Should I Get a Lawyer for Workers’ Compensation?
Workers’ compensation benefits both employers and employees. When an employee is injured on the job, they file a claim against their employer’s insurance and, ideally, the insurance company covers their medical expenses and a percentage of their lost wages.
As a tradeoff for this system, employers enjoy immunity from tort or personal injury lawsuits even when their own negligence is to blame for an accident. Both parties benefit.
On the other hand, they are not the only two parties involved. The insurance company, as a third party that pays out the claim, can deny a workers’ compensation claim. All they need to do is establish legal grounds. Now, this puts you as the worker in an awkward position. You can either accept their denial or you can appeal the decision and fight it.
The experienced workers’ compensation attorneys at Sabbeth Law represent injured workers in the states of New Hampshire and Vermont who have unfairly had their claims denied. We build your case, appeal the decision, and ensure that you are compensated fairly for your injuries.
YOU MAY NOT NEED A LAWYER FOR YOUR WORKERS’ COMPENSATION CLAIM
A workers’ compensation lawyer is not necessary in every legal case. There are situations in which injured workers will be able to handle their entire claim on their own. Specifically, you may not need to get help from a workers’ compensation lawyer if the following five things all apply to your case:
- Your injury is clearly related to your job;
- You do not require long-term medical care;
- You will be able to return to your work relatively quickly;
- You do not have permanent injuries or impairments; and
- You are being treated fairly by your employer and the insurance company.
As soon as you are injured, you should tell your employer immediately that you are injured. You should not delay, otherwise, you might forfeit benefits.
By law, your employer can send you to a company doctor for your first medical visit. When you visit the doctor, tell him or her that you were injured at work and get a written doctor’s note if you are too injured to work. If you want to meet with your own doctor for subsequent visits, obtain a Form 8 and file it.
Your employer should file the report with the Department of Labor within 3 days. If they do not, you should call 802-828-2286 to file the report using Form 5 yourself. Your employer’s insurance carrier has 21 days to investigate and make a decision about whether your injury is covered. If you do not hear from the insurance carrier, call the number provided in this paragraph.
As an example, if you suffered a moderate back injury that requires you to take a week or two off of work, but that will not result in any long-term impairment, you will not need a workers’ compensation lawyer — assuming that your employer handles your claim fairly and you get access to the compensation you are owed.
However, if you suffered a severe injury or if you are running into any problems in the claim process, you should call an experienced workers’ compensation attorney right away. Our lawyers can offer free, no-risk initial consultations. We will review your case and let you know if a lawyer can add real value.
Seven Times When Should I Hire a Lawyer for My Workers’ Compensation Case?
Certainly, if you were hurt on the job and you were denied workers’ compensation benefits, you need to seek professional legal support. But that isn’t the only time that you want to hire an attorney. Insurance companies won’t just deny claims. They, in cases where they have no legal means of denying a claim, will devalue the claim instead. In other words, they will give you significantly less money than you’re owed.
Here is a list of seven situations in which you should call a workers’ compensation attorney for professional guidance.
- When your Workers’ Comp claim is denied: Let’s handle the obvious first. If you have submitted what you consider to be a valid claim to your employer and their insurance company has denied the claim, then you should consider hiring an attorney immediately. First of all, the insurance company only evaluates fault to the extent that you were or were not drunk or high during the accident. Your employer can be 100% responsible for your injuries and the insurance company will claim they are not liable. The system covers your employer, so you can’t directly sue them. You must battle the insurance company to get your owed compensation under the law.
- If you are denied benefits, read your denial letter. The letter should contain the following information:
- The reasons why you were denied benefits. For example, the insurer might not believe your injury is work-related, or they might not agree that your injury is covered by workers compensation insurance.
- Your appeal rights and the deadlines you must meet to bring an appeal.
- After your claim is denied, you can request an appeal with the Department of Labor (DOL). You will need to convince the Department that you qualify for benefits by submitting medical and other evidence.
- If you are denied benefits, read your denial letter. The letter should contain the following information:
- You sustained serious injuries: If you have sustained very serious injuries that will require you to miss a significant amount of time to work, you want to involve a lawyer early in the process. We can help you recover the full value of your claim and ensure that the insurance company doesn’t shortchange you.
