Beyond the Basics: What Does a Workers Comp Attorney Do?
Across a range of industries, thousands of American workers expose themselves to potential risks and dangers from the moment they walk in the door. From nurses battling on the frontlines of a pandemic to railway workers balancing on high scaffolding, to factory personnel operating temperamental 8,000-pound machines, dangers lurk around every turn. Despite ever-stricter safety protocols over the last century, workplace injuries can and do happen frequently, leading to countless tragic injuries, lifelong disabilities, and untimely deaths each year.
If you've been injured at work, it can be incredibly daunting to pursue workers’ compensation, especially while dealing with a sudden, painful change in circumstances. Many victims of work accidents are gripped with fear of retaliation or job loss, worsening the pain and stress of their injuries. Worse, profit-motivated insurance companies can try to deny or reduce your workers’ comp settlement, citing any number of manufactured reasons to harm your claim and save money. At this critical stage, hiring a workers’ comp attorney can make a significant difference in your future.
What is Workers Comp, Exactly?
Workers' compensation is a form of insurance designed to provide wage replacement and medical benefits to workers injured while on the job - regardless of fault. It serves as a protective measure, eliminating the need for litigation against employers by providing necessary financial support to the injured party. The workers' compensation system has a rich history. Originating in Europe in the late 19th century, it aimed to protect workers from the financial hardships associated with work-related injuries and illnesses. Over time, it made its way to the United States and became a staple of the American labor law system - improving the safety, well-being, and quality of life of workers and their families across the nation.
Today, workers' compensation is more crucial than ever. In an increasingly complex and hazardous working world, it continues to serve as a safety net, protecting employees and providing peace of mind to countless families. Unfortunately, employer retaliation and insurance company red tape have made the workers' compensation claim process complex for countless injured workers - underscoring the vital need for expert legal representation.
Injuries and Illnesses Covered by Workers' Comp:
While there are many injuries and illnesses that are obtained at work that qualify for workers’ compensation, some workplace injuries and illnesses are more common than others. These include:
Repetitive stress injuries
Slip and fall accidents
Broken bones and fractures
Burns and other thermal accidents
Loss of limb or amputation
Eye injuries and hearing loss
Mental health conditions caused by work-related stress or trauma.
If you have experienced any of the following accidents in the workplace, it’s likely that you qualify for workers compensation. If you have questions or need representation, don’t wait - contact Wettermark Keith’s team of workers’ comp lawyers at 877-715-9300.
Why Hire a Workers’ Comp Attorney in the First Place?
Not everyone understands the need for a workers’ comp attorney. Often, workers believe that their employers or insurance companies will provide the necessary support and do what's right by them, having their best interests at heart. They may not be aware of the extent of their rights or understand the intricacies and potential hurdles in the workers' compensation claim process. Some might fear the costs of hiring an attorney, or may be concerned about causing conflict in their workplace.
This lack of understanding about the role of a workers' compensation attorney leads injured workers to inadvertently forfeit their rights and accept less compensation than they’re entitled to under the law. You deserve more. Whether you're dealing with a denied claim, a disputed settlement offer, or difficulty obtaining medical treatment, a workers' compensation lawyer can be your advocate and ally. But beyond their legal expertise, a workers' compensation lawyer can offer a sense of comfort and reassurance by listening to your concerns, answering your questions, and providing expert legal guidance.
Before partnering with a workers’ comp attorney, it can be helpful to understand how they work and what they can do for you. Continue reading to learn more about how exactly workers’ comp attorneys operate, and how they can protect your rights after a work injury.
The Role of an Attorney in a Workers’ Comp Claim: Step by Step
Navigating the world of workers’ compensation can be especially challenging when you're dealing with the physical and emotional toll of a workplace injury. The legal system is often overwhelming, complicated by various legal terminologies, strict deadlines, protocols, and bureaucratic hurdles. Your workers' compensation attorney will utilize their legal expertise to guide you through every step of the workers’ comp process, defending your rights, and fighting for the compensation you rightfully deserve. The steps below outline this process:
The first step your attorney will take in your workers' compensation case is to meet with you for an in-depth discussion about the circumstances of your injury. This includes how and when the injury occurred, what your current medical status is, and the effects of the injury on your ability to perform their job. The attorney will also need to know about any conversations you may have had with your employer or insurance company.
After the initial consultation, your attorney will begin an in-depth investigation. This may include obtaining and reviewing your medical records, interviewing witnesses, and gathering as much information as possible about your workplace injury.
