The Top Five Reasons to Hire a Workers’ Compensation Lawyer
Pennsylvania law requires almost all employers to purchase workers’ compensation insurance to cover medical expenses and lost wages for employees who are hurt on the job. Although efforts have been made to streamline the filing process, it can still be extremely difficult to request and collect compensation, especially for employees who suffered a severe injury. For this reason, it is critical for injured workers to speak with an experienced Philadelphia workers’ compensation lawyer who can ensure that their claim is filed and processed as quickly as possible.
Evaluating the Claim
One of the most important services that a work injury lawyer can provide is an initial case evaluation. Determining how much a case is worth is almost impossible without the aid of a workers’ comp attorney who can evaluate the facts of a case, as well as the evidence available to the injured party. After reviewing this information, an attorney can explain the likelihood of reaching a settlement with an employer. In some cases, injuries are so minor that employers and their insurers will not provide benefits at all. An experienced attorney will be able to recognize these types of cases at an early date and so save injured workers the time and money that they would spend trying to collect compensation. Alternatively, an injured party may have an extremely strong claim, in which case, the attorney can begin collecting evidence immediately.
Filing a Claim
Some employees may be unaware that they can file a claim for workers’ compensation insurance PA until it is too late. Hiring an attorney as soon as a person is injured can help avoid this type of situation, as an experienced workers’ comp lawyer will be well equipped to help an injured worker get the ball rolling by taking the following steps:
- Ensuring that the injured worker visits a doctor for an evaluation;
- Providing official notice to the employee’s supervisor or employer about the injury;
- Collecting physical evidence from the accident, speaking with eyewitnesses, and collecting medical records and other documentation; and
- Responding to any inquiries from the employer or requests for more information.
Injured employees who do not take these precautions risk losing medical benefits and compensation for lost work.
Protecting an Employee’s Legal Rights
Although employees who are injured on the job and are required to take time off from work are almost always guaranteed to receive workers’ compensation, insurance adjusters are in the business of trying to pay as little as possible to injured employees. An experienced attorney can help ensure that an employee is not taken advantage of by an insurer. This often occurs when insurers offer lowball settlements for qualifying claims, as many injured workers are so desperate to collect compensation by that point that they are tempted to accept a lower offer than they deserve. Injured employees can help prevent this by hiring a work injury lawyer who can counter an insurer’s settlement offer.
An experienced attorney can also ensure that an injured worker receives the benefits that he or she deserves, which could vary depending on the seriousness of the injury, as well as the injured employee’s wage. Pennsylvania law requires employers to provide their injured workers with two-thirds of their average weekly wage until they are able to return to work. As a result, how much an injured employee receives is highly dependent on his or her salary. If an insurance company undervalues a person’s average weekly income, the injured worker could lose out on a significant amount of compensation. Even a few dollars difference can result in a substantial loss in the long run, which could make it extremely difficult for the injured party to pay household expenses and other bills while recuperating. Workers’ comp attorneys are well aware of the calculations used by insurers and can prevent this type of unfair payment early in the process.
Screening for Third Party Liability
Because most employers are required to purchase workers’ comp insurance, injured employees do not have any other remedy when collecting compensation for a workplace injury. For example, an employee who suffered a broken bone when he or she slipped and fell while at work would be barred from filing a personal injury lawsuit against the employer. Instead, the worker’s sole remedy would be the workers’ compensation insurance system, which provides a supplement for lost wages and coverage of medical costs.
The one exception to this rule is when a worker was injured by a third party while on the job. In these cases, an injured employee could file a claim against the responsible party for additional damages, such as pain and suffering. This situation arises most often on construction sites where employees who are working for a number of different contractors all work on the same site. If, for example, a painter was injured when the scaffolding he or she was working on collapsed, the injured party may be able to file a claim against the scaffolding company if it negligently constructed the scaffolding or used improper materials when doing so. In these cases, an injured worker could have standing to file a personal injury claim against the responsible entity or individual. However, this could impact how much an injured party can collect through workers’ compensation, making it especially important for those who believe that their injuries were the result of third party negligence to speak with a work injury lawyer as soon as possible.
Appealing a Denied Claim
Unfortunately, thousands of qualifying workers’ compensation claims are denied every year. Reasons for denied claims range from a failure to submit a claim before the 120-day deadline to bad faith or dishonesty on the insurer’s part. Although injured workers whose claims are denied have the right to file an appeal, the process can be time-consuming and expensive, especially for those who are not represented by an attorney, as it may be necessary to submit additional evidence and attend a number of hearings and oral arguments.
Seeking Legal Advice
Anyone who sustained an injury at work should consult with a workers’ comp attorney. However, there are certain situations in which it is critical to do so, including when:
- An employer reports that an injury is not covered by insurance;
- The employer’s insurer denies the claim;
- The accident exacerbates a pre-existing injury;
- An employee is already receiving Social Security disability benefits;
- The employee is fired or laid off immediately following the injury;
- An employee believes that he or she is not receiving the correct amount of benefits;
- An employee is injured by a third-party;
- An injury is so severe that it may keep an employee from ever returning to work;
- A claim is accepted, but some of the medical bills have not been covered; and
- A doctor says that the injured employee can go back to work, but he or she is still struggling with significant pain or immobility.
If any of these situations apply to you, you should consider speaking with a work injury lawyer as soon as possible.
Call a Dedicated Philadelphia Work Injury Lawyer
The attorneys at Krasno Krasno & Onwudinjo have been answering the call for injured workers for over three generations. If you were hurt at work, please call us at 800-952-9640 to speak with a compassionate and dedicated workers’ compensation lawyer about your case.