- You are Disputing Your Disability Rating: If you suffered a permanent disability, permanent disfigurement, or a permanent physical impairment as a result of your workplace accident, you will likely be assigned a disability rating. It is this rating that will, in large part, determine the total value of your workers’ compensation settlement. If your rating is unfairly low — which unfortunately happens in far too many cases — you need to challenge it. Our Vermont and New Hampshire workers’ compensation lawyers can help.
- You have repetitive stress injuries: Repetitive stress injuries are very difficult to pin a cause on. For that reason, your attorney must prove that your primary work-related duties caused your injury. Without an attorney, your claim will likely be denied with the insurance company saying it wasn’t a result of your work.
- You Have a Pre Existing Injury or Medical Condition: Workers’ compensation claims involving people who have pre-existing injuries or medical conditions are complex. In processing workers’ compensation applications, insurers always want to review medical records of the injured employee. If they can get away with blaming your injuries on a pre-existing condition, it is likely that they will attempt to do so. If you have a pre-existing injury, especially one that is related to your workplace injury, it is strongly recommended that you hire an experienced attorney.
- You are Currently Receiving Other Government Benefits: Did you know that your workers’ compensation benefits could be offset against other government benefits? Specifically, this is an issue with Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits. If you are applying for SSDI or you are already receiving SSDI, it is essential that you consult with an experienced work injury attorney. Your workers’ compensation settlement must be structured in the proper manner, so that you can maximize the total benefits that you are eligible to receive. You do not want to make a mistake that could cause you to lose out on disability compensation that would otherwise be available.
- You are Preparing for a Workers’ Compensation Hearing: Finally, if you are preparing for a workers’ compensation hearing in Vermont or New Hampshire, you should speak to an attorney right away. Whether you have already filed a first appeal on your own or you are preparing for settlement talks, it is crucial that you have an experienced legal advocate on your side.
Building Your Case After Your Claim is Denied
The evidence you need to build your case depends on the reasons the insurance carrier rejected your claim. One big advantage of using a lawyer is that they know what the Department of Labor is looking for when reviewing your claim.
For example, if the carrier does not believe that your injury is sufficiently serious, then you can present medical records and medical testimony to the contrary. Similarly, if the carrier does not believe you were injured at work, you can have coworkers testify on your behalf.
A workers’ compensation lawyer can help collect all of this evidence. A lawyer also understands any new DOL decisions that might help your case.
WHY CHOOSE THE WORKERS’ COMPENSATION LAWYERS AT SABBETH LAW?
Our Vermont and New Hampshire workers’ compensation attorneys are committed to providing exceptional legal representation to injured employees and their family members. We have extensive experience handling the full range of workers’ compensation claims. No matter the specific nature of your case, our attorneys are ready to protect your rights. We will:
- Conduct a free, no-risk review of your workers’ comp claim;
- Answer all of your questions; and
- Take the appropriate legal action to get you the maximum workers’ compensation benefits.
YOU CAN ALWAYS AFFORD AN EXPERIENCED WORKERS’ COMPENSATION ATTORNEY
If you or your loved one suffered a serious injury in a workplace accident, it can put a considerable economic strain on your family. Medical bills can start piling up quickly. At the same time, those missed paychecks will add even more financial pressure. It is normal for injured workers to be worried about the cost of skilled legal representation. After all, aren’t lawyers expensive? This is a common misconception. Regardless of your current financial situation, you can afford to hire a top-rated workers’ compensation lawyer.
At Sabbeth Law, our Vermont workers’ compensation attorneys and our New Hampshire workers’ compensation attorneys handle claims on a contingency fee basis. We get paid when you get paid. Our law firm is so confident that we can help our clients, that we will take on all of the financial risks of pursuing a workers’ compensation claim or workers’ compensation appeal. There are no out-of-pocket costs or upfront legal fees.
Contact Sabbeth Law—Vermont and New Hampshire Workers’ Compensation Attorneys
At Sabbeth Law, our workers’ compensation attorneys have made it our passion to help injured workers recover the money they’re owed under their state’s workers’ compensation laws. If you or your loved one was injured on the job, we are here to help. We have helped countless workers qualify for the benefits they deserve.
Give us a call today to set up a free consultation. From our law office in Woodstock, our work injury lawyers represent clients throughout Vermont and New Hampshire.