Getting injured on the job is a real possibility for workers, whether you sit at your desk all day or you have a job that relies on physical labor. An injury on the job could happen as the result of a car accident, burns, and slips and falls.
The average workers’ compensation claim pays out about $40,000. However, these funds aren’t always easy to obtain because insurance companies may deny your claim. With the help of an workers compensation lawyer, about 70% of denied claims are paid, and for more money.
An attorney is a great resource to have by your side to make sure you get what you’re entitled to. You may be reluctant to hire an attorney because of the costs. You’ll be surprised to discover the true costs of hiring a workers compensation attorney.
Keep reading to learn what workers compensation is, how it works, and how much an attorney costs.
A Brief Guide on Workers Compensation
Before we get into the cost of hiring a workers compensation attorney, it helps to understand the basics of workers compensation. This will help you recognize the role of the lawyers in the process and how they get paid.
Workers comp is a form of insurance that businesses with employees must have to cover medical bills and lost income if an employee gets injured while doing their work. Workers compensation is to be paid no matter whose fault it is.
The vast majority of states mandate that businesses have a policy that covers workplace injuries. The only state where workers compensation insurance is an optional buy from employers in Texas.
They oversee the rules and enforce them. The states also legislate how much should be paid in benefits.
In most states, businesses purchase workers compensation insurance from a private insurance company.
There are some exceptions to that rule. States like Washington, Ohio, Wyoming, and North Dakota have businesses purchase workers compensation through government insurance funds, rather than private insurers.
How Workers Compensation Works
When you get injured on the job, your first step is to report the injury to your employer. This is the most important step because it’s up to you to prove that the injury and lost wages are a direct result of performing work duties.
Not only that, but many states have a statute of limitations, this is the amount of time to report your injury and file a claim. You usually have a matter of days to report the injury and about a year or two to file the claim.
Your employer will give you some options for your next steps. They’ll also give you paperwork to fill out the details of the incident and your injury.
Your employer will tell you that you should see a doctor for your injury. Some employers will tell you to see a specific doctor. If they do, it should raise a red flag and you will want to get an attorney involved.
The employer may file a claim with the insurance company or it may be your responsibility. The insurance company will review your case and determine if the claim should be paid or not. Your claim may get denied while you’re out of work and your medical bills pile up.
Getting a second job or filing for disability or unemployment insurance while you’re waiting for the claim to get settled could hurt your case. The laws are different in each state that tell you what you can and can’t do while you’re waiting for your claim to get resolved.
That’s one of the reasons why a workers compensation lawyer is valuable to have.
How Much Does a Worker’s Compensation Attorney Cost?
Are you afraid that you’re going to pay $250 an hour for an attorney? It’s a reasonable assumption to have, but that’s not how workers comp lawyers charge clients.
How do workers comp lawyers get paid? They get paid on a contingency basis, which means that they get paid a percentage if you receive a settlement.
Many states have laws on the books that limit the percentage an attorney can take from your settlement. That’s because that settlement money is for your medical bills and lost wages. If you have to give half to an attorney, you’ll end up losing money.
State laws will be different from one state to the next. You’ll want to check with the Workers Compensation Commission or Department of Labor in your state to find out what the limits are.
The contingency fee structure is important for a number of reasons. The first is that an attorney is accessible to everyone. The second is that an attorney gets paid only if you win, so they’ll put everything they have into your case and they have an incentive to get more for you.
The third is that attorneys will take cases that they believe they can win. It can’t be said enough how important reporting and documenting your injury as soon as it occurs is. This will help you make your case and make it more likely an attorney will take you on as a client.
What Will an Attorney Do for Your Workers Compensation Case?
A workers compensation attorney will first review your claim. You need to make sure that you have all of your documentation, such as medical reports, and any documentation that you have from your employer regarding the injury.
The attorney will ask you questions about your claim and you’ll come to an agreement about having them represent you with your workers compensation case.
The workers comp lawyer will take care of most of the work for you. They’ll help you with insurance, financial options while you’re waiting for your claim to get paid, and appeal a claim on your behalf.
They could put in hours and hours of work, depending on how complex your case is. You can fully expect that your workers compensation lawyer will fight for you because it benefits you and their law firm.
Finding the Right Workers Compensation Lawyer
Trying to find the best workers compensation attorney for your case isn’t as simple as doing an online search and calling the first one that appears.
Workers compensation attorneys aren’t the same. Asking these questions before you hire one will help you make the best decision when finding a workers comp attorney.
How Much Experience Do You Have with Worker’s Compensation Cases?
You may be surprised to learn that not all lawyers know the ins and outs of workers compensation laws. These laws are complicated, and hiring an attorney that doesn’t understand them could cause you to miss a deadline and lose your case.
What Is Your Success Rate and Average Claim Amount?
This is another way to gauge an attorney’s experience with workers compensation cases. You want to hire an attorney that gets results. Knowing how much they got for other clients will give you an idea as to how much they can get for you.
The success rate of the attorney is the percentage of cases won versus lost. It’s like a batting average. A higher average is a good sign that the attorney can win your case.
Do You Work on My Case or Do You Work with a Paralegal?
Attorneys are busy and they aren’t likely to spend every spare moment on your case. Many firms and attorneys will work with assistants or paralegals to do the majority of work on your case.
How Often Will You Communicate Case Updates with Me?
The best workers comp lawyers are in touch with you often and will give you updates on your case. There are other attorneys that will disappear and become hard to reach. Your attorney should tell you what to expect for case updates.
Do I Have a Workers Compensation Case?
An attorney will look at the details of your case and let you know if you qualify to receive workers compensation and about how much you could expect to receive.
Can I Receive Other Benefits?
As was stated earlier, you may be able to apply for other benefits such as disability insurance while you wait for your claim to get settled. Your attorney will have an answer as to the best option for you.
The Cost of Hiring a Workers Compensation Attorney
When you weigh the cost of hiring a workers compensation attorney against what they’ll do for you, it makes it much easier to decide to hire one.
A workers comp lawyer gets paid on a contingency basis, meaning that they don’t get paid unless you receive a settlement. How much they can get depends on the scope of work and the laws in your state.
You can be sure that working with a workers compensation lawyer will give you peace of mind and help you get the money that you deserve.
For more healthcare insights, visit the home page of this blog for more articles.