Am I taking any risks by representing myself in a workers’ compensation claim?

If you’ve been injured in a work-related accident, you may find yourself wondering if it’s really necessary to hire an attorney. The answer to this question depends upon the circumstances of your case, but most workers will find that having someone to advocate for their right to compensation helps them to receive the benefits they need to move forward with their lives.

When Is It Possible to Represent Myself in a Workers’ Compensation Claim?

You are not legally required to have an attorney to receive workers’ compensation benefits. In fact, some cases can be easily settled without an attorney. You can comfortably represent yourself if your case meets all of the following criteria:

  • Your employer agrees with your claim that your injury is work-related.
  • The insurance company is promptly responding to your request for benefits.
  • Your injury is minor, such as a sprained ankle or small cut requiring just a few stitches.
  • You missed little or no work due to your injury.
  • You have no pre-existing medical conditions that could complicate your case.

When Do I Need to Protect Myself by Hiring an Attorney?

Hiring a workers’ compensation attorney to represent your interests is essential if your cases meets any of the following criteria:

  • Your employer denies that your injury is work-related.
  • Your benefits are being delayed by the insurance company.
  • Your employer has attempted to retaliate against you for filing a claim.
  • You’ve missed several weeks of work and are worried about making ends meet due to the resulting drop in income.
  • Your injuries are serious enough to result in a permanent partial or total disability.
  • You’ve received a settlement offer that only covers part of your medical expenses.
  • You disagree with your physician’s assessment of the severity of your injury.
  • You have a pre-existing condition that has complicated your treatment.
  • You’re also receiving Social Security disability benefits and/or Medicare.

You may also have a potential third-party claim, such as a personal injury suit related to a motor vehicle accident that occurred while you were driving a company vehicle.

What Services Can an Attorney Provide?

Some of the services a skilled workers’ compensation attorney can provide include:

  • Identifying the worth of your case based on the severity of your injuries and your future earning potential.
  • Getting the right medical evidence to support your case,
  • Finding vocational experts who can testify about the physical requirements of your job or what type of work you can be expected to perform given the nature of your injuries.
  • Structuring a settlement so as not jeopardize Social Security disability or Medicare benefits.
  • Negotiating with the insurance company on your behalf.
  • Monitoring the progress of your claim so you’re free to focus on recovering from your injuries

It is vital to remember that the workers’ compensation system no longer serves as an adequate safety net for injured workers. In many cases, the law favors employers and their insurance companies. Without an advocate on your side, you risk having your claim unfairly denied or being offered less than what you truly deserve.

Can I Afford to Hire a Workers’ Compensation Attorney?

If you’re currently unable to work and watching your medical bills pile up, it’s understandable to be anxious about adding to your financial burden. However, workers' compensation cases are handled by attorneys on a contingency fee basis. In other words, the attorney will get a percentage of what he or she gets for you. Any attorney you hire to handle your Georgia workers' compensation claim can charge you 25% of what they recover on your behalf. Your attorney will not receive any portion of benefits that are already being voluntarily paid by the insurer.  The attorney only gets paid this percentage on benefits or a settlement that he or she gets for you that you were not able to obtain on your own. There is no upfront cost, and if your attorney doesn't get you a settlement or any additional benefits, there’s no fee.

How Do I Get Started with My Case?

If you’re having trouble getting your employer and their insurer to pay benefits following a work-related injury, Rechtman & Spevak’s attorneys can help. Call today to schedule a free, no-obligation initial case review.