Did you experience an injury on the job and are unable to work or need medical treatment? You may be eligible for worker’s compensation that will help cover lost wages and medical expenses you may have incurred due to this injury.
The worker’s compensation insurance system may be difficult and confusing to navigate on your own. However, with the help of an experienced lawyer, this could be much more manageable.
The knowledge and experience of a worker’s compensation lawyer will greatly benefit the outcome of your claim. When meeting with a worker’s compensation lawyer, the following questions are important to ask.
1. Is Your Practice Devoted to Worker’s Comp Cases and How Much Experience Do You Have?
Be sure the lawyer you choose is a specialist in workers’ compensation and that a significant portion of their practice represents injured workers.
2. Does It Matter Who Was at Fault?
You may be wondering if the workplace accident was your fault, can you still get worker’s comp benefits? For example, you were at fault in a workplace accident by sustaining an injury while not following proper safety precautions.
In general, the worker’s comp system is not fault-based. In other words, unless you were participating in extreme behavior such as being under the influence of alcohol or illegal drugs or starting a fight, or other illegal activity, the fault should not affect the outcome of your injury claim.
3. What Benefits Could My Worker’s Compensation Cover?
As the result of a workplace injury, you are likely entitled to compensation for medical treatment pertaining to that injury. Unfortunately, not all “treatments” are fully covered and may include treatments such as physical therapy or chiropractic care.
Temporary disability is another benefit you may be entitled to, which would cover a part of your lost wages if more than three days of work were missed due to your injury. If your injury is severe and returning to work may be difficult, you may be entitled to permanent disability. In certain situations, other benefits, including death benefits and retraining vouchers, may be available.
4. How Can I Protect My Workers’ Comp Claim?
Unfortunately, several employers, along with their insurance companies, will do what they can to deny or severely limit a worker’s comp claim. This means you will have to protect your work
injury claim by taking a few precautions. These precautions include:
- Reporting your injury to your employer immediately, followed by seeking medical help right away
- Keeping careful documentation on medical bills, medical records, and how your workplace injury develops over time.
- Having a list of witnesses who saw your accident, along with their contact information
- Keeping written reports of the accident and your injury
- Having copies of records of any previous injuries you may have sustained to the same part of your body
- Collecting contact information for your employer and their insurance company
- Documenting correspondence from your employer or its insurance company about your work injury claim
You may be given additional steps by the attorney you meet with to protect your claim.
5. Can I Get Worker’s Compensation Benefits without a Lawyer?
After a workplace injury, many injured workers will be able to get benefits through the worker’s comp process without the help of an attorney. Your claim may not require the help of an attorney if your injury has already healed or is minor and you have not missed any work.
Keep in mind, however, claims that may seem straightforward and simple will often be denied by claims adjusters. Adjusters may argue that the injury was not sustained in a work-related event, or that the injury was not as serious as you are claiming it to be. In cases involving serious or permanent injuries, having an attorney working for you will ensure that you receive the full amount of benefits that you may be entitled to.
6. After a Workplace Injury, Can I Sue My Employer?
In general, even if the accident was your employer’s fault, you cannot sue your employer for personal injury after a workplace injury. However, if a third party was involved in the accident, such as in the case of an equipment-related injury that was caused by a defective product, or a work-related car accident that involved another driver, you may be able to sue for damages from the third party that was involved.
7. If I Hire a Law Firm for a Worker’s Compensation Case, What Charges Will I Incur?
It is important to understand how much the lawyer that you meet with will charge you for a worker’s compensation case before hiring them to take on your case.
Customarily, worker’s comp attorneys will charge on a contingency fee basis, which means they earn a percentage of your overall settlement. Payment for worker’s compensation lawyers is determined by state law, and the majority of states require contingency fees for cases involving worker’s compensation.
Additionally, most states require a judge to approve the fee and place a cap on this percentage, which is typically between 10% and 20%. Another thing to keep in mind is that more experienced worker’s compensation lawyers may charge a higher percentage compared to a less experienced lawyer.
Contact a Worker’s Compensation Attorney in South Carolina for Help Today
While there are many concerns you may have regarding your worker’s compensation situation, benefits you may be entitled to, what opposition you may face, and what you may or may not do lawfully, being armed with the right questions for a lawyer, you are in a better position to fight for the benefits you may be entitled to.
Upon your initial meeting with a worker’s compensation attorney, you should leave having an honest assessment as to whether your claim needs a worker’s compensation lawyer or if the claim can be handled on your own. When you are ready to hire a worker’s compensation lawyer and are unsure where to turn for help, call Shelley Leek Law Firm.
We offer free, no-obligation consultations to work injury victims across South Carolina. Claim yours by filling out our online contact form or by calling our office today.