- The Law is Complicated
Worker’s Compensation law is highly technical. You typically must rely on case and statutory law throughout an entire claim. A solid claim can quickly unravel without the help of a trained attorney. Even experienced lawyers typically do not represent themselves in court in many cases. Attorneys have the education and are trained to use the law to their client’s advantage and may know new case law that many non-lawyers would not know about.
- Not Having A Lawyer May Cost You More
Imagine this common scenario: You try to handle your claim on your own. You think everything is going as it should. A Wage Order is issued, and the amount looks low, but you do not think too much about it. Time passes and that Wage Order goes final and binding. You let the claims manager know the wage order and time loss rate is wrong, but he/she says there is nothing he/she can do. You reach out to an attorney and they tell you that you should be getting at least $1,000 more a month, but because you did not hire an attorney sooner, there is nothing they can do to fix it.
Another common scenario is you try to get a condition added on your claim so that you can get treatment for it. The Department denies adding it to the claim after you go to an Independent Medical Examination and the doctor tells the Department that your condition is not related to your industrial injury. Time passes and now that denial of the condition is final and binding. You finally speak with an attorney and they tell you that you had a strong case to fight it but because it is final and binding, the Department will not pay for your surgery you need, and you must now cover it out of pocket.
These scenarios are common occurrences in worker’s compensation claims. Most worker’s compensation attorneys work on a contingency basis meaning they do not get paid unless you get paid. And what they get paid is typically a small percentage of any time loss you may be receiving. This small percentage is not worth the damaging and lasting repercussions that could happen on your claim when you try to do it yourself.
- They Have Knowledge You Need for Your Claim
Most worker’s compensation attorneys have been working in this specific part of the legal field for quite some time and if they have not, they are working in a firm with others who have. Because of this, they have knowledge about how the Department of Labor and Industries works which include: ways to get what they need, how to handle claims managers, how to work with vocational counselors, what forms need to be submitted to the Department, and can predict how the claim is likely going to go in the Department’s hands. Most worker’s compensation attorneys have connections throughout the country who can help find you the best doctors to go to that not only will help your claim but will provide quality treatment.
- Lawyers Know How to Challenge Evidence
When you challenge an issue in your claim and it ends up at the Board of Industrial Insurance Appeals, you must treat this as if you are in Superior Court. The procedures and evidence rules apply the same in both venues. This means you need to know the rules of evidence and the procedures on how to file documents and potentially argue motions – or file them yourself!
Without the proper legal training, you may not know whether a key piece of evidence against you was improperly obtained, submitted, or that the testimony of a witness contradicts an earlier statement and how to bring that up during the proceeding properly. You may not know what you can and cannot object to during the Department witness’s testimony and could allow information into your case that could be detrimental.
- It Relieves Some of Your Stress
Most times, hiring a worker’s compensation attorney will relieve a large portion of the stress on you regarding your claim. Your attorney and their office will handle most things so that you can focus on your treatment and getting better or going to work or school. Your attorney will make moves on your case that is in the best interest of you and will only communicate with you to either update you on what is going on, ask you questions, or ask you to do something that will further your claim along (i.e. fill out a form, see a certain specialist, get an appointment to speak with a doctor about an issue). A lot of our clients mention how relieving it is knowing we are fighting for them and they can focus on themselves and their injuries.