Workers Compensation

I’ve been hurt on my job. Do I need a lawyer?

You’ve been hurt on your job. Who will pay the medical bills? How will you support your family if you can’t work? Do you need a lawyer? Coworkers, friends and family members offer conflicting advice. What should you do? Here are some guidelines to help you decide

1. Severity of the Injury: A minor injury with routine medical treatment and little-or-no lost time usually can be handled without a lawyer. But, for a severe injury – or one that keeps you out of work for a period of time – you are more likely to get the proper medical care and compensation if you are represented by a lawyer.

2. Employer Cooperation: If your employer seems to be angry at you for getting hurt, refuses to send you to a doctor, or won’t report your injury to their insurance carrier, this can cause problems and delays and may even cause your claim to be denied. If you have a non-cooperative employer it is a good idea to consult a lawyer.

3. Referral to a Specialist: Referral to a specialist, such as an orthopedic surgeon or neurosurgeon, generally means your injury is severe enough that you would benefit from retaining a lawyer.
4. Denial of Medical Treatment: If your employer won’t send you to the doctor when you get hurt, or the insurance company refuses to authorize treatment, such as a referral to a specialist, diagnostic testing such as an MRI, physical therapy, a pain clinic or a second opinion, you should talk to a lawyer about helping you get the treatment you need.
5. Refusal to Pay Weekly Benefits: If you are unable to work and are not getting weekly benefits, you should consult a lawyer.

Important tip: Always get your work status in writing from the doctor and keep a copy for your records!

6. Getting a Fair Settlement: Consult a lawyer before you settle your case to learn your options, determine if you are being treated fairly and discuss the benefits of representation. A lawyer may be helpful to those who do not settle, and thus can help you get the evidence you need for the best outcome in your case.
7. Loss of Earning Capacity or Permanent and Total Disability: If your work injury leaves you unable to work or earn what you earned before you were injured, the complicated and confusing issues in such cases are best handled by a lawyer. You should also consult an attorney if you receive or have applied for other types of disability benefits.
8. Permanent Disability, Restrictions, or Inability to Return to Previous Employment: If you have a permanent problem as a result of your injury, permanent restrictions or, if you are unable to return to the type of work you usually do, a lawyer will help you secure fair compensation.
9. Denied Case: If your claim is denied by your employer or their insurance carrier, you will most likely need a lawyer to help you prove you case. Some denied cases involve legal issues best handled by an attorney.
10. Injury Caused by Third Party or Defective Machine: If you have been hurt on the job by someone who does not work for your employer you may be able to bring a separate lawsuit in addition to your worker’s compensation claim. When you may have both a worker’s compensation claim and a third party claim you should consult an attorney.

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