Based on the nature and extent of your injury, your attorney will determine what type and amount of workers' compensation benefits you may be entitled to. This may include medical expenses, lost wages, and (potentially) disability benefits.
Once all the necessary information has been gathered and compiled into an acceptable format, the attorney will file your workers' compensation claim, making sure to include all documentation necessary to demonstrate its validity
After your claim has been filed, your attorney will negotiate with your insurance company on your behalf, using their powerful persuasive skills to seek the best possible settlement. In the vast majority of cases, the claim ends at this stage with a reasonable settlement.
If your claim is disputed by the insurance company, your attorney will prepare for and represent your interests at all necessary hearings or mediation sessions. This involves presenting additional evidence, examining witnesses, and making convincing legal arguments to support your claim.
If your claim continues to be denied, your attorney will prepare an appeal to the workers' compensation board or the relevant court. At this stage, an appeal will usually involve written legal arguments and potentially additional hearings.
Your attorney will continue to negotiate with the insurance company throughout the process, with the aim of reaching a satisfactory settlement. If the best possible settlement cannot be reached, your attorney will represent you in the courtroom - and will not rest until a favorable conclusion is reached.
Remember, this process, while often challenging, is not one you have to go through alone. Your attorney is there to support and guide you every step of the way, fighting for your rights and working towards a resolution that reflects the true extent of your injury and its impact on your life. Try to stay hopeful - with expert legal representation, you have a far greater chance of obtaining the compensation and peace of mind you deserve.
When You Should Hire a Workers Comp Attorney:
Recognizing when to secure the services of a workers' compensation attorney is crucial to protect your rights and interests. Certain situations absolutely require legal intervention, where the expertise and experience of an attorney could make a significant difference in the outcome of your case. These scenarios include:
Your workers' comp is denied, delayed, or disputed by your employer or the insurance company.
You have a pre-existing condition that makes your workers’ comp claim more complex.
Your injury is severe and will require ongoing medical treatment or leave you with a permanent disability.
You have been unable to obtain appropriate medical treatment for your injury.
You are offered a settlement that does not adequately compensate you for your injury or lost wages.
Wettermark Keith’s workers’ comp attorneys have extensive experience with each of these scenarios. Our lawyers can ensure your legal rights are protected, guarantee that you receive excellent medical care, and negotiate for your highest possible compensation.
If You’ve Been Injured at Work, Contact Wettermark Keith
Workplace accidents should be dealt with seriously. We place a lot of trust in our jobs to keep us safe - when that trust is betrayed, we must take action to protect ourselves. The best way to win any personal injury case is to tell your story - your pain, your suffering, and your needs. At Wettermark Keith, our workers’ comp lawyers will ensure your voice is heard.
With offices located throughout Alabama, Tennessee, and Florida, Wettermark Keith has an excellent reputation as one of the most accomplished personal injury firms in the country. Our reach is not only regional, but it also includes a diverse range of practice areas, including workers’ compensation law. We believe in taking cases personally. Our purpose is to practice with care and compassion - to tell our clients’ stories and make their voices heard. Our attorneys do this by building strong relationships based on constant communication and an unwavering dedication to truth and trust.
Frequently Asked Questions
Communication is key when working with a workers' comp lawyer. It's crucial to establish a relationship built on trust and honesty, where you feel comfortable sharing your concerns and asking questions. Your attorney should keep you informed throughout the legal process, whether through phone calls, emails, or in-person meetings. You may also need to provide updates to your lawyer regarding your medical treatment, work status, and other relevant information. Regular communication can help you and your lawyer stay on the same page and work towards a common goal: getting you the benefits you deserve. Your lawyer can provide valuable guidance on how to navigate the workers' compensation system, what to expect during the legal process, and how to best protect your legal rights. By keeping the lines of communication open, you can help ensure that your case is progressing smoothly and that any issues or concerns are addressed promptly. Ultimately, working collaboratively with your workers' comp lawyer can increase your chances of a successful outcome and help you move forward with your life after a work-related injury or illness.
You should consider hiring a workers' compensation lawyer if you have suffered a work-related injury or illness and are experiencing difficulty obtaining benefits or medical treatment. Additionally, if your employer or insurance company disputes your claim or if you have a pre-existing condition that is complicating your case, it may be beneficial to seek legal representation. Furthermore, if you have a permanent disability, have been denied benefits, or your benefits are not enough to cover your medical bills and lost wages, it's advisable to seek the help of a workers' compensation attorney. A workers' compensation lawyer can also help if you feel that your employer is retaliating against you for filing a claim or if your claim has been unfairly denied or delayed. An experienced attorney can review your case, assess the strength of your claim, and provide guidance on the best course of action. By hiring a workers' compensation lawyer, you can have the peace of mind that comes with knowing that your legal rights are protected and that you have an advocate fighting for your best interests.
