Get the help you need to receive the compensation you deserve
Written by: Enjuris Editors
The process for receiving workers’ compensation in Georgia is often long and complicated. Learn what situations you may face and why you need an attorney to handle your claim.
When you’re injured in an accident at work, a workers’ compensation claim is often your best option to recover financial reimbursement. In short, the more severe your accident or the more complicated your claim, the more you need to hire an experienced workers’ comp attorney. This article provides an overview for why you need a top Georgia attorney who is a good fit for your case.
When a workers’ comp attorney is NOT necessary
Before you read any further, it’s important to note that not every work accident requires an attorney. Just as a fender bender doesn’t typically require the services of a personal injury attorney, minor accidents can be handled without a lawyer.
Your company’s insurance company is likely to provide fair and reasonable compensation in the following situations:
Your injury was minor, such as a sprain or minor laceration.
There was no permanent damage.
Your injury healed properly.
You didn’t need to miss a lot of work.
Your boss fully admitted that the injury happened at work.
Your injury can’t be blamed on something else, such as a pre-existing health condition.
If any of the above situations apply to you and the settlement from your employer’s insurance company fully covered your medical bills and other expenses, then a workers’ compensation lawyer is probably unnecessary.
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8 reasons why you need a workers’ comp attorney
The decision to hire a workers’ comp attorney is a personal one. You may have one of the minor accidents listed above, but still feel as though you need a lawyer. On the flip side, there are many workplace accidents where an attorney is simply required for you to receive compensation.
Below is a list of some of the most critical workers’ comp claims that need an attorney to be successful:
1. You were fired as a result of your workers’ comp claim.
Though many scenarios require an attorney, this is perhaps most important. Your boss CANNOT fire you as a result of a workers’ comp claim. It would be employment discrimination and would open your case up to a much bigger lawsuit. So if you were punished, demoted or fired for a non-fraudulent workers’ comp claim, you need to speak with an attorney as soon as possible.
2. You have a pre-existing condition.
When you have a pre-existing medical condition that becomes worse as a result of a workplace accident or simply becomes aggravated, many insurance companies will be quick to minimize or decline your workers’ comp claim. These claims are often an uphill battle, but not impossible to win. An experienced workers’ comp attorney will help you present all the necessary medical and accident information to show that your health was affected by the workplace accident and that you deserve compensation.
3. Your claim was denied.
It may be the unfortunate truth that your injury doesn’t qualify you for workers’ comp. You may need to accept that your claim was denied and try to heal in other ways. Nevertheless, if your claim was denied, we encourage you to speak with a workers’ comp attorney to see if your claim was handled fairly or if there’s another option for you to pursue.
4. You have permanent damage and your ability to work is limited.
If your injury is permanent and/or you’re unable to return to your position, you may be entitled to a large amount of compensation. In some cases, the inability to return to a similar employment position allows you to receive weekly disability compensation. Insurance companies want to avoid this hefty cost as much as possible, so you need an attorney to make sure you receive all that you’re eligible for.
5. You intend to seek social security disability benefits.
If you previously received government benefits or Social Security disability or if you plan to pursue these options, you need to speak with a workers’ comp lawyer. Workers’ comp claims may reduce your Social Security payments, so you need an attorney to help you with the paperwork and assist you in deciding which route to pursue for compensation.
6. Your claim is being stalled or not processed.
Workers’ comp claims have specific deadlines and procedures that need to be followed in order for you to recover compensation. If your boss seems to be stalling or you haven’t heard from the insurance company, there may be some foul play trying to prevent you from recovering. Even without a wrongdoing on their part, an attorney will pay attention to the deadlines and ensure that your employer is doing their part in order for you to recover what you deserve.
7. Your injury is in dispute.
There are many ways your injury could be in dispute. Perhaps the insurance company will only pay for one form of treatment. Maybe emotional recovery isn’t included in the settlement. Perhaps your boss expected you to return to work earlier than your condition allowed. Whatever the problem, if you find that you aren’t being compensated to the full extent of your injury, you need an attorney to help you document and present your injuries.
Enjuris tip: For evidence purposes and your own records, Enjuris provides a post-accident form for you to document how you are feeling.
8. Your claim requires a hearing.
If you were told that your claim will be presented in a hearing, or if a legal proceeding such as an arbitration or mediation is taking place, then you need an attorney. It’s important to put you on the same footing as your employer, so having someone with legal training will best protect your interests in these proceedings.
How much does hiring a GA workers’ comp attorney cost?
Like most civil law attorneys, a workers’ comp lawyer takes a lump sum from your settlement. In most cases, you only pay a workers’ comp attorney from the damages you recover when you settle or win. The State Board of Workers’ Compensation in Georgia capped the most a lawyer can charge at 25%. If, for example, you win $100,000 in damages from your claim, your lawyer will receive up to $25,000 of your compensation.
An important reminder, however, is that there are also legal costs. Court documents cost money to file, and your case may require legal assistance such as bringing in expert witnesses and an accident reconstructionist. Be sure to discuss these potential costs when interviewing an attorney, but know that these are also likely to come from your damages.
Enjuris Tip: Remember that the first meeting with a workers’ comp attorney is usually free. Be prepared for this initial meeting by downloading our free resource.
In general, hiring the right attorney is based on two key criteria: work experience and your comfort level with the lawyer. You need to hire an attorney who has handled workers’ comp claims before, preferably in your field of employment. It’s equally important that you find the lawyer who you feel has your best interests at heart and is someone you feel comfortable speaking to.
Enjuris has a related article—How to Hire the Right Personal Injury Attorney in Georgia—and we encourage you to apply the same principles to your search for a workers’ comp lawyer. Additionally, refer to our infographic below to help you prepare for your first meeting with the potential lawyer.
All of the above questions match what you need to ask your potential attorney, so you should bring this sheet to your consultation. When you’re ready to schedule your attorney interview, refer to Enjuris’ directory of Georgia attorneys to find a workers’ comp lawyer near you.
Have questions about your accident and the law? Get answers!