Hiring a Compensation Lawyer
If you are a worker and have sustained an injury at work, you will need legal advice on the steps to be taken to claim your compensation. If your injury isn’t very serious and you haven’t missed a lot of working days, it doesn’t call for legal intervention. However, if your injury is serious enough to make you bed ridden or debilitating in nature, you need to hire a compensation lawyer.
Why Do I Need a Compensation Lawyer?
Understanding Benefits and Rights
Insurance agencies have incentives that are designed to minimise compensation claims. You do not want to get stuck in the rigmarole of documents and rules that you can’t understand and denied your rightful claim.
Usually in cases of accidents at work, claims administrators will shoot down requests by pointing out that the injury did not happen at work or it was due to your own negligence. It is best to seek the assistance of a compensation lawyer, to estimate your claim value and get your employer to pay you for the injury or damage you have sustained.
Tackling Claims Administrators
Claims administrators are hired to protect the interests of employers. Claims administrators can ask you questions related to your injury. However, you will have to be careful about what you to speak to them as any conflicting statement can be used against you and hamper your claim. It’s advisable that you discuss your case with your lawyer before you speak to the claims administrator. It would be best that you let your lawyer deal with the claims administrator.
You must understand that if you have sustained an injury it does not matter whose negligence it was – yours, your employer’s or someone else’s – you are entitled to compensation. However, if you have indulged in wrongful behaviour such as starting a fight or causing harm to yourself or others in an inebriated state, your case doesn’t hold much water.
Preparing Medical Documents
Besides helping you understand your rights and benefits, your lawyer can help you prepare your medical documents too. Be open and honest with your doctor during your medical examination. Tell your doctor clearly about the nature of your injury, about how you have sustained it and how it is affecting your work life. You would want to consult your lawyer in case you have doubts if your injury is eligible for claims and how you should position your request.
What Benefits Do I Receive?
A compensation lawyer can help you understand the benefits that come under the workers’ compensation. In case of an injury sustained at work, your organisation is liable to pay you medical bills for the treatment post scrutiny. If you have been out of work for more than three days because of the injury, you can also claim for temporary disability compensation.
If the injury has led to a permanent damage, you can claim for permanent disability compensation. In case of death, the family of the deceased is entitled to receive compensation in the form of money or a job opportunity for a family member. You can get more clarity on the benefits you can receive by consulting your compensation lawyer.
Will My Case Go to Court?
Workers’ compensation has been designed so that such cases are settled out of court, when the injury is sustained either due to your or your employer’s fault. However, in case the injury is because of a third party, there is a scope for a lawsuit. However, you need to discuss this in detail with your lawyer to understand how valid your case will stand in court.
When Will I Receive My Compensation?
Do not rush to settle your compensation if you have sustained a permanent injury. Understand your doctor’s diagnosis and how confident he is regarding your injury. Do keep your lawyer in the loop. As long as your doctor is confident about the validity of your injury qualifying for compensation, you need not worry. Understand all the facts from your physician and then consult your lawyer to put a figure to your compensation amount.
In case of a temporary disability, see if you can settle for a compensation amount. In case your employer offers you a job that allows you to function within your physical limitations, it would be advisable to take the job and get back to work as soon as you can.
How to Find a Compensation Lawyer
Finding a compensation lawyer is not a difficult task. You can either search online for a good compensation lawyer or ask around for references from friends and family.
1. Search Online: Most lawyers post their work profiles and contact details online these days. You can look for compensation lawyers near you. While you do so, ensure you have gone through their profiles, their websites and the reviews posted against their names thoroughly to make an informed decision. Make a list of the lawyers you would like to consult regarding your case and set up a meeting with them. A personal interview with the lawyer will help you decide better on who you need to hire for the job.
2. Ask for References: If you know someone who has dealt with a similar situation, you can reach out to them for contacts of a good compensation lawyer. You can spread the word within your network and ask your family and friends to help you. In case you receive several references, make sure you set up a meeting with each one to understand the person and his work profile better.
3. Reach out to the Local Bar Council: If you haven’t been successful in sourcing contacts from within your social circle, reach out to the local bar council. You can find local lawyers near you who can help you in filing for compensation with the help of the council.
Meeting the Lawyer
Meeting the lawyer in person is an extremely important step. The lawyer you hire will represent you at all times, be it at a meeting with your claims administrator or your employer. Hence, it is critical that you hire a person who understands you well enough. It is important that you find someone you are comfortable with.
