What is Worker’s Compensation?
Worker’s Compensation (or workman’s comp) is a crucial part of the stability of our modern day workplace. In California, without a good compensation program in place, worker’s could be left out in the cold after an injury incident.
Workplace Injury in California
If you are on the job 8 hours-a-day 5 days-a-week, there is a definite risk of getting hurt. After all, your job takes up the bulk of your day! Worker’s compensation is an overarching program that gives employees the right to covered medical care or financial relief.
A stronger definition: “Worker’s Comp is a form of insurance that provides compensation medical care for employees who are injured in the course of employment, in exchange for mandatory relinquishment of the employee’s right to sue his or her employer for the tort of negligence. While plans differ between jurisdictions, especially in California, provision can be made for weekly payments in place of wages (functioning in this case as a form of disability insurance), compensation for economic loss (past and future), reimbursement or payment of medical and like expenses (functioning in this case as a form of health insurance), and benefits payable to the dependents of workers killed during employment. General damages for pain and suffering, and punitive damages for employer negligence, are generally not available in worker compensation plans.” – en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Workers_compensation
For worker’s compensation to take effect, an injury or illness has to occur during the course of standard employment.
The Catch with Workman’s Comp
As you may have noticed in the above definition, employees are often waved of their right to sue for negligence when participating in a worker’s compensation program. This allows companies to protect themselves from larger more detrimental settlements.
Punitive damages, or those incidences caused by neglect and negligence of an employer, are generally not a part of worker’s compensation cases.
The Importance of State
When it comes to workman’s comp, every state has its own set of rules and statutes.
One of the first things you have to do when considering workman’s comp is recognizing which state you are legally working in. From their, it is critical to acquire a skilled personal injury lawyer familiar with your state’s system.
As with any form of insurance, companies will often try to find any and every reason not to pay you. Sometimes they may be correct under the letter of the law, but to get your fair chance at financial or medical relief you need to come prepared with a competent attorney. At the very least, have one look over the details of your case. Most good attorney’s will provide you with a free legal consultation.
The Advantages of Working With a Workers Compensation Lawyer
Getting injured on the job can be a traumatic situation. Workplace injuries can cause an injured worker not only to be seriously hurt but also create a financial hardship. Workers' compensation laws vary from state to state. As such, any person that has suffered a workplace injury should consult with a workers' compensation attorney.
Workers' compensation was designed to provide remedies for an employee that has been injured on the job. Injured employees may be entitled to receive medical care, lost time, and even permanent disability benefits. In return for assured benefits employees do not have the legal right to file a lawsuit for an award from the court.
Although injured employees give up their ability to sue their employer they still have the right to obtain workers' compensation. Not all employees injured on the job will be approved for workers' compensation benefits. If an employee is denied or does not receive benefits that are appropriate for their situation they have the right to an appeal. A worker's compensation attorney specializes in workers' compensation laws and they can help an injured worker fight and obtain benefits.
Any attorney can choose to practice in the area of workers' compensation law. However, an employee that has a workplace injury will want to find an attorney that is experienced in this area of law. One way to find a reputable and experienced workers' compensation attorney is through the state bar association. The bar association will can help in locating attorneys in good standing as well as those who specialize in certain areas of law.
You can also find a reputable workers' compensation attorney by checking your local yellow pages. Many attorneys advertise in the yellow pages and this will give you a good starting point in locating a number of candidates. Attorneys that advertise in the yellow pages generally highlight their specific area of law so this is also a good way to narrow your search for an attorney who practices specific aspect of law.
Once you have selected a few candidates you will want to do an evaluation during your initial consultation that will help determine your selection. Your evaluation of the workers' compensation attorney should be based on a few factors. These factors are how well the attorney listens, their understanding of your situation, explanation of law as it applies to your case explained in laymen's terms, and your level of confidence in their representation of you.
You may also want to ask for references so that you can evaluate the workers' compensation attorney's work on previous cases. Former or current clients are good sources of references but attorneys may be reluctant to divulge client information because of its confidential nature. The next best sources of references are other attorneys.
It is extremely important to be prepared for your initial consultation with the workers' compensation attorney. It may be wise to prepare a summary of the facts and events surrounding your injury in chronological order before your consultation. The summary should include important information such as the date of your accident, exact name/address of employer, and details of your injury.
You may also want to bring any medical records, employee handbook, and if possible any witness statements. This will help your meeting go smoothly and also help in selecting a workers' compensation attorney.
How to Properly Choose a Workers Compensation Attorney
Many injured workers asked the question, why hire a work comp lawyer? There are many reasons to hire a workers compensation attorney however I'll try to summarize the most important benefits to hiring a work injury lawyer.
The worker's insurance company will have a work injury attorney assigned to defend them against you and your work comp claim. Their adjusters and work injury lawyers are highly experienced and will generally circle around you. An experienced workers compensation lawyer who only represents injured workers can make sure you are being treated fairly and receive the work comp benefits you deserve if you have been injured on the job.
A local and experienced workers comp attorney can assist you with selecting the right doctor, negotiate with the insurance company and represent you at the Workers Compensation Appeals Board. Most workers comp cases settle before trial, and an experienced attorney can get you the settlement you deserve. If your case goes go to trial, you are going to want an attorney familiar with that court with years of trial experience. Representing yourself is not recommended unless you have years of workers comp experience and knowledge.
Hiring an experienced workers compensation attorney is cheap. A personal injury attorney will charge anywhere from 33% to 50% of your final accident settlement. Worker's comp lawyers generally work for a 15% fee of your final settlement. Because of the attorney's years of knowledge and experience, the lawyer generally pays for himself or herself by the value they bring to the work comp case. If your claim is denied, a work injury attorney can definitely help you.
A reputable and local workers comp lawyer will be familiar with your regional Workers Compensation Appeals Board and their judges. The Appeals Board is the court where your case will be heard. The work injury lawyer will save you from the work comp paperwork nightmare which is part of the system. You will no longer have to deal with a workers comp insurance company as your work injury attorney will take over that task for you. You will not have to deal with work comp carrier any longer. If you have suffered a work injury, you already have enough to worry about. Your work injury lawyer can also help you obtain benefits if you are unable to work as a result of your work comp injury. Those benefits may be in the form of temporary disability from the workers compensation insurance company or in the form of state disability payments in your workers compensation claim is denied.
Hiring the right local experienced Worker's Comp attorney, preferably a member of the California Applicant Attorneys Association, can help you navigate your case from beginning to end for the best possible outcome for you.
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