Work injuries can happen at any time, even to the most careful employees. Thankfully, most businesses in Georgia are required to carry workers’ compensation insurance to cover medical costs, provide wage benefits, and more. But, after getting hurt at work, you might wonder if you should hire a lawyer for your workers’ compensation claim. Is it really worth it?
It is in your best interest to hire a workers’ compensation lawyer in many cases. There are several factors to consider, including how severe your injury is, the actions of your employer and their insurance company, and the specific details of your case. First, let’s look at some reasons why a workers’ compensation lawyer is your best option while filing a claim.
Workers’ Compensation Claims Aren’t the Same as Personal Injury Claims
You have to file a claim against the negligent party’s insurance company in personal injury claims. For workers’ compensation, things are different. Firstly, workers’ compensation settlements are no-fault, meaning that it doesn’t matter how your accident happened. So, if you get injured at work, you qualify to receive workers’ compensation benefits.
Secondly, workers’ compensation claims seldom go to court. The vast majority settle out of court, if not all of them. The workers’ compensation claim process was specifically designed to keep injured employees out of court and resolve issues as fast as possible. Because of this, if your claim repeatedly gets denied or runs into hiccups, it can be difficult to find assistance.
So, while hiring a lawyer isn’t mandatory, if you’re having trouble getting a fair settlement, you should get professional legal assistance. Hiring an experienced workers’ compensation lawyer can drastically increase your chances of getting the insurance company or your employer to understand your situation and win the settlement you deserve.
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Six Reasons You Should Hire a Lawyer for a Workers’ Compensation Claim
Although there are certain situations where you may be okay without a lawyer, those are the exceptions. Most injured workers have a far better outcome with an experienced attorney on their side. Here are some examples of reasons you should get a trusted lawyer on the phone as soon as possible after your injury.
Your Claim Is Denied or Not Taken Seriously
It’s more common than you would think for employers, and their insurance companies, to deny workers’ compensation claims in the hope that their employees won’t fight it. But, unfortunately, many workers are afraid to appeal a rejection or are not sure how to do so correctly. This is extremely unfortunate, as hiring a workers’ compensation lawyer makes all the difference.
You Feel Pressure to Return to Work Too Early
If you feel as if the doctor you see is trying to say you’re cleared for work when you know you still need to heal, or you feel pressure from the insurer to return too early, you should definitely contact a lawyer. You have the right to benefits while still not well enough to work.
Under a workers’ compensation policy, you are required to choose from a list of at least six doctors provided by your employer under the Official Code of Georgia Annotated (OCGA) § 34-9-201.
If you see a physician outside of this list, workers’ compensation probably won’t cover your costs. The downside to this is that the insurance company may use it to limit your medical care.
You Can No Longer Work As You Could Before
If a work injury prevents you from working for at least seven days, you are entitled to weekly wage benefits OCGA § 34-9-220. These are paid at two-thirds the average weekly wage you were earning before your injury.
Once you can return to work, your injury may still limit your ability to perform certain types of work. In other cases, your injury may disable you from working at all. Whether totally or partially disabled, you are entitled to income benefits through workers’ compensation. However, insurance companies often try to avoid paying these types of benefits because they are costly.
A workers’ compensation lawyer can help protect you from greedy insurance companies looking for ways to deny your full benefits. It does not matter how costly they become, you have the right to receive the benefits you are entitled to under Georgia workers’ compensation laws.
Your Employer Tries to Fire You
Some employers will look for ways to retaliate against an employee after filing a workers’ compensation claim. Although you are under “at-will” employment in the United States, your employer still cannot hire you or cut your hours simply because you filed a claim.
Therefore, you should reach out to an experienced workers’ compensation lawyer right away to protect your rights.
A Third Party or Misconduct Was Involved in Your Injury
If your work injury happened because of an accident involving a third party, you may need to take legal action against that person.
You may have a personal injury case on your hands in addition to the workers’ compensation claim, and that often requires the expertise of a lawyer. Unlike workers’ compensation, you can seek damages for what the other party caused in a personal injury claim.
You may also have grounds for legal action against your employer if they exercised severe misconduct in connection with your accident. Contact a workers’ compensation lawyer to discuss the details and your options.
The Insurance Company Tries to Limit Your Benefits
Insurance companies like to pay as little as possible on insurance claims. Therefore, they often look for ways to limit or end your benefits as soon as possible. For this reason alone, it’s good to have a workers’ compensation lawyer on your side. They can make sure your rights get upheld throughout the entire process.
Social Security Can Complicate Your Case
If you are in a situation where you know you’ll need to file for Social Security disability benefits, you will want a workers’ compensation lawyer. Your workers’ compensation can lower the amount of income you get from Social Security.
There are ways to get around that with the help of our lawyers. We can structure your settlement agreement to minimize the impact of your workers’ compensation award on your SSD benefits.
Workers’ Compensation and Pre-Existing Conditions
Another situation where you’ll need the help of a lawyer is if you’re injured in a location where there is already a pre-existing condition. The insurance company will work hard to say that your injuries were caused by that and not your workplace, especially if it’s a repetitive stress injury.
For instance, if you’ve broken your wrist in the past and then get pain from carpal tunnel syndrome later, the insurance company may try to blame your pain on the previous break. Hiring an attorney to help you prove a pre-existing condition was not the cause of your injury is wise.
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Having a Georgia Workers’ Compensation Lawyer Levels the Playing Field
It’s also good to remember that the insurance company has its own team of experienced workers’ compensation defense lawyers working on your claim. They will have experts at the ready, so why shouldn’t you?
So many injured workers find peace of mind after they hire a workers’ compensation lawyer. Having a compassionate legal professional with your best interests in mind, is more than worth it.
Situations Where You May Represent Yourself
Although a workers’ compensation lawyer is almost always worth it after filing your claim, you may be able to get by without help if you:
- Have a cooperative employer and fully admits your injury occurred at work
- Had very minor injuries
- Did not have to miss any work or miss very little because of your injury
- Do not have a pre-existing condition involving the same area that was hurt in your work-related accident
Even in these situations, you might consult with a Georgia workers’ compensation lawyer before proceeding on your own. Once you accept a settlement or close your case, there is little to no chance of receiving anything else. Your claim is often worth a lot more than you initially realize.
The Best Time to Hire a Workers’ Compensation Lawyer Is Now
When it comes to workers’ compensation claims, you don’t have a lot of time to get your affairs to negotiate a settlement. More often than not, workers’ compensation claims have an extremely short deadline compared to the statute of limitations for regular personal injury claims.
The insurance company will assume that your injuries aren’t as serious as you claim them to be by waiting too long. Don’t put yourself in an uphill battle for your settlement. After seeking medical treatment, please reach out to one of our workers’ compensation lawyers to assist you immediately.
Talk to a Georgia Workers’ Compensation Lawyer for Free Today
If you’re unsure whether or not you should hire a lawyer for a workers’ compensation claim, you can start with a consultation. Most workers’ compensation lawyers offer the consultation completely free of charge, so you can discuss the details without worrying about any fees or commitments. At John Foy & Associates, that’s how we have been operating for over 20 years.
Our experienced and compassionate Georgia workers’ compensation lawyers do not take a single fee upfront, so there is no risk to working with us. So, give us a call today for your free consultation, and we’ll talk about your options. Call us or contact us online to get started.