Picture this: you have to move a stack of boxes at work and halfway through lifting one, you experience a shooting pain through your shoulder and neck. Regardless of whether it is a pulled muscle or a slip disc, the fact remains that you’re going to require medical assistance. This means you’re about to dive into the world of workers’ compensation. Who do you call? The answer is simple: Get yourself an Atlanta workers compensation lawyer.
The first call people make is usually to a workers’ compensation lawyer. But when is the right time to lawyer up and when should you just take a step back? This article will give you the answers.
Signs That it’s Time for You to Get a Workers Comp Lawyer
The manner in which your company, or more importantly, its insurance carrier, deals with your case will determine whether it is best for you to get a lawyer. Below are 10 signs you need an Atlanta workers compensation lawyer on your case:
1. Your Employer or their Insurance Provider Denies it Happened at Work
This is often the case when a minor injury happens at work and remains unreported. That injury, that is overlooked, worsens at work to the point that the employer/insurance provider says that the original injury didn’t occur at work. This also happens when the long-term effects of exposure to something at work leads to a disease.
2. Your Employer Delays Your Claim
If you’re injured at work, the first thing you should do is notify your employer and begin the reporting process. The company must provide you with the necessary paperwork, escalate your case to the state workers compensation board and file a claim with its insurance provider. Reporting regulations and deadlines may vary depending on the state you’re in, but it should take no longer than 30 days to complete this process.
3. If You Have Permanent Disability, Partial or Total, Preventing You from Fully Returning to Work
Insurance companies are highly likely to challenge such claims because they can be quite expensive.
4. Your Doctor Recommends Treatment and the Insurance Won’t Pay for It
This is also a common practice when an injured worker’s recovery translates to rehabilitation visits which an insurance company doesn’t think are necessary.
5. If the Insurance Provider Denies Your Claim
If you appeal that decision (and you believe your claim is legitimate), then things can get complicated and you will need the help of an expert. If it starts getting contentious, and if there is disagreement, then it’s time to lawyer up!
6. If the Settlement Offer Doesn’t Include all Lost Wages and Medical Bills
Most worker compensation settlements are meant for disability benefits based on a rating system decided on by examining doctors. If the insurance company disagrees with the rating, it can request for you to get an independent medical exam (IME) by a doctor of its choice. It’s highly likely that that doctor will give you a lower rating than what you feel you deserve. Your lawyer will be able to convince a judge you deserve a higher rating.
7. You Have a Pre-existing Condition
If you already had problems with your neck or back prior to lifting that heavy box, it’s highly likely the insurance company will blame your new pain on that. You’ll need evidence to prove otherwise.
8. You’re Planning to File for Social Security Disability Benefits
These benefits, also called SSDI, may be reduced by workers compensation benefits. Having a lawyer can help you prepare your settlement to minimize or remove the offset.
9. Your Employer Fights Back Against You
If you are fired, demoted, or have your hours reduced or are forced to return to work immediately, get a lawyer to argue against the unwarranted penalties.
10. If You Have a Third-party Claim
You can go beyond the workers compensation system and file a workers’ comp lawsuit if another party other than your employer played a role in your injury. For instance, a negligent driver hits you while you were on the way to work or a faulty machine caused your injury at work, then you can file the said parties for damages.
Should You Hire A Lawyer for Workers’ Compensation?
Hiring an Atlanta workers compensation lawyer for a comp claim is a question every injured worker asks. The truth is, in most situations injuries such as an injured ankle, sore back, or cut on the arm can be easily treated and won’t require more than the usual first-aid kit, a couple of aspirins, and some rest.
But if your work injury is serious and things get heated between you and your employer or their insurance provider handling the case, your best choice is to talk to a workers’ compensation lawyer. A twisted knee or sprained back might not seem like a big deal at first, but they can worsen quickly and before you know it, you’ll need knee or back surgery.
There’s no need to hire a lawyer every time you have a claim. But you should at least call one and consult on how the process works and what benefits you’re entitled to.
The important thing to remember is that you must not automatically assume your case is going to turn into a legal battle.
Too many claimants hire a lawyer the day after the accident –rookie mistake! On the other hand, if you’re concerned about ‘rocking the boat’ or the costs of hiring a lawyer, not calling one could be a bad idea. You might end up being on the losing end.
The general perception of the public is that they cannot afford a lawyer or filing a claim will cause unnecessary delays or the lawyer will take too much of their settlement money. Whether the case settles for $100,000 with a lawyer or $10,000 without, there’s no question.
When Should You Hire a Workers Compensation Lawyer?
As soon as you decide to challenge the settlement decision, then it’s time for you to get the help of an Atlanta workers compensation lawyer.
Once you challenge the decision, workers compensation can quickly turn into a legal battle full of paperwork, depositions, deadlines, and evidence collection. You’ll easily get lost if you do it all by yourself and you don’t know what you’re doing.