Feeling reluctant to hire an attorney because you’ve been injured at work is a perfectly natural feeling. Hard working employees who have been loyal to their employer want to feel that their employer will then be loyal to them, should a work-related injury ever happen. Unfortunately, that is not always the case, and it may not directly be the employer’s choice, but the result may be that an injured worker is not given the benefits they are entitled to under the Georgia Workers’ Compensation Act. And in that case, even if it feels extreme, hiring an attorney may be the best way to protect your income and your health. Here are 5 reasons why.
There are deadlines in workers’ compensation claims that injured workers may not be aware of, and an attorney can navigate those so that their client receives every medical or financial benefit that they are allowed by law. While it is important to allow the employer and insurer time to pay medical bills and wage benefits, it is also important to act while the employee is still eligible for benefits and medical treatment. An attorney can make sure that the employer/insurer is paying the appropriate benefits in a timely manner, which protects your income and your future.
Speaking of timing, the legal process can feel slow. It is set up to allow both sides time to respond, which can create frustration for injured workers waiting for something to happen. Without an attorney experienced in the workers’ compensation process, an injured employee may not know what to ask for, or how to approach a conversation with their employer or with the insurance adjuster. Hiring an attorney relieves this frustration and gives claimants an advocate who will speak up about a delay in medical treatment, or a weekly check that hasn’t arrived yet. Essentially, an attorney can listen and let you know if what you’re dealing with is normal and requires a little more patience, or if action needs to be taken.
Hiring an attorney helps neutralize the emotional stress of waiting, healing, and returning to work. If a workers’ compensation client is irritated that it’s taking so long for an appointment to be approved, they have someone they trust who can find out why there is a delay. Here’s why that’s so valuable: If that worker called the adjuster personally, and ended up venting their frustration at the insurance adjuster, it’s more likely to lead to a tense, defensive conversation than a productive phone call that results in an answer. If that worker has an attorney, they can sit back and let the attorney handle the situation, without emotions clouding the conversation. This keeps the lines of communication as open as possible, keeps the client from having to make potentially awkward, uncomfortable, or damaging phone calls, and allows the adjuster to listen to the client’s point of view from someone who has a clear head and a clear view of the law. And it’s natural that injured workers feel frustrated – they are in pain; if they are unable to work, they have a lot of free time to wonder what’s going on; and a lot of the process for getting life back to normal is outside of their control. But with the help of an experienced attorney, some of that stress can be eased so that the claimant has space to heal and return to work, which ultimately, is everyone’s goal. And if that isn’t the goal because the injury is so severe that work may not be an option in the future, an attorney can help navigate that scenario, too.
Attorneys practicing workers’ compensation law understand how to apply the law to your individual circumstances, and assess what options are most appropriate for your personal situation. Even if you know someone else who was injured at work and received a settlement, that does not mean that your case will unfold in that same way. It’s important to let an attorney evaluate your options based on your unique facts and circumstances, and the parties involved in the claim. Every workers’ compensation claimant is not automatically entitled to the exact same settlement amount, for example. The value of a case depends on many variables that will only apply to you.
Legal deadlines were mentioned earlier in this post, and they can have consequences for the claimant if missed. Having an attorney manage your claim can save you money that you are owed by law, simply by being aware that the insurance company is required to pay for benefits as they are due, or include a penalty if those payments are late. Workers’ compensation benefits pay less than what the employee made prior to an injury, which means that every dollar can feel crucial to a client unable to work due to their injury.
If you feel it’s time to have someone represent you for a work-related injury, contact our office for a free consultation. We are more than happy to listen to your story and show you how we can help.