Workers Compensation Claims Lawyer
About Workers Compensation Claims
If you are injured on the job or develop an occupational illness, in most cases it is considered a workers compensation injury that is eligible for a claim with the insurance policy of the company that employs you. It is important to understand that a claim is not a lawsuit, it is a claim. You are not suing your employer. You are making a claim for medical benefits and financial compensation when it is applicable.
Why Should I Get a Workers Compensation Lawyer?
Getting a workers compensation lawyer protects you, your family and your future. The insurance claims adjuster has no personal interest in you. In fact, the insurance companies have many local attorneys that advise those adjusters on a daily basis.
Those same adjusters are the ones that you will see and hear from if you try and handle your claim on your own. You have worked to protect your future, do not let an injury take away everything that you have worked for.
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What Are My Rights?
Workers’ compensation laws vary from state to state. The rights afforded an injured employee vary as well, as do the different legal procedures that ensure those rights. Generally speaking, however, there are a number of legal rights that are common:
- You have the right to file a claim for your injury or illness in workers compensation court or the state industrial court.
- You have the right to see a doctor and to pursue medical treatment.
- If you are released to return to work by your physician, you have the right to return to your job.
- If you are unable to return to work because of your injury or illness, whether permanently or even temporarily, you have the right to some type of disability compensation.
- If you disagree with any decision by your employer, the employer’s insurance company, or the workers’ compensation court, you generally have the right to appeal that decision, and:
- You have the right to be represented by a lawyer throughout the process.
In understanding your rights to act, as an employee it is just as important to understand your right to refuse certain requests or offers. For example, if you are injured and your employer encourages you to use your own health insurance to pay for your medical treatment, you have the right to say, “no.”
1. Immediately Report Your Injury
The first thing you should do after a work injury is immediately report it to your supervisor. Every state requires workers to give notice of a workplace injury by a certain deadline, which varies by state. For Nevada, You must report your injury ‘as soon as practicable, but within 7 days after the accident’.
2. Get Prompt Medical Treatment
You should seek medical treatment as soon as possible after your injury. Prompt medical care can lead to a quicker, fuller recovery. It also serves as important medical evidence in your workers’ comp claim by documenting your accident and describing your injuries and physical restrictions.
3. Obtain a Workers Comp Lawyer
It can be difficult to navigate the workers comp claim system, including when to accept a settlement offer and for how much. A lawyer can properly value your claim, negotiate with the insurance company, and represent you in an appeal, if necessary.
4. Keep Detailed Records
It’s always in your best interest to keep copies of paperwork concerning your workers’ comp claim, including work restrictions, letters or emails from your employer or the insurance company, and completed forms (such as an accident report). While your doctors will create medical records documenting your treatment, work restriction slips are not always put in your medical records. Many of these records are essential for getting your workers’ comp claim approved and paid.
5. Understand Your Workers’ Comp Benefits
Injured workers should understand the available benefits through the workers’ comp system. While each state has its own rules for eligibility and amounts, the following benefits are typically available:
- Temporary disability benefits – paid while you are off work and still recovering from your injury.
- Permanent disability benefits – compensation for lasting physical impairments caused by the injury.
- Medical treatment – reasonable and necessary medical care for your injuries.
Because insurance companies are for-profit businesses, you shouldn’t rely on the insurance adjuster to fully explain your workers’ comp benefits or all of your claim options. A workers compensation lawyer will help guide you through the process and explain all of your available options.
Be Prepared for Your Independent Medical Examinations
Unlike a regular doctor’s appointment, an independent medical examination (IME) does not focus on treating your injury. Instead, the insurance company hires a doctor to perform an examination, review your medical records, and issue a report. This report summarizes the doctor’s opinion on your diagnoses, work restrictions, and the relationship between your injury and your work. Frequently, insurance companies schedule IME’s when they want to terminate or reduce your workers’ comp benefits.
Beware of Surveillance and Private Investigators
If the insurance company questions your credibility, they might hire a private investigator to follow you around. The investigator will watch you at home and in public places hoping to catch you doing something that contradicts your workers’ comp claim. For example, suppose you tell your doctor that you can’t lift more than five pounds. If surveillance footage shows you carrying boxes into your house, the insurance company will use it to argue that you’re lying about your symptoms. If you think you are under surveillance, talk to your workers’ compensation lawyer immediately.