Should a Person Always Have a Lawyer in a Workers’ Compensation Case?

by | Jan 20, 2016 | Lawyers

If a person has been injured on the job and they wonder whether it’s appropriate to hire a workers’ comp attorney, the answer to the question depends on the nature of the injury and the complexity of the case. In some cases, injured workers can represent themselves; however, most workers’ compensation cases require the assistance of an attorney. Here, the reader can learn when self-representation is the right choice and when it’s best to hire legal help.

When Self-Representation Is OK

As a rule, a person can handle their own workers’ compensation claim if any of the following has occurred.

  • The worker suffered a minor injury, such as a sprained ankle or a cut, that only required a couple of stitches.
  • Little to no work was missed because of the injury.
  • The employer admits that the person’s injury happened on the job.
  • The worker has no pre-existing conditions.

When It’s Best to Get Legal Help

When a case becomes too complex, it’s time to hire a workers’ compensation attorney. Clients should seek legal counsel if any of these situations apply to the case.

  • The employer fails to pay benefits promptly or denies the claim altogether. Workers’ comp insurers and employers often reject legitimate claims because they don’t count on workers to appeal. Hiring a lawyer requires no upfront payment and gives the client the best chance at a fair settlement offer.
  • The offer does not cover all of the client’s medical bills and lost income. Injured workers can’t rely on the judge to ensure that they’re being treated fairly. Though settlements must be approved by the judge, most sign off on all agreements as long as they’re not patently unfair. An attorney will work to get a fair offer for their client.
  • The client gets Social Security benefits. If the workers’ comp settlement is not properly structured, a large portion of the benefits may go to the SSA. A lawyer can put together a settlement agreement that minimizes offsets.

The workers’ comp system might have been set up to provide just compensation to injured workers, but it often works in the employer’s favor. The insurers have lawyers working for them, and injured workers should have legal counsel as well. Hiring a workers’ compensation attorney with can help to balance the scales of justice after a person is injured on the job.

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