Represent Yourself or Hire a Workers’ Comp Lawyer
If you’ve suffered a work injury or developed an occupational disease, it may be tempting to bypass the seemingly intimidating legal system and attempt to represent yourself in your workers’ compensation case. You may be motivated to save money by not paying legal fees, or by lack of free time to meet up with lawyers or attend court dates. You may feel overwhelmed by medical bills and so focused on your path to recovery that you want your compensation case settled and out of mind as soon as you are able to go back to work.
When to Represent Yourself
There are only a handful of situations where you can get away with representing yourself in your work injury case without missing out on the maximum amount of benefits to which you’re entitled, or digging yourself deeper into problems with your employer down the road. You can represent yourself in court if you suffered a small, non-debilitating injury on the job, such as a cut that requires stitches, a twisted ankle, or a muscle sprain. You can also represent yourself if you don’t currently have a pre-existing condition, your employer immediately admits fault for your injury or illness, and you missed less than seven days of work due to your injury.
However, for larger issues or potentially illegal situations, such as employer retaliation for filing a workers’ comp claim, it’s best if you consult with an experienced workers’ compensation attorney before proceeding with your case. Situations involving major injuries or illnesses, or any concurrent payouts from Social Security or Medicare, are better handled by someone intimately familiar with workers’ comp law. Although it’s easy to think you’re saving money or headaches by representing yourself, you shouldn’t risk losing benefits you may be eligible for or having your claim denied due to improper filing or representation.
When to Hire a Workers’ Comp Attorney
It’s a fairly common occurrence for employees filing workers’ comp claims to settle with their employers if their claim is denied, or if they receive less money than what they should be receiving. Unfortunately, once a workers’ comp claim is closed or settled, it cannot be reopened, and the claimant is stuck with whatever was granted to them, even if it’s not a sufficient amount to cover all of their medical expenses.
Hiring an attorney is the only failsafe way to guarantee you’re maximizing your benefits, correctly representing your case, filing the proper paperwork by the proper deadlines, and thoroughly documenting the severity of your workplace injury and your need for employer compensation. Most workers’ comp lawyers will also offer a free initial consultation to consider your situation, so you won’t even have to worry about paying legal fees until compensation is awarded, and even then, a 15-20% fee is worth the satisfaction of knowing you tapped into all of your possible compensation streams.
You should hire a qualified work injury lawyer to represent you in the following situations:
If you’re reduced to permanent partial or total disability resulting from a work accident, repeated motions or exposure to harmful chemicals that eventually led to the diagnosis of an occupational disease. You may be entitled to lifetime weekly payments or a lump sum settlement for your permanent partial or total disability if your disability is so severe that you can no longer perform the functions of your job, or return to work at all.
Since these perpetual payouts are huge expenses for insurance carriers, they will go to any length to ensure they don’t have to pay you what you deserve. Only an expert attorney can help argue your case, so you earn your fair share of compensation.
If your employer denies your claim or is late paying your benefits when they’re most needed. People with denied claims are more than likely to simply accept the fact that their claim has been denied when they are actually in a strong position to appeal their claim denial. A dedicated work injury lawyer can guide you through the process of appealing and ensure you receive your fair share of compensation.
If you’re also receiving medical benefits or assistance from Social Security or Medicare. The majority of your medical bill assistance will come from workers’ comp, but these payments can offset or interfere with your Social Security and Medicare payments. To avoid losing potential future medical payments or relinquishing a portion of your payout to the Social Security Administration, you should hire a workers’ comp lawyer.
If your claim settlement amount isn’t sufficient enough to cover all of your medical expenses or lost wages. Not understanding what wages you deserve in the first place can make this situation much more challenging. Instead of trusting a judge to decide what you deserve, rest easy knowing you have a knowledgeable lawyer on your side. Your initial consultation with nearly all workers’ comp lawyers will be free, and they will know how to argue your case to win you the highest possible settlement.
If your employer fired or demoted you, cut your hours or pay, or retaliated against you in any other way for filing your workers’ comp claim. These activities are examples of illegal workplace discrimination and warrant the hiring of a workers’ comp attorney right away.
Decide Which Option is Best for You
Deciding to represent yourself in your workers’ comp case can seem like the most convenient option, but it can end up costing you much more than you realize. Consulting with a work injury attorney about your case can give them insight into your situation and help you determine whether or not you can handle the case on your own—all for free.
In addition to presenting the facts about your case to the courts in a clear, organized fashion, only a workers’ comp attorney is fully qualified to evaluate and document the severity of your injury or illness and properly estimate how much compensation your case is worth. Your attorney can also help you fill out and submit the required forms for your claim and meet all submission deadlines.
The workers’ compensation law system is designed largely to benefit employers and insurance carriers. They are looking out for their own interests and profits above all else, and aren’t afraid to twist your story or discard the facts about your case to ensure you don’t receive your entitled compensation. Don’t wait until your benefits have stopped or your claim has been denied to consult with a work injury lawyer who’s ready to take up your case.
If you’re not sure whether to represent yourself in your workers’ comp case, it’s always a sound idea to consult with an experienced workers’ comp attorney. Goldberg & Wolf has been helping clients win the workers’ comp benefits they deserve since 1992. Serving Cherry Hill and the surrounding areas, we are just one call or visit away from learning more about your work injury or occupational disease.
We are here to prepare your medical documentation and present your case, so the law is on your side. Contact our dedicated legal team today at (856)-651-1600 today for a free consultation.