When Should I Get A Workers Comp Lawyer?
You have just sustained an injury on the job. You are now out of work. The two most important questions on your mind are probably 1) Am I going to get better, and 2) Will I be paid while I’m out of work.
In a perfect world, immediately following your work related injury, your employer will file a first report of injury. This is the first step in initiating the workers’ compensation benefits. Once they file the first report of injury, the workers compensation insurer, who insurers the employer in the event of a work-related injury, is put on notice. In this perfect world, the insurer will then initiate the payment of weekly benefits within 14 days. Furthermore, any and all treatment related to this injury will be paid for by the workers comp insurer, thus facilitating a quick recovery and a quick return to work.
This is what would happen in a perfect world. If this were the case, you might never need to get a workers comp lawyer. Unfortunately, this is not what happens in reality.
Firstly, many employers are uncooperative. If an employee is injured on the job and reports that injury to his boss, co-workers, or supervisor, there is very little certainty that they will then take the next step of filling out a first report of injury. Furthermore, an employee who is persistent and follows up on whether the employer has filled out the first report of injury may not be viewed in the most favorable light by the employer. Often times, they are viewed as a pain. The point is, it is almost impossible to predict the myriad of circumstances that might unfold following a work related injury. To be fair, many employers treat this process very seriously, and are very cooperative. However, an equal amount of employers, if not more, are very uncooperative, and make this very nerve-racking period in an employee’s life all the more so.
This is just one of many scenarios that can and often do unfold following a workers’ compensation injury. To answer the question, When Should I Get a Workers’ Comp Lawyer: the answer is RIGHT AWAY.
Even under ideal circumstances, an experienced workers’ comp lawyer can help alleviate some of the stressors that are commonly associated with this sensitive period of time in an employee’s life. It is also important to note that often times, if the employer and the workers’ compensation insurance company are doing what they are supposed to be doing, the attorney may simply keep an eye on the situation, and advise the client on the best course of action. A common misconception is that hiring, retaining, or even speaking to and attorney early on is that this attorney is going to sue the employer, or that the case is going to proceed in litigation. That is not the case. It is to the employee’s advantage to have an experience attorney who knows when and when not to get involved.
Eventually, even in a perfect world type scenario, there comes a time when the worker’s comp lawyer need to get involved. This could result from the insurance company not authorizing a course of medical treatment that the employee’s doctor is recommending, or in the event that the comp insurer reduces or terminates the employee’s weekly disability benefits. In these situations, the timing is very important. Often times, if weekly checks are terminated, it can take months to get in front of a Judge and get them reinstated. Therefore, you don’t want to wait until this happens to go searching for an attorney. That is all the more reason why meeting with an attorney as early as possible is to the employee’s advantage.
Please visit our website, as well as our sections on workers compensation law and frequently asked questions pages, for more information. Or, feel free to call us any time at (978) 531-7401, for a free consultation.