You get hurt on the job: What should you do, and when should you contact an attorney?
Chain | Cohn | Stiles work injury attorney Jim Yoro explains in a new video (below) four reasons when it’s important to contact a lawyer after you’ve been injured at work. We also share some bonus reasons you may want to contact a workers’ compensation attorney after being injured on the job.
Hiring an attorney to handle your work injury claim costs nothing up front, and it gives you the best chance to receive a fair settlement or award for your injuries. But how do you know you actually need an attorney? Here are four reasons when it’s important to contact a lawyer after you’ve been injured at work:
1) If you think your employer has not filed a claim with their insurance company, you should contact a work injury lawyer. The worker’s compensation system in California has specific requirements that California employers and insurance companies must comply with when providing benefits to injured workers, and your employer is required to report your injury to its workers’ compensation insurance company. The employer must also give the injured employee a Workers’ Compensation Claim Form (DWC-1) to complete. If your employer refuses to report an injury, that is a red flag. They may be worried about safety violations, not having the right insurance, or a other potential issues.
2) If you expect to be out of work due to your injury, you should contact a work injury attorney. If you suffer permanent disability, either partial or total, that will prevent you from ever fully returning to work, insurance companies are more likely to contest such claims because they are the most expensive. Furthermore, if you have been released to work, but you can only do modified or alternative work, and your employer does not provide you a position that meets your restrictions, you may be entitled to additional benefits to help you get back to work. These benefits are called “supplemental job displacement benefits.” They are designed to help you get some training so you can go into a different line of work. If your employer cannot permanently accommodate your new restrictions, then you may be entitled to receive a retraining voucher. If your employers insurance company is refusing to provide you this voucher or has provided work that does not meet your restrictions or seems unreasonable, it is time to call in a workers’ compensation lawyer.
3) If you’re going to need medical treatment, you should contact an attorney. Your medical issues can prevent you from returning to your job, limit what you can do at work, or keep you from performing any work at all. If you’ve suffered permanent disability — whether partial or total — you may be entitled to payments to make up for your lost wages. These cases can be very expensive for insurance companies, and they’ll often stop at nothing to avoid paying you what you deserve. A knowledgeable workers’ compensation attorney is essential in cases involving permanent injuries or illness.
4) If your employer or their insurance company seems unwilling to help you after an accident or injury at work, you should contact a work accident lawyer. You are entitled to medical care, lost wages, job training, and other benefits under California law if you are hurt on the job. It is supposed to be that straightforward. The most common reason employers deny a claim for benefits is because they do not think an employee was actually hurt at work or that an injury was not caused by something work-related. Employers and workers’ comp insurers also routinely reject legit claims, confident that many workers will fail to appeal.
On the other end, you may NOT need to contact a work injury lawyer if your employer and their insurance company if after you report your injury, the insurance company promptly contact you and starts providing you with benefits you’re entitled to receive under California law.
“If at any point, things start looking different, such as the insurance company is not paying you on time, you’re not getting the medical treatment requested, or there is a problem with getting a release to go back to work, that’s when would be a good idea to contact a lawyer,” says Yoro.
Besides the above, here are a few other reasons you may want to contact an attorney after being injured on the job:
- You were injured because of a third party‘s actions or your employer’s serious negligence. The workers’ comp system was designed to prevent civil lawsuits for work-related injuries. However, you are permitted to sue outside workers’ comp in certain situations, including when someone other than your employer contributed to your injury (such as a negligent driver who hit you while you were driving for work), your employer doesn’t have workers’ comp insurance, or your employer intentionally caused your injury. An experienced lawyer will be able to explain how the law applies to your situation.
- If you plan to apply for Social Security Disability benefits, and if your settlement isn’t structured properly, your workers’ comp benefits could significantly lower Social Security disability payments. An experienced attorney will understand how to draft your settlement agreement to minimize or eliminate this offset.
- If you are injured at work or while doing any activity that benefits your employer, and you are considered an employee under California law, then you should be getting workers’ compensation benefits.
- If your boss retaliates against you for filing a workers’ comp claim, including firing you, demoting you, cutting your hours, reducing your pay, or discriminating, contact an attorney immediately to protect your legal rights. You should never be terminated by your employer just because you were injured on the job or because you have requested workers’ compensation benefits.
- If you are having trouble communicating with the employer’s doctor, or the doctor does not seem to care about your well-being as much as your family physician might. If you want to make a change in your medical care, a workers’ compensation lawyer can be a great asset. He or she can provide helpful information about who would be the best person to use for your unique health situation and type of injury.
- If you have permanent disability because of your work injury, your employer or their insurance company may offer to settle your claim. However, this settlement may not account for the full value of your disability. An attorney will be able to tell you about what the average workers’ compensation settlement might be for a case like yours.
- Your employer’s settlement offer doesn’t cover all your lost wages or medical bills. If you’re not sure a settlement offer is good enough, don’t rely on the workers’ compensation judge to make sure that you’re getting a fair deal. Although workers’ comp settlements must have judicial approval, judges will usually sign off on any agreement as long as it’s not grossly unfair. If you really want someone to get you the best settlement possible, call an attorney.
In all, the average injured worker does not understand the workers’ compensation system. That means that you might not know how much money you are supposed to get after a work injury. Some people may not realize that they are supposed to get benefits at all. Many workers put a lot of trust in their employer or its insurance company and count on them to tell the worker what they should and should not do and how much money they should get. This trust is often misplaced, however.
The accident, injury and workers’ compensation law firm Chain | Cohn | Stiles is home to two lawyers who are state certified as specialists in workers’ compensation law, awarded to legal professionals who have gone beyond the standard licensing requirements. In fact, Chain | Cohn | Stiles is the only plaintiff’s law firm in Kern County that has two attorneys who are state certified as specialists in workers’ compensation. Learn more about Jim Yoro and Beatriz Trejo at chainlaw.com.
If you or someone you know is injured in an accident at the fault of someone else, or injured on the job no matter whose fault it is, contact the attorneys at Chain | Cohn | Stiles by calling (661) 323-4000, or fill out a free consultation form at chainlaw.com.