Most workers' compensation lawyers work on a contingency fee basis, meaning that they only get paid if they win your case or obtain a settlement on your behalf. The lawyer's fee is typically a percentage of the benefits or settlement amount, and the percentage varies by state and can range from 10% to 25% or more. It's important to note that the percentage fee for a comp attorney is regulated by state law and must be approved by a judge. This fee arrangement allows injured workers to obtain legal representation without having to pay upfront costs or hourly fees, making it more accessible for those who may not have the financial means to hire an attorney. Additionally, the contingency fee model incentivizes lawyers to work diligently and effectively on behalf of their clients, as their payment is tied to the outcome of the case. However, it's important to discuss the fee agreement with your attorney and ensure that you understand all of the terms and potential costs involved before hiring them.
Hiring a comp attorney is recommended, especially when your claim is denied, when you are experiencing difficulty obtaining medical treatment or benefits, or when you have a pre-existing condition that may complicate your case. A workers' compensation lawyer can help you navigate the complex legal system, ensure that you receive the benefits you are entitled to, and represent you in any disputes or negotiations with your employer or insurance company. By hiring an experienced attorney, you can navigate the complex legal system, ensure you receive the benefits you're entitled to, and have someone represent you in any disputes or negotiations with your employer or insurance company. With most workers' compensation lawyers working on a contingency fee basis, you don't have to worry about upfront costs or paying them unless they win your case or obtain a settlement on your behalf.
Yes, a workers' compensation lawyer can be extremely helpful if your claim has been denied. They can assist with appealing the denial and represent you throughout the legal process. They can also help gather evidence, negotiate with the insurance company, and advocate for your rights to ensure that you receive the benefits you are entitled to under the law. Appealing a denied claim can be a daunting task, but having a workers' compensation lawyer by your side can make all the difference. They can help gather evidence, navigate the appeals process, negotiate with insurance companies, and advocate for your rights, ensuring that you receive the benefits you are entitled to under the law. Additionally, a lawyer can provide valuable legal advice and support throughout the entire process, helping to alleviate the stress and uncertainty that often accompanies a denied claim. By hiring a workers' compensation lawyer, you can have peace of mind knowing that you have an experienced advocate on your side who is dedicated to fighting for your rights and securing the compensation you deserve.
While your risk for injury greatly depends on the type of work you do, some of the most common injuries include the following:
- Falling to a lower level
- Injury due to repetitive motions (i.e. carpal tunnel)
- Falling objects
- Slipping, tripping, and/or falling over an object
- Injury due to a machine or piece of equipment
In Alabama, the workers' compensation claims process follows specific steps, designed to ensure that injured workers receive the support and benefits they need. This journey from injury to recovery can be complex, and understanding each phase is crucial:
Report the Injury: The first step is to report your injury to your employer immediately. In Alabama, you typically have up to five days to report an injury for workers’ compensation claims.
Seek Medical Attention: Visit a healthcare provider for treatment. Remember, under Alabama law, your employer may have the right to select the initial treating physician.
Filing the Claim: Your employer is responsible for filing the claim with their insurance company. This should be done as promptly as possible after the injury is reported.
Insurance Company’s Response: The insurance company will evaluate the claim and determine if it's compensable under Alabama's workers' compensation laws. They may accept, deny, or request more information.
Receiving Benefits: If your claim is approved, you’ll start receiving benefits, which could include medical treatment costs and compensation for lost wages.
Under Alabama's Workers' Compensation Law, injured workers are entitled to specific rights:
Right to Medical Treatment: You have the right to receive necessary medical treatment for your work-related injury or illness, with costs covered by your employer’s insurance.
Disability Compensation: If you’re unable to work due to your injury, you're entitled to disability compensation. This could be temporary or permanent, depending on the severity of your injury.
Right to Appeal: If your claim is denied, you have the right to appeal the decision through the Alabama Department of Labor.
Prevention is always better than cure, especially in the context of workplace safety. Alabama employers are required to follow safety regulations set by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). Employees can also play a proactive role by:
Adhering to Safety Protocols: Always follow established safety guidelines and use protective equipment.
Reporting Hazards: Report potential safety hazards to your employer promptly.
Safety Training: Participate in all safety training sessions provided by your employer to stay informed about best practices in workplace safety.
HERE'S WHAT TO DO NEXT
If you or a loved one have been injured and think you might have a case, call us now for a free consultation.