What Does a Workers’ Compensation Attorney Do?
Legally Reviewed and Edited by: Terry Cochran
Suffering an injury or medical condition as a result of conditions or an incident in your workplace can have devastating consequences. Even if any debilitation is only short term, there are still worries over money and medical bills. And if you need to be absent from work for an extended period or are unable to return to work, then those worries are compounded.
In the event, any of these circumstances occur, you need to know precisely what your rights are and what you need to do if you are considering filing a claim.
An Attorney’s Duties Overall
An attorney is a professional legal representative who advises clients on their rights according to both state and federal law, and who then represent those clients in either civil or criminal matters.
Representation initially takes the form of guidance on the relevant matters, then the preparation of documents or appearing at meetings on behalf of their client. Depending on how the early stages of representation proceed, then your workers’ comp lawyer may later appear in court to put forward and plead the client’s case.
Workers’ Compensation Attorney Fees
As is the case with many attorneys working in the field of workers compensation claims, Cochran, Kroll & Associates, P.C., operate on what is known as a contingency fee agreement. This means that our law firm only receives payment when your claim is successful. If your claim is unsuccessful, you owe us nothing.
Under Michigan law, employers must have workers’ compensation insurance. This insurance covers wage loss, medical costs, and any rehabilitation benefits when an employee is injured or becomes ill at work, no matter which party is at fault.
However, this insurance entitlement precludes you from suing your employer except in certain circumstances. The law has set benefits and timelines in place.
When workers’ compensation claims are denied, or when you disagree with the insurance company, then a compensation attorney can represent you at mediation or trial.
Developing Medical, Vocational, and Other Evidence
When pursuing workers’ compensation claims, your compensation attorney can seek to collect several forms of evidence to support your case.
- Medical evidence can include your medical records, testimony from your own or an independent physician, and possibly arranging treatment with a specific medical expert.
- Statements or testimony from friends and family as to your normal activities and abilities.
- Any previous evidence that points to a poor safety record or lack of relevant training at your workplace.
- Vocational evidence, such as what your job requires in terms of physical ability and whether any expectations are unreasonable.
Negotiating and Structuring Settlement Agreements
If you are an injured worker and are offered a settlement and you sign it without legal advice, it is difficult to undo that agreement. Good workers comp attorneys can help you negotiate with the insurance company or can assist you in taking the matter to a hearing or trial.
Settlements can come in either lump sum form or as structured payments. Lump sum payments can be complicated and may mean you lose out in the long-term, both in terms of basic financial provision and in terms of any future medical or rehabilitation expenses.
Representing You in a Workers’ Comp Hearing or Trial
A good compensation attorney will represent all your interests. This includes negotiations with the insurance company through to presenting your case at a hearing or trial. In the initial stages of this process, your attorney will collect any relevant evidence, take depositions from witnesses who can support your case, and write any required motions or petitions to do with your case.
The process may then move to a hearing or trial. If so, your compensation attorney will present your arguments as to entitlement of benefits, question witnesses, and object to anything raised by the insurance company that they feel is irrelevant or misleading.
Advising You on Third-Party Claims and Other Potential Benefits
Michigan workers’ compensation laws do allow for claims against third parties. For example, if faulty machinery was to blame for your injury, then you have the right to pursue a claim against the manufacturer of that machinery. If that claim is successful, then you may need to pay a portion of your compensation to your employer or their insurance company as recompense for any benefits you have received.
When to Hire a Lawyer
In some cases, the process of filing a claim is straightforward, and you will not need a lawyer. In many other cases, the process can be complicated, or there can be other avenues to pursue a claim.
As Cochran, Kroll & Associates, P.C., offers a free initial consultation, then it is worth arranging an appointment with us, so you are clear on what options are open to you.
Reasons Why You Need a Lawyer for Your Workers’ Compensation Claim
If your claim is denied, or if you feel the offer made is not fair, then it makes sense to hire a lawyer to support you in a hearing or trial. If the insurance company disputes anything regarding your condition or if they are delaying payments that were meant to pay for medical treatment, then a workers’ comp lawyer will be able to assist. And if there is third-party negligence, then you will require an attorney to sue the negligent party.
Can You Receive Social Security Disability and Workers’ Compensation Benefits at the Same Time?
If you are an injured worker who is eligible for both, then you can receive both. Social security disability is a federal program, while workers’ compensation is a state program.
Workers’ Compensation Attorneys Can Help if Your Claim is Denied
If your claim is denied, then you have two years from the date of the original injury to pursue a claim or to appeal against the decision. The first stage of this process is a mediation hearing. If mediation does not resolve the dispute, then it moves to a trial hearing in front of a judge who specializes in workers’ compensation laws.
How Does a Workers’ Compensation Lawsuit Work?
If you are an injured worker as a result of an incident or conditions at your workplace, then under Michigan law, you are covered by workers’ employment insurance. Any settlement offered is meant to cover a percentage of lost salary, any medical bills incurred, and a temporary period of disability.
If the insurance company does not dispute the claim, they will make either a structured or one-off payment offer. If you dispute the settlement offered, then your compensation attorney can progress the claim to mediation and then to trial.
Signs That Your Workers’ Compensation Lawyer Is Doing a Bad Job
If you have engaged an attorney to work on your workers’ compensation claim, there are several signs that they may be performing inadequately.
- Lack of knowledge about your case when you call them.
- No notification or preparation for important stages of your case.
- Not returning calls you make to office.
- Advising you to take what seems like a low offer.
- Your structured payments stop suddenly.
Finding the Best Workers’ Compensation Attorney Near You
If you are looking for a good compensation attorney or looking to replace one, then you want a lawyer who is experienced in workers’ compensation laws. Cochran, Kroll & Associates, P.C. offers a free initial consultation. Browse our website to view our background, experience, and case results.
If you have experienced any illness or injury due to negligence or otherwise at your workplace, then you want an experienced workers’ compensation attorney in your corner. The team at Cochran, Kroll & Associates, P.C. have extensive experience in this field. One of our senior partners, Eileen Kroll, is both a licensed attorney and an experienced registered nurse.
Eileen’s medical experience brings an expert angle to any case involving medical matters as she can identify areas where your medical treatment has been lacking or where it can be improved.
We offer a free initial consultation so we can advise you on how best to progress your claim. Please call us on 866-MICH-LAW to arrange an appointment.
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.