How to Find Reputable Workers’ Compensation Lawyers in Michigan
Legally Reviewed and Edited by: Terry Cochran
Michigan workers who have been injured on the job and need to file for workers’ compensation benefits may wonder how to find a lawyer experienced in this area. It can be difficult to know where to start when you’ve been hurt at work and now need legal advice. You may be unsure about what your rights are or how the entire process works.
If you’ve suffered workplace injuries, it’s important that you speak with a qualified attorney right away so they can help protect your legal rights and ensure you get all the benefits due to you under Michigan law.
Workers’ compensation lawyers are specifically trained in reviewing these cases and providing representation for injured workers through the legal process of filing an injury claim with their employer’s insurance company.
The Workers’ Compensation Filing Process
The Michigan Workers’ Disability Compensation Act mandates that most companies carry workers’ compensation insurance. All public employers in Michigan are also required to carry coverage. The compensation you are entitled to starts on the first day that you work. If you get sick or injured at work, you have a right to workers’ compensation. The benefits typically equal 80% of the employee’s average weekly salary before the injury or illness.
How to File for Workers’ Compensation in Michigan
According to the Michigan Workers’ Disability Compensation Act, you must notify your employer within 90 days of the injury or upon knowledge of a disability that happened while working, but your lawyer will tell you to notify your employer of your injury or disability as soon as possible. Either you or your employer must file a workers’ compensation claim with the Workers’ Compensation Agency.
For injuries or illnesses that are projected to last longer than a week, your employer should file an Employers’ Basic Report of Injury (Form 100). All parties involved in the claim process must have access to this information, including the employer’s insurance company, the Workers’ Compensation Agency, or a third-party administrator if one is appointed.
The Benefits of Workers’ Compensation
In most cases, medical benefits should begin as soon as possible after an accident. For the first 28 days of medical treatment, your employer is allowed to choose the doctor you receive treatment from. If you notify your employer and insurance company in writing, then after the 28 days end, you have the freedom to select your own doctor. You do not need permission from your insurance company or employer to receive hospital care if the treatment is reasonable and necessary.
You may also be eligible for vocational rehabilitation benefits if you request them or if the Workers’ Compensation Agency requires it. The scope of vocational rehabilitation is broad, consisting of workplace modifications and education to help you adapt to your impairment.
The Conditions Needed to Claim Workers’ Compensation Benefits
The injury or illness must be related to your job and have caused you to lose wages before applying for benefits. A work-related injury or illness must have occurred as a result of and during work. Even if your accident happened at work, you don’t automatically qualify for benefits. You might not receive benefits if your own negligence caused your injury, such as a willful disregard for safe working practices.
You must also qualify as disabled to receive compensation, meaning your injury or illness limits your ability to do work compatible with your credentials and training. Therefore, you have a loss of wages due to your disability. Your disability must last for at least seven days for you to be eligible for compensation. Your disability status will determine your ability to receive benefits.
What Happens if Your Workers’ Compensation is Denied?
If your claim is denied, you can file an Application for Mediation or Hearing (Form 104) with the Workers’ Compensation Agency. In your application, you must write down detailed information about your injury or disability. You must also provide medical records and the names of witnesses if they no longer work for your employer.
The agency will serve the application to the employer and its insurance company, and the employer will submit a Carrier’s Response Form to the agency. Your claim can be pursued in various ways according to the Michigan Workers’ Disability Compensation Act.
Upon filing the formal application, your case will be referred to the Board of Magistrates. A deposition involves the exchange of medical and other information between the employer and the employee. Doctors and vocational experts can be expected to testify as well.
The case can be settled through mediation, where the parties present their arguments informally in front of a workers’ compensation magistrate or another individual. Mediation or any other stage of the legal process may be used to reach a consensus, avoiding the uncertainty of a magistrate’s decision.
As part of the settlement, the employer or its workers’ compensation insurance company agrees to pay the employee a single lump sum and release the employee from further liabilities. Settlement conditions sometimes exclude medical costs.
When mediation doesn’t resolve the case, a different magistrate may hear the case. A magistrate can set up a hearing in which the worker and any other witnesses have an opportunity to testify live. The magistrate will decide if the claim is eligible for compensation after reviewing the depositions and medical records. If either party disagrees with the ruling, you can appeal it to the Appellate Commission.
In light of the limited review powers of the Appellate Commission, they must review the magistrate’s findings and must approve them if they are backed by sufficient evidence.
In addition, the Court of Appeals and Supreme Court can hear further appeals, but their review standards are more stringent. Final decisions are binding on all parties involved.
When an injured worker has legal representation, they are better prepared to handle the appeals process and the employer or insurance company and their lawyers who are experienced with workers’ compensation laws. For that reason, you should consult an experienced workers’ compensation attorney before filing a formal workers’ compensation claim to get the best possible outcome.
