strong case on your behalf.
You will also be going up against workers’ comp insurance experts. Unless you have detailed knowledge of this legal area, it is a good idea to get support from an experienced lawyer.
Your Lawyers Will Let You Focus on Your Recovery
If you are making a workers’ compensation claim then you are probably still having to deal with the consequences of your injuries or illness.
This might be a physical or emotional recovery or you may be trying to recoup financial losses caused by your injuries. Some illnesses or injuries can also lead to chronic health conditions that you have to manage for the rest of your life.
Managing all of this requires a lot of time and energy. This may simply mean that you don’t have the time to organize a workers’ compensation claim. Or trying to put one together could put a lot of extra strain on you during this difficult time.
Getting support from lawyers means that you can focus on recovering from your injuries or illness. Thanks to their experience in handling workers’ comp cases, your lawyer will be sensitive and supportive during this time. They will take care of the practical side of things so that you can put your energy into getting back on your feet.
Tips for Finding a Great Workers' Comp Lawyer
If you are planning to hire a workers’ comp lawyer you need to know what to look for. Doing some digging and asking the right questions will ensure that you get support from a great team.
You should always:
- Look for lawyers with plenty of experience handling workers’ comp cases
- Look for lawyers who have been independently recognized or received awards for their work
- Ask about their success rates in previous cases
- Find out if they have experience in taking cases to trial
- Ask about their communication preferences and choose a lawyer who communicates well
- Ask about the size of their team and their resources
- Check out testimonials from previous clients
- Choose someone that you feel comfortable working with
This will ensure that you find a lawyer who is easy to work with and gets great results. So keep these tips in mind before you hire a lawyer.
Get Help From a Workers' Comp Lawyer Today
What do workers’ comp lawyers do? Well, the short answer is a lot!
They will help you put together a case and negotiate a fair settlement on your behalf. So you can focus on your recovery knowing that financial support is on its way.
If you are planning on making a workers’ comp claim you should get support from a workers’ comp lawyer as soon as possible. Get in touch today to find out how Prime Law Group LLC can help with your claim.