WORKERS COMPENSATION ATTORNEY: What Do They Do, Why & When Should You Hire One

Workers compensation attorney
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Accidents at work are fairly common, and if you find that you have a workers’ compensation claim, it’s important to understand the role of an attorney and when to hire one to help you with your claims. So, as a worker at the Federal or State level, how can a workers’ compensation attorney help you? Read on.

Who is a Workers’ Compensation Attorney?

A workers’ compensation attorney is one who helps workers who are injured on the job to claim compensation for these injuries. Such compensation can include medical bills and lost wages.  

Available Benefits For Workers

Workers’ compensation laws allow employees who are injured on the job to receive a variety of benefits, depending on the severity of the injury. They may include the following:

  • Benefits for total and permanent disability
  • Benefits for permanent partial disability
  • Temporary partial disability benefits
  • Medical benefits
  • Wage reimbursement benefits
  • Vocational rehabilitation benefits

Overall Responsibilities of a Workers’ Compensation Attorney

The ultimate goal of a workers’ compensation attorney ultimate goal in representing the claimant is to assist that individual in obtaining benefits.

The purpose of the workers’ compensation attorney defending the defendant, which is the employer or the employer’s insurance company, is to reduce the defendant’s obligation.

A workers’ compensation attorney’s typical job duties include:

  • Obtaining medical proof and records
  • Taking the claimant’s, physicians, medical experts, and other parties’ depositions
  • Performing research
  • Conducting legal research
  • Keeping abreast with legal developments
  • Creating pleadings, fact findings, motions, briefs, opinions, and other legal documents

Specific Claimant Attorney Responsibilities

Workers’ compensation attorneys on the claimant side must understand the claims filing process and have compassion for the injured party’s condition. Typically, an attorney defending the claimant will:

  • Respond to clients’ queries and walk them through the workers’ compensation process.
  • Make contact with medical providers and finish claim documentation.
  • Rep the claimant’s interests at hearings, trials, depositions, oral arguments, mediations, arbitrations, and other actions.
  • Assist the injured worker with benefits, such as medical treatment.
  • Inform the wounded worker’s bosses of his or her condition.
  • Negotiate settlements on the claimant’s behalf.

A top-tier claimant’s attorney should be able to negotiate effectively based on an accurate appraisal of what the case is truly worth—no pipe dreams or overblown figures.

When a “final offer” isn’t quite final, the attorney will be able to tell.

Defense Attorney Responsibilities

On the defense side, attorneys assist insurance companies and self-insured businesses in mitigating their risk and defending against workers’ compensation claims.

They must be able to budget expenditures and calculate risk while also understanding the claims-handling procedures for each business unit with which they operate. They must be familiar with billing procedures. On the defense side, attorneys will:

  • Represent the employer or insurer’s interests in hearings, trials, depositions, oral arguments, mediations, arbitrations, and other actions.
  • Contact the claims representatives.
  • Monitor loss run reports for patterns and increases, and notify management if there are any issues.
  • Assist with the accident and problem-solving investigations.
  • Manage the costs of workers’ compensation.
  • Compile and send required reports to firm management.
  • Coordination and attendance at claims reviews
  • Negotiate settlements on the insurance company’s behalf.

Knowledge and Abilities of The Workers’ Compensation Attorney

In addition to these necessary legal skills, other abilities and knowledge are required to flourish as a workers’ compensation attorney. They are as follows:

  • Litigation experience as well as extensive trial experience
  • Knowledge of workers’ compensation legislation and processes is required.
  • Outstanding oral and written communication abilities
  • Excellent research and analytical abilities
  • The ability to manage a large caseload while juggling multiple priorities and deadlines
  • Excellent negotiating abilities
  • Ability to operate both alone and in a collaborative context
  • Strong technological abilities, including knowledge of Microsoft Office applications and legal research sites like Lexis and Westlaw.
  • Understanding of the medical, scientific, construction, goods, engineering, and other concerns that arise in workers’ compensation claims

Do You Need a Workers’ Compensation Attorney?

Certain events and periods of time during the claims process will necessitate close communication with your workers’ compensation attorney.

It can be an overwhelming procedure to go through alone, from negotiating with insurers to ensuring you get the most workers’ compensation benefits you’re entitled to.

The following are two common situations in which you will need an attorney to represent you.

#1. When You Have to Bargain With Insurers

If and when insurers deny your claim, you will almost certainly need to stay in frequent contact with your attorney. It makes no difference whether your employer’s workers’ compensation insurance is state-sponsored or privately funded. Both types of businesses are under the same amount of financial strain.

Workers’ compensation insurance businesses make money by taking premiums but not paying out claims. As a result, you should expect any type of insurer to oppose your claim, either by attempting to reduce its value or by denying it entirely.

The opposition of an insurance company does not have to be the last word. After all, you can try to achieve a compromise and release (C&R) agreement, which is a workers’ compensation claim settlement.

The issue for you is that the insurance company’s lawyers are adept at minimizing workers’ compensation claims and pressuring you to settle for less than you need to pay lost wages and/or outstanding medical bills.

To secure a fair payout, you must have someone on your side who is as skilled at negotiating and navigating the workers’ compensation system.