What Should I Look for in a Workers’ Compensation Lawyer?
The claims process and dealing with the employer’s insurance company can be just as frustrating as getting injured or sick on the job. Regarding workers’ compensation benefits, it’s challenging to know what you’re entitled to, so those who don’t have legal counsel are easy targets for insurance companies looking to settle for a low amount.
Workers’ compensation lawyers know your legal rights, the workers’ compensation system and help you understand the workers’ compensation claim process so you can get the maximum benefits.
Get Referrals from Friends and Family
To begin the selection process, referrals from family, friends, or coworkers are the best ways to find a workers’ compensation attorney since they tend to lead to more experienced lawyers than those found in a quick web search. An experienced lawyer handling workers’ compensation claims has a long list of satisfied clients, including your friends and family.
Check Out Their Online Reputation
You can investigate a potential law firm’s reputation by looking at its online presence. The Michigan Bar Association offers information about local law firms, attorneys, and their disciplinary histories.
You can also check out the websites of local law firms. If you find a website has helpful and informative content, it shows the law firm’s commitment to educating and finding potential clients online. An excellent website for a law firm should contain answers to many workers’ compensation questions and detailed information about a workers’ compensation lawyer’s previous experience.
Websites don’t always reveal the whole picture, but a well-designed site indicates that your potential law firm is legitimate, diligent, and wants to provide good service to its clients.
Ask About Their Experience in Workers Compensation Law
Many law firms offer free initial consultations to come in and discuss your case. Once you have a shortlist of potential attorneys, make sure you schedule consultations with a few firms that have a successful track record to learn more about them. You are more likely to find the right fit when you meet in person or over a video call with a lawyer, even if that lawyer has an excellent law firm website with glowing success stories and results of financial compensation.
When you’re interviewing for a workers’ compensation claims lawyer, it’s essential to ask questions. Ensure that the potential lawyer is experienced with workers’ compensation cases before agreeing to work with them. The potential lawyer should be able to answer these questions about their experience with workers’ compensation cases in your consultation. You can ask:
- How much experience does the firm have with workers’ compensation law? You can find out more if they have other practice areas aside from workers’ compensation.
- Does the lawyer have any ideas about your case’s strong and weak points? They should be able to decide if you have the right to pursue a workers’ compensation claim.
- Can they explain the workers’ compensation legal process easily to someone outside of the legal industry?
- If you were to call to check in on the status of your case, would the attorney personally handle it, or would assistants and paralegals handle most of the work?
- Do they have any references from previous clients whose cases were similar to yours?
Determine if a Workers’ Compensation Lawyer is Right for You
Immediately after your consultation, let your intuition and gut feelings guide you. A great attorney should have displayed the highest level of professionalism, been personable, and was considerate of your time and workplace injuries.
A workers’ compensation lawyer and the rest of their staff should also possess patience, kindness, and responsiveness. Keeping your options open will allow you to find the best workers’ compensation lawyer for your case before you make a final choice.
Work With Skilled Workers’ Compensation Lawyers
The workers’ compensation claim filing process in Michigan can be complicated and lengthy. Injured workers in Michigan need to know their legal rights under the Michigan Workers’ Disability Compensation Act and pursue financial compensation to help cover any medical expenses. It’s important to know what steps you need to take if your workers’ compensation claim is denied or if your case goes to court. You don’t want to go through this alone, so it’s time to find yourself an experienced workers’ compensation attorney who will work with you every step of the way.
At the law firm of Cochran, Kroll, & Associates, P.C., we are more than happy to answer your questions so that you can make informed decisions on how best to move forward with your workers’ compensation claim. If you’re dealing with these issues or have other concerns related to workplace injuries, give us a call at 1-866-MICH-LAW or fill out our free consultation form online.
I was threatened with termination if I filed for workers’ compensation. Is it possible to sue my employer?
Under the Michigan Workers’ Disability Compensation Act, employers cannot retaliate against employees who file for workers’ compensation after suffering a work-related injury. If your employer tries to do so by threatening you or cutting your pay, you must contact an attorney right away.
Can my employer be held liable for pain and suffering?
Injured workers in Michigan cannot sue their employers for anything other than what is covered by workers’ compensation. If the injury was caused by a defective product or another person who is not a coworker, you could try to get compensation for non-economic damages like pain and suffering by suing a third party.
Do I qualify for both social security disability and workers’ compensation benefits?
If you are injured as a worker, you can receive social security disability and workers’ compensation. Workers’ compensation programs are state programs, but social security disability is offered by the federal government.
Disclaimer : The information provided is general and not for legal advice. The blogs are not intended to provide legal counsel and no attorney-client relationship is created nor intended.