6 Most Common Reasons for Hiring a Workers’ Comp Attorney
Milwaukee Personal Injury Attorneys on How Workers’ Compensation Works
Workers’ compensation is essentially an insurance program which covers the medical costs of injured workers’ as well as a salary when they are unable to work due to injury. Most worker compensation programs are state-run and provide varying degrees of compensation and benefits. These programs vary in what injuries and illnesses are covered.
Workers’ compensation typically pays for medical expenses, lost earnings and the loss of future earnings. Most provide for job training and physical therapy. In situations where a worker is killed on the job, workers’ compensation covers funeral costs and may also include wage-replacement benefits for the worker’s surviving family members. To qualify for workers’ compensation, the injury has to have been caused by the job or conditions at the place of employment—NOT from an injury caused by a coworker.
How Much Does Workers’ Compensation Pay?
Workers’ compensation payments are typically about one-half to two-thirds of your normal salary, but because it is tax free you end up with an income close to what you were making when working full-time. The amount of workers’ compensation offered is strongly influenced by the findings of an independent medical examination (IME). The insurance company chooses a doctor to conduct this exam, and the doctor’s findings are used by the insurance company as the basis for their compensation offer.
If you don’t like the workers’ compensation offered by your employer, it’s next to impossible to sue for pain and suffering or for employer negligence. This is because the entire workers’ compensation program is premised on what is known as the “compensation bargain” – which, in simple terms, means that employees waive their rights to sue their employer in exchange for a guaranteed benefits package if they become injured on the job or due to the job.
Most Common Reasons to Get a Workers’ Comp Lawyer:
- Your employer denies your claim or you do not get your benefits in a timely manner. It’s unfortunate, but employers and workers’ comp insurance companies do routinely deny legitimate workers’ comp claims because they know workers’ often assume they “can’t fight City Hall” and fail to make an appeal. Amazingly, as many as 80% of injured workers’ just accept the denial of their claim. Since most attorneys work on a contingency basis, it costs you nothing upfront to appeal a denied claim.
- Your employer's settlement offer doesn't cover all your lost wages or medical bills. If you think the settlement seems a bit inadequate, it probably is. Unfortunately, you can’t rely on a workers’ compensation judge to get a fair deal. You really need an attorney to argue on your behalf.
- Medical issues prevent you from returning to your job, or doing any kind of work at all. If have permanent partial disability or permanent total disability, you may be eligible for lifetime weekly payments to compensate for your lost income. Because this means a huge payout for an employer, they'll often do anything to avoid it. You really need a workers’ comp attorney on your side.
- You’re on Social Security. If a workers’ comp settlement isn't structured properly, Social Security can take a big chunk out of your benefits. A good attorney will know how to draft your settlement agreement to minimize or completely eliminate this offset.
- You’re facing retaliation for filing a workers’ comp. If you’ve been fired, demoted, had your hours slashed or had to contend with any other kind of discrimination over filing a claim, you definitely need an attorney.
- You may have a third-party claim. Even though workers’ comp was designed to keep work related injury cases out of the court system, this doesn’t preclude you from suing a third party whose negligence contributed to your injury. For instance, a delivery route driver who is hit by a distracted driver can file a civil suit against the motorist even while receiving workers’ comp benefits. Damages awarded in civil actions can easily surpass workers’ comp payments, since they can account for non-economic harms such as pain and suffering.
Exceptions to Workers’ Compensation in Wisconsin
Almost all employees, both in private industry and employed by the government, are covered by workers’ compensation. The only exceptions to this are:
- Domestic servants
- Some farm employees
- Volunteer workers, including those working for non-profits that receive money or other compensation totaling no more than $10 per week
- Members of qualified, certified religious sects
INJURED? IT IS ABOUT THE MONEY.®
Filing a Claim for Workers’ Compensation
After an injury, you need to notify your employer as soon as possible. Employers keep the paperwork for filing a workers’ compensation claim, known as an employee claim form. They may ask you to fill out the form, but it is their responsibility to report the injury to their worker’s compensation insurance carrier.
Any cash benefits for time lost from work become effective 3 days after you’re off the job. Those first 3 days after the injury are not covered unless your disability goes beyond 7 calendar days, in which case the first 3 days you were out of work would be covered and paid retroactively. Bear in mind, however, employers can contest the claim, which would hold up any payment until the matter is settled in court.
Do You Need a Lawyer to Assist with a Workers’ Compensation Claim?
In most cases, injured workers’ don’t need the involvement of an attorney. Usually, the employer does not contest the claim, and the compensation is fair. However, things don’t always go perfectly. If there is anything throwing a wrench in the process, it’s a good idea to get an attorney involved.
Workplace Injuries with the Possibility of a Lawsuit:
- Lacerations and Contusions
- Sprained or Broken Ankles
- Arm, Shoulder and Elbow Injuries
- Back Injuries
- Broken Bones
- Concussions and other Brain Injuries
- Joint Injuries and Dislocations
- Eye Injuries and Loss of Vision
- Injuries to Face/Head
- Damage to Internal Organs
- Knee Injuries
- Amputation and Loss of Limb
- Spine Injuries
- Sprains and Strains
Your insurance OR employer's insurance might be liable:
One of the biggest mistakes people make is listening to the first thing they are told by an insurance company about what policy and what coverage impacts their right to compensation. A personal injury law firm with an in-house accident investigator is well qualified to advise you on your best path to financial recovery.
Making Sure You Get the Workers’ Compensation You Deserve
If you’ve been injured on the job and feel as though your employer is shortchanging you on workers’ comp, or worse, have been told your claim was denied, you need an experienced attorney to step in and appeal the settlement. Since most attorneys working in this area of law will represent you on a contingency basis, you will not be required to pay any legal fees until the matter has been resolved and you are receiving workers’ compensation.