If you have suffered a work-related illness or injury, you may be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits. Sad to say, employers or their chosen insurance providers routinely deny legitimate workers’ compensation claims, leaving injured employees to navigate a complex system of appeals. Many applicants give up at this point, while others attempt to navigate the claims process independently.
Hiring a specialized workers compensation lawyer Atlanta will increase your chances of obtaining the benefits you are entitled to. A lawyer will communicate with the workers’ compensation insurer on your behalf, collect medical evidence to support your claim, attempt to negotiate a favorable settlement and represent you at your workers’ compensation hearing.
The insurance company’s claims adjusters and lawyers will not look out for your best interests, and they will reject your legitimate claim for questionable reasons. Fortunately, a workers compensation lawyer can do a number of things to tilt the scales in your favor.
Workers’ compensation claims are dismissed for a variety of reasons, but the most prevalent of which is a lack of medical evidence. Even if your claim is granted, if you have good medical evidence to support your claim, you will be more likely to be given all of the medical assistance you require and all of the other benefits you are entitled to. An attorney can facilitate the development of medical evidence by performing the following tasks:
- collecting medical records
- arranging or suggesting treatment with specific physicians
- acquiring professional medical opinions from the treating physicians and through an impartial medical examination
- going to represent you when you are called to testify and answer questions at a deposition
- organize depositions of medical experts
There are various other forms of evidence that could support your claim, including:
- testimonial evidence from a vocational consultant about the physical demands of your employment
- testimonials from friends and family members regarding your everyday activities
- documentations demonstrating that your employer has a history of poor workplace health and safety measures or a lack of employee training and education
An expert workers compensation lawyer Atlanta will be able to determine what evidence is required to optimize the chances of obtaining a favorable conclusion depending on the weaknesses and strengths of your case.
Negotiate the terms of settlement agreements.
Workers’ compensation lawyers have the advantage of being able to estimate the worth of your case—that is, the number of benefits you should receive—based on a variety of factors, including:
- your recent medical expenses and the cost of medical treatment you will need in the future
- if you have lasting injuries
- if you have lost wages due to the accident
Lawyers are familiar with the negotiation strategies and methods employed by insurance companies, ranging from low-ball proposals to phony “final offers” that are not really final at all. Workers’ compensation lawyers are, with few exceptions, more likely to participate in beneficial talks with insurers versus applicants dealing with it alone.
In addition, your lawyer can ascertain that the settlement agreement is appropriately worded to avoid unfavorable future ramifications. An incorrectly constructed settlement agreement, for example, could result in you losing hundreds of dollars in benefits per month due to the workers’ compensation offset if you are currently receiving or filing for Social Security disability benefits. In addition, an attorney can work on creating a reasonable estimate of your future medical bills so that the settlement agreement will consider that as well.
However, while it is true that workers’ compensation judges must approve negotiated settlements, it would be unwise to put your faith in the judge’s ability to safeguard your interests appropriately. In settlement negotiations, the presence of an attorney is crucial.
Represent you during a workers’ compensation hearing or trial.
If you and the insurance company are unable to reach an agreement, your case will be heard in an administrative hearing or at trial before a workers’ compensation judge. If your attorney is involved in the discovery or investigation process, he or she may take depositions of witnesses, obtain your medical records, conduct legal research, submit your pleadings – petitions, motions, or answers to the insurance company – and ensure that everything is completed and submitted in a timely manner. You and your lawyer will submit a theory of the case or why you should be entitled to benefits to the judge. Your attorney will also question witnesses and raise objections whenever the insurance company does something improperly.
If you are dissatisfied with the hearing’s outcome, your lawyer can guide you in filing an appeal against the decision.
Provide you with information on third-party claims and other possible benefits.
It is possible that, in addition to filing a workers’ compensation claim, you will be entitled to file an individual injury claim against someone other than your employer whose carelessness caused or contributed to your injuries. Litigation against negligent drivers and makers of faulty equipment is common in Georgia. It is possible that a personal injury claim will be more lucrative than a workers’ compensation claim since damages can also include pain and suffering and also the loss of future earning potential.
You can also get advice from a competent worker’s compensation lawyer as to whether you would be eligible for other benefits, like vocational rehabilitation aid, salary reimbursements, long-term disability insurance benefits, short-term disability, and even Social Security disability.
Workers Compensation Lawyers Atlanta: Fees
Most lawyers only charge on a contingency fee basis, which means they do not charge any money in advance and will only get paid if you win your lawsuit. Many states place strict limits on the amount of money that workers’ compensation attorneys can charge, with charges often limited to 10 to 20 percent of the claim. Additionally, the workers’ compensation judge or appeals board may need to approve the payment of attorneys’ fees.
When Should You Retain the Services of a Workers Compensation Attorney Atlanta
If your workers’ compensation claim is easy, simple, and of low value, you may be able to represent yourself. Nonetheless, there are a number of circumstances in which engaging the services of an attorney is essential, including the following:
- you do not have much medical proof to support your claim
- your claim is of high value
- you have incurred serious, long-term ailments
- if your employer challenges your claim
- you are unsure whether to accept a settlement
- your claim has been refused, and you need to file an appeal with the court
If any of the situations listed above apply to you, you should call an experienced workers compensation lawyer Atlanta immediately.