Suffering a work injury is devastating in many ways: you’re injured, unable to work, and also worried about your income. There are many steps in the process of filing a workers’ compensation claim, and unfortunately, not all employers and insurance companies provide workers with the benefits they’re entitled to by law. To ensure that all of your rights are protected, you should contact an attorney immediately.
Can I represent myself in a workers’ compensation case?
It is possible but not recommended. You may be able to get by without an attorney if all of the following statements are true:
- You suffered a minor workplace injury, such as a twisted ankle or minor cut
- You missed little to no work as a result of your injury
- Your employer admits that the injury happened at work.
- You do not have a pre-existing condition.
Even in these moderately uncomplicated situations, it’s often a good idea to contact a workers’ compensation attorney for a free consultation about your case, as the attorney can walk you through the process, alert you of any potential pitfalls, and give you an honest appraisal of whether you can handle the case on your own.
We strongly advise against representing yourself in a workers’ compensation case as your employer and its insurance company will be represented by an experienced workers’ compensation lawyer, putting you at a severe disadvantage.
What will a workers’ compensation lawyer do for me?
A workers’ compensation lawyer can help you through every step of the process.
Ideally, as soon as an injury occurs, you should contact a workers’ compensation attorney to prevent any ramifications. By law, you have 120 days to report an injury to your employer. The time frame begins from the date of your injury (or the date youknew or should have known of an occupational illness or disease). If you do not provide notice within 21 days, you will not be entitled to recover workers’ compensation benefits until the date that you actually do give notice, as long as it is actually given within 120 days. Failure to do so within the 120 days will prevents you from collecting any benefits.
There are also many deadlines for specific paperwork, which – if it is not filed correctly and in a timely manner – could jeopardize your benefits. An experienced Pennsylvania workers’ compensation attorney can ensure that your rights are protected. There is no fee unless your case is won, and a judge must approve all fees.
In addition to making sure that you file all necessary forms and meet all deadlines, your attorney will also understand how to develop medical evidence that documents the severity of your condition from your injury. Relying on the “independent” physicians who perform exams for insurance companies is a common but costly error committed by unrepresented claimants. Moreover, a workers’ compensation attorney can estimate the “worth” of your case and evaluate any settlement offers much more accurately than you (or the information on the Internet) can.
When should you hire a Pennsylvania workers’ compensation lawyer?
Knowing when to hire a workers’ compensation lawyer is crucial, and waiting too long can jeopardize your ability to receive benefits. The following are specific times in which you should hire an attorney to help your case:
- While filing a workers’ compensation claim after an injury. The attorney can ensure that you, your employer, and its insurance company are taking all the proper steps. If all injuries are not listed when you initially file a claim, you may not receive the full benefits you deserve.
- If your employer or the insurance company denies your workers’ compensation claim. 21 days after you report your work injury, your employer must decide whether or not it will accept your claim. Your employer can choose to do the following:
- Accept your claim fully, paying for medical expenses and lost wages
- Approve payment for your medical bills and deny payment for lost wages
- Accept your claim temporarily for 90 days if it’s not clear if your injuries are work related (the insurance company can stop your benefits any time within the 90 days)
- Deny your claim if there isn’t evidence that you were injured on the job
- If your employer attempts to stop or modify your workers’ compensation benefits. Your employer and the insurance company may try to reduce or eliminate your benefits by issuing certain medical examinations or finding vocational experts to assert that you are ready to go back to work even when you are not. An attorney will protect your rights to workers’ compensation if you are still affected by your job injuries.
- If your employer asks you to attend a medical examination or see a specific doctor. Some employers will attempt to control their employees’ medical treatment by instructing them that they can only see doctors from a specific list. In most cases, this is not true. A lawyer will make sure that you’re receiving quality medical treatment for your work injury.
- If there was a third party involved in your work injury. Sometimes there are third parties involved in work injuries, which could mean an additional settlement for those injured on the job. For example, if a truck driver got into an accident because of another driver while making a delivery, the truck driver may have a motor vehicle lawsuit against the other driver.
- If you collect additional benefits. Many times, those who receive workers’ compensation are eligible for other types of benefits such as Social Security disability. A lawyer can ensure that you receive the maximum amount of benefits with minimal to no offsets.
It’s important to contact a PA workers’ compensation attorney because additional settlements could offset your workers’ compensation settlement. An experienced lawyer can provide you with the correct guidance about whether or not another lawsuit is the best course of action.
Every single day, insurance companies deny valid claims, which leave injured workers and their families struggling to make ends meet. An attorney, on the other hand, will make sure your claim is handled properly.
Being injured at work is traumatic enough without having to worry about what your rights are and whether you are getting the benefits you deserve. Contact an attorney today to assist you with your workers’ compensation matter by filling out the form below.
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