#2. During a Workers’ Compensation Hearing

Hearings for workers’ compensation may not always be required. However, if the insurance company refuses to pay or just offers a low amount, you will need to support your claim and prove your case through a workers’ compensation hearing.

Again, a good negotiator will be required in this case. Unless you are well-versed in workers’ compensation legislation and your rights as an injured worker, it is advisable to consult with someone who is well-versed in Pennsylvania’s court system if and when your claim requires a hearing.

When You Most Likely Do Not Require the Services of a Lawyer

Before you contact a workers’ compensation legal company, keep in mind that there may be a few instances where formal representation by an attorney is not required.

For example, you generally don’t need a workers’ compensation lawyer to assist you in your claim if:

  • You only had a minor injury with no complications.
  • You did not miss any work, or you were simply absent for a few hours or one day.
  • Your employer is aware of the incident and that it occurred at work.
  • You have no pre-exsting ailment that could jeopardize your claim.

In most circumstances, though, getting a free case evaluation is still worthwhile. The free legal advice you receive could be extremely beneficial to your workers’ compensation case.

Education Requirements for a Workers’ Compensation Attorney

Workers’ compensation attorneys, like all lawyers in the United States, must receive an undergraduate degree, four years of law school, and a license by passing the bar test in the state where they wish to practice.

Compensation for Workers’ Compensation Attorneys

Claimant attorneys almost never charge an hourly fee. It is more common for them to work on a contingency basis, receiving a portion of any reward received for a claimant, ranging from 10% to 33%. Some states have a percentage cap.

Insurance firms and employers are more likely to hire or retain defense counsel.

Working Conditions

Workers’ compensation attorneys typically work in an office setting, either in a law firm or in a company legal department. Travel to hearings, arbitrations, depositions, and job sites may be required on a regular basis. Traveling to hearings and depositions in faraway areas, as well as preparing for hearings, can need long hours.

Because of FECA, or the Federal Employees’ Compensation Act, injured federal workers can seek redress in the form of compensation for their injuries. This provides various forms of compensation that can be pooled and used to cover medical bills, living expenses, home-based care, and vocational rehabilitation. Injured government workers range from USPS employees to those engaged in research and medicine, as well as police enforcement and first responders.

All claims are received, approved, or rejected by the Office of Workers’ Compensation Program (OWCP). Claims Examiners categorize all submissions and assign them to different categories based on the amount of compensation sought by the claimant. The Division of Federal Employees’ Compensation (DFEC) grants OWCP these authorities. DFEC administers compensation for injured federal workers, those wishing to retire due to a permanent or catastrophic injury, and people who have experienced an occupational injury.

Workers’ Compensation Laws

Workers’ compensation laws are governed by state statutes as well as federal ones. Both provide fixed payouts to employees or their dependents in the event of work-related injuries or illnesses.

These statutorily mandated awards allow an injured worker to collect compensation without having to file a lawsuit against an employer. The several state acts differ in terms of the types of workers covered, the quantity and length of benefits, and other factors.

The Federal Employees Compensation Act, the Jones Act for sailors, and the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act for longshore and harbor workers all apply to federal employees.

Most workers’ compensation laws have the effect of holding the employer strictly accountable for injuries received on the job, regardless of whether the employer or the employee was negligent. To be valid, the harm must occur in the course and scope of employment, and there must be an employee-employer relationship.

Most workers’ compensation regulations do not include independent contractors.

When You Should Hire a Workers’ Compensation Attorney

The optimum time to hire a workers’ compensation attorney is just after you’ve been injured. An expert attorney will be able to guide you through the often-complicated process of obtaining the assistance and disability benefits you require.

You should get medical attention as soon as feasible before proceeding with your workers’ compensation claim. It is strongly advised that you do so, even if your job injury is mild. This is because continuing to work may aggravate your condition, putting you at risk of further injury..

You Must Inform Your Employer of Your Injury

When you seek medical attention, this is an excellent time to notify your employer of your injury. Keep in mind that the statute of limitations requires you to do so within 120 days.

Following that, you have up to three years to file a workers’ compensation claim. Failure to file within this time frame may result in the loss of your claim. However, it is critical that you assess whether you need a workers’ compensation attorney well before the statute of limitations passes.

When to Contact a Workers’ Compensation Attorney for a Free Case Evaluation

There is no precise point after a workplace injury that indicates when you need a workers’ compensation lawyer.

However, you should contact a lawyer immediately following your personal injury to assess your best course of action. An initial case examination will help you select when to hire a workers’ compensation lawyer and whether you should wait or even decline.

The only way to determine when to employ a workers’ compensation lawyer is to have one review your claim.

Conclusion

When deciding when to employ a workers’ compensation attorney, there are numerous factors to consider. It can be daunting for anyone to juggle medical costs and understand the timeframe that affects when workers’ compensation payments begin paying. This is especially true if you are injured as a result of a workplace injury or face a protracted recuperation.

To ensure you receive the assistance and benefits you require, contact one of our expert workers’ compensation attorneys for a free initial case examination.

Workers Compensation Attorney FAQs

How long do most workers comp settlements take?

Most workers comp settlements take 12-18 months depending on the details of your case.

What percentage do most injury lawyers take?

Most injury lawyers take 33% of the final settlement amount in their case.

How long does it take to negotiate a settlement?

Average settlements take 1-3 months. Some can take much longer to resolve

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