Before you meet the lawyer, make sure you have researched his or her background thoroughly. Do read the reviews that you can find online. Visit their website and understand their experience level. There are a few things that you would like to keep in mind before hiring a compensation lawyer.
An experienced lawyer can help you foresee challenges. He can advise on the steps you need to take to get your claim settled successfully. He can help you prepare your documents far more quickly. It is always beneficial to have someone who knows the ropes well by your side.
Understand how skilful your lawyer is. Check for his qualifications and certifications to understand how skilled and trained the lawyer is. The more skilled the lawyer is, the more efficiently he will handle your case. Also, he will save you from the unnecessary “heartache” that comes along with such cases.
Location is an important factor. Try finding the best lawyer within your neighbourhood. With your injury, you do not want to travel to a location that is far off. Instead, find a lawyer who practices close to your residence and save time on commuting.
Preparing For the Meeting
When you have finally set up a meeting with the lawyers you want to consult, you should prepare all documents and information you would like to share with them. Most lawyers offer free consultations initially. Before you meet the lawyer, gather all your information. During your meeting your lawyer would want to know basic details of your case. He will ask you about your date of hiring, the nature of your work, how your injury happened, how you intimated your employer about the injury, details of your medical treatment etc.
You should also carry the following documents with you for your meeting:
- Any report that details the accident
- Your doctor’s report
- Medical prescriptions and bills
- Names and detail of witnesses of the accident
- Any correspondence your have received from your employer
- Your employers contact details and address
What Should I Ask My Compensation Lawyer?
The purpose of your meeting with the lawyers is to gather information and to get your more clarity. This helps you decide if you want to hire a certain lawyer or not. To do this, you must ask all the right questions to your lawyer. If you are wondering what you should ask during your meeting, here are a few pointers:
1. How Much Experience Do You Have?
You want someone specialising in workers’ compensation to handle your case. Ask the lawyer clearly on how much of his practice he dedicates to cases similar to yours. A lawyer with a minimum of 5 years of experience should be good enough to handle your case.
2. Have You Handled Cases Similar to Mine?
Each case is unique and different. However, experienced lawyers are able to spot patterns. This helps them decide the approach they want to take. A lawyer who knows clearly the direction they want to take can save you time and money.
3. Will You Handle My Case?
A lot of times, senior lawyers hand down their cases to their associates. To avoid surprises and confusions, make sure you ask your lawyer this question. This does not mean that you doubt the capability of the associate. It is only avoid any kind of confusion.
4. What Do You Make of My Case?
Understand realistically what you should expect from your case. Discuss in detail with your lawyer on what he expects the outcome to be realistically. Be wary of lawyers who promise you unrealistic outcomes.
5. What Should I Do If I am Offered a Different Responsibility by My Employer?
Discuss with your lawyer the possibility of your employer offering you a different responsibility. You should not compromise on the compensation claim. You are entitled to be compensated for your injuries in spite of an alternative responsibility. Discuss with the lawyer to understand his recommendation.
6. How Should I Pay You?
Most compensation lawyers work on a contingency basis. This means they will charge you a certain percentage from your compensation amount. There are caps on the percentage the lawyer charges in some places. Understand from your lawyer his fee structure.
7. How Will You Handle Additional Costs?
There are several other costs involved in the case, besides the lawyer’s fees. Your lawyer will need to spend towards documentation, preparing witnesses etc. Understand how he will bill you these costs. Do you need to pay for these additional costs upfront? Or can you reimburse the lawyer later?
These questions will help find out the information you need most to make your decision. You will get clarity on the skill and experience level of the lawyer, the expected outcomes from his perspective and an outline of the expenditure involved. After your conversation with all your shortlisted lawyers, you can take a decision on who you want to hire for your case.
Handling a workers’ compensation claim can be a tough task on your own. There are several legal and technical hurdles that you might have to face if you decide to go solo. Getting an expert to help you is the most advisable option.
So go ahead and meet the lawyers you have shortlisted. Keep your documents and your questions ready. Make the most of your meetings with the shortlisted candidates and ensure you have absolute clarity after the meeting.
Sustaining an injury and then following up on a workers’ compensation with your employer can be tiring emotionally and physically. On top of it, you have financial expenditure that needs to be taken care of at a time when you are off work. A professional can help you tide over this situation. Carefully choose your lawyer!