Can A Lawyer Help Me With My Workers’ Compensation Claim?
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The short answer to that question is “Yes.” A lawyer can certainly help you understand the workers’ compensation process, educate you on what benefits are available to you, and help you obtain all of the treatment and benefits to which you are entitled under the law.
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The first step in making a claim for workers’ compensation benefits is notifying your employer of the accident and perhaps filing a written report if required by your employer. You should always report your accident or injury to your employer as soon as it happens, regardless of whether you feel you need immediate medical treatment, to preserve your rights.
Each state has its own appeals process for workers’ compensation claims that have been denied. In New Jersey, if a claim is denied, you should consult an attorney to discuss how to appropriately deal with the denial so that you can obtain the necessary benefits to which you are entitled. This would require appealing to the insurance company on your behalf or filing a Claim Petition with the court to have the court decide whether the denial by the insurance company was appropriate. Most people would want a lawyer before going to court. Mostly because they are uncomfortable in a courtroom setting but also because the other side will probably have a lawyer. Some workers’ compensation cases are even appealed to the highest court in the state (usually called the Supreme Court).
Whether or not you need the assistance of an attorney depends on the nature and severity of your injury and whether the insurance company denies that claim. If you have a serious injury, a work-related disease, or the permanent aggravation of a preexisting condition you may be entitled to coverage for future medical benefits and temporary wages, and most likely would be entitled to some type of financial benefit based upon your permanent loss of function. If you are unable to do the same work or if you are unable to work at all, then the stakes of a workers’ compensation claim will be high. The type of benefits that you will receive through the program (monetary benefits, vocational training, etc.) could be critical to your well-being and financial outlook.
Finally, another benefit to having an attorney is that sometimes, workers’ compensation is not your only option. Although in a majority of cases you do not have the right to sue your own employer, there are a few narrow exceptions. If the injury was the result of an intentional act then you may have the right to sue your own employer. In addition, if a third party is responsible for the work-related injury, such as the manufacturer of a defective product, the negligent driver that caused a car accident, or a slip and fall on property not owned by your employer, then you might have a claim against that third party. An attorney can help you consider these options as well as other options that may be unique to your situation.
DISCLAIMER: This site and any information contained herein are intended for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice. Seek competent legal counsel for advice on any legal matter.