As an employee, particularly if you are assigned to work in hazardous areas such as a manufacturing and processing plant, it cannot be denied that you are always at a risk of accidents. Work hazards are always present, and these can come at a time when you may be least prepared for it.
Because employees are the assets of a company, government and company regulations are always making an effort to create standards that are set to benefit employees. In the case of work-related accidents, the Workers’ Compensation Law came into place.
Under the Workers’ Compensation Law, employees who meet an accident in the place of their work while doing a work-related activity are entitled to compensation for injuries and other losses that they may sustain. These include medical treatment and rehabilitation, lost wages, and even benefits for the bereaved family, should death, unfortunately, happen. Workers’ compensation is, in essence, an added insurance for employees.
But before you can successfully claim this, there are procedural aspects that you, as the victim, or you as a family member of a victim, will have to comply with. In some cases, this can be quick and easy, while for others, it can get a little bit more complicated, wherein claims may even be denied.
Here, you can highlight the importance of hiring a workers’ compensation lawyer. While others may argue that having one isn’t necessary, there are instances, too, that having one is a must. That said, here are some of the telltale signs that you need to hire a team of experts like The Dominguez Firm’s workers’ compensation lawyers:
If A Case Is Filed
If a case is filed, it is best that you have the help of a workers’ compensation lawyer. Do not try to go to court to represent yourself. Remember that by doing so, you are already putting yourself at a disadvantage. Employers and their corresponding insurance companies will always go to court with their own lawyers. Hence, you have to put yourself in a position whereby you are at an equal footing with the other party.
A workers’ compensation claim will generally reach the court and proceed to a trial if the following occurs:
- The injuries you suffered are significant, which may give you temporary or total disability from performing the work that you were used to doing.
- The injuries you suffered led to days off at work, whereby you suffered a loss of income.
- The employer denies that the injury you suffered happened at the place of work.
Even if no case reaches the court, it is still best for you to seek the free legal advice of a lawyer when it comes to going about your claims.
If Your Employer Insists That You Visit A Doctor Of Their Choice
The Workers’ Compensation Law allows injured employees to seek the help and advice of a medical doctor of their choice. After all, they are the ones who suffered the injury, and they want to be comfortable with the doctor they are working with. If you have had a preferred doctor for the longest time, your level of comfort with that doctor is enough for you to experience better treatment at the hospital, too.
However, it is also the case that some employers may require that you visit a doctor of their choice should an accident happen while in the workplace. If your employer insists on doing so, then you need the assistance of a workers’ compensation attorney. Employers are not allowed to force you to abide by their choice of doctors, lest you are only falling into the trap of their own desires being served and not yours.
If You Have No Idea At All About Processing Your Claims
This section particularly applies to those who may not be a local in your current place of work, or that you do not know your way around the legal processing of your claims. Or perhaps your injuries are so grave that you are physically incapacitated to file your claims by yourself, and you do not have family members or friends to help you out.
In any of these circumstances, it is best that you have a lawyer by your side. Remember that one delay or mistake beyond the prescriptive period of filing claims is enough to bar you from ever filing any of your claims again.
For instance, as soon as an injury occurs, you have 120 days to report the injury to your employer. But you also have only 21 days to give notice to your employer, or else you cannot claim for workers’ compensation until notice is given within the 120-day timeframe.
If you do not meet this 120-day deadline, you can no longer file your claim. So, time is really of the essence. With a lawyer’s help, you are better assured that all your documents and claims are filed on time.
If Your Employer Refuses To Pay For All Job-Related Injury Claims
For as long as you are employed with the company, you are in the place of work when the accident happened, and you are performing an act that is in furtherance of the company you work for, you are entitled to workers’ compensation benefits should an accident happen.
While your employer may recognize this as absolutely right, it may also be the case that they might not agree to shoulder ALL of your job-related injury claims. They may choose only a few, or they may have a ceiling amount. Should you go beyond that, and then they refuse to pay. This is wrong. If your employer does this, then you certainly need a workers’ compensation attorney by your side.
Your employer is liable to shoulder the following, for example:
- Laboratory tests
- Emergency care, including surgeries and other procedures
- Hospital visits
- Follow-up visits with the doctor and rehabilitation
While you are recovering, you are also entitled to receive a certain percentage of your average daily pay.
If Your Employer Denies Your Claim
While this isn’t always the case, it does happen. There have been numerous accounts of employers denying the claim of injured employees. This situation most commonly occurs for unreported workers, especially those who are immigrants. But, remember, your employer cannot use your being an unreported employee to deny your claims.
Even if you are an unrecorded worker, the fact that you were accepted as an employee in the company you have been working for means that you are entitled to workers’ compensation. Your employer has no right to question your migration status, most especially so if, upon your firing, the employer did all they can in their power to ensure that you are a legal migrant.
For whatever reason asserted by your employer to make his denial of your claim strong, it is up to you and your lawyer to refute this fact.
If Your Employer Is Questioning The Necessity Of Your Medical Treatment
When you meet an injury in your workplace, it is your right to seek the treatment and advice of a doctor and hospital of your choice. Generally, it is up to you as a patient to comply with all the tests and procedures that your doctor will ask to be performed.
However, the sticky situation starts when your employer begins to question the necessity of particular medical treatments, especially if they turn out to be costly. Do you need to go through a CT Scan? Do you need that surgery? Do you need ten sessions of physical rehabilitation therapy? These are for your doctor to decide, and not for your employer to question.
Once your employer starts to question the necessity of medical treatments you have to go through, seek the help of a lawyer immediately. Or else, you might later on fall into the trap of your employer refusing to pay for some of your medical treatments, simply because in their judgment or from that of their doctor, you do not need that particular procedure.
If There Was A Third Party Involved In The Accident
If you are lucky, the only party that may be injured is you. Hence, the parties involved in the workers’ compensation claim will only be you as the injured employee, and your employer. However, in unfortunate instances, it might also be the case that there is a third party involved.
This situation often occurs in a vehicular accident, whereby you were driving a company car, or a company truck, on the way to a job you have to do and a negligent third-party driver collides with you. This situation becomes even trickier as you will also be dealing with the auto accident lawyer of the other party. Hence, with this, you need a lawyer by your side.
Let’s face it: no matter how good your employer might be, it isn’t always the case that you will immediately be paid compensation when an injury happens on the job. Especially if you aren’t well versed with the law, you will need the help of a lawyer in filing your claims.
Albeit more costly, the benefits outweigh all the added costs that you will be spending for. If any of the above-mentioned situations apply to you, this should be enough to tell you that yes, you really need that workers’ compensation attorney today.