When do you need an attorney to represent you when you have a workers compensation claim? Not every injured worker will need an attorney’s help. If you never missed time from work due to your injuries, chances are you will not need our help. If you filed a claim, missed some time from work but received Time-Loss benefits, and were able to return to your regular work – again, you might not need an attorney. I tell the workers I talk to there are three situations where they should definitely talk to an attorney.
First, if a dispute develops a qualified workers compensation attorney will be able to help resolve the problem. By dispute, I mean any push point where there is disagreement. Your feel you had an injury at work, and the claim is not being allowed; Your medical provider recommends a particular treatment, and the treatment is being denied; There is disagreement between medical providers on whether you can return to your regular work, or disagreement about your physical restrictions; a vocational assessment concludes you are employable but you and your physician disagree. There could be a dispute about your monthly wage, and in turn your compensation rate. There could be disagreement about the nature and extent of your permanent impairment. This is the short list, there are of course other points where there may be disagreement. Although the list may seem overwhelming, there will not be disagreements about all of these issues in all claims. You may face none, or several. The point is, when there is a dispute, an attorney can help, and that’s a good time to pick up the phone and call.
Second, if you can not get information or get a question answered by the Department of Labor & Industries or your self-insured employer, get in touch with an experienced workers compensation attorney. Your phone calls to your claim manger should be returned, you should have access to all your claim information. It is your claim manager’s job to manage your claim, and that includes giving you information. (Keep in mind, information is not the same thing as legal advise.) If you don’t know what is going on with your claim, and are not getting a response, get help. We know the system, and we know how to get the information you need. You should not be shut out of your own claim.
Third, if and when you are at wits end, and just can not cope with your injury and the demands of your claim, an attorney can take some of the pressure off of you. This breaking point is different for everyone, so there is no hard and fast rule. When you find yourself overwhelmed, frustrated, angry, or unsure what to do next, it is important to take action and call a workers compensation attorney. There are some important timelines and deadlines (another topic for another day) and you do not want to miss any of these because you were overwhelmed.
Those are my rules of thumb. The most important thing to remember is to ask for help from an experienced workers compensation attorney whenever you have questions. The consultation doesn’t cost you anything – and the piece of mind is more than worth a bit of your time.