The situation that arises right after a work-related injury or occupational illness can be overwhelming in more ways than one. To begin, is it worth pursuing legal action against your employer in the first place? Do you have a shot at securing a fair settlement, making your legal efforts worth it? And, if you have decided to open a workers’ compensation claim—should you hire an attorney, or should you simply represent yourself?
More often than not, it will be wise to hire a workers’ comp attorney to handle your claim rather than representing yourself. Of course, the level of necessity will depend on a few factors:
- How severe is your injury or illness?
- How complex are the circumstances of your case?
- How has your employer (or your employer’s insurance provider) responded to the case up until this point?
The importance of hiring a workers’ comp lawyer can vary, depending upon your responses to those questions.
Have you recently experienced a work-related injury or illness in North Carolina? End your search for an attorney today by contacting M. Reid Acree, Jr., a board-certified workers’ compensation legal specialist.
Can You Ever Represent Yourself in Workers’ Comp Court?
Although it is usually a good idea to speak with an attorney first, it’s still sometimes possible to open a workers’ comp claim without the assistance of an attorney.
To begin, if the injury you received was minor—for instance, a cut that required only a few stitches and no further medical care—it may be possible to proceed without a lawyer.
Further, if your employer openly admits its responsibility, it might not be worth it to hire a workers’ comp attorney. Missing only a little work will also lower the chances that you’ll require a lawyer for your claim.
Finally, whether you have a pre-existing condition can play a vital role in coming to this decision. For example, suppose you previously received an injury (unrelated to your current employment) that left you with a permanent disability. This could be used against you while you attempt to prove your employer’s fault for the current injury.
Even if you believe that you don’t need a workers’ comp lawyer, it is still a good idea to consult one. If your case seems to be relatively uncomplicated, an attorney can still offer you valuable advice and guidance on how to proceed. A lawyer can also explain the legal process to you from beginning to end so that you’ll have a clearer idea of what’s ahead and the best way to proceed.
When to Hire a Workers’ Comp Attorney
There are several scenarios in which you should always hire a workers’ compensation lawyer for the sake of your claim. Here are some examples of complex workers’ comp cases, during which an attorney will be an invaluable asset.
You Receive an Unfair Settlement Offer
If the settlement that your employer offers fails to cover your medical expenses and lost wages, you shouldn’t settle. In that case, it’s worth fighting for a fair settlement, which you are legally entitled to receive. A workers’ comp lawyer can use their legal expertise to ensure you receive the settlement you deserve, regardless of your employer’s initial offer.
Your Employer Refuses Your Workers’ Comp Claim
Even if your claim is entirely legitimate, it isn’t a guarantee that your employer (or the workers’ comp insurer) won’t reject it anyway. When this happens, your employer is relying on the assumption that you won’t bother appealing—because, much of the time, this is precisely what happens. So instead of giving up, your best bet is to get in touch with a workers’ comp lawyer as soon as possible.
Your Injury Negatively Affects Your Ability to Work
Maybe you’re outright unable to return to your position as a result of the injury or illness you received. Even if your injury only limits your ability to work, it’s still important to hire a workers’ compensation lawyer to aid your claim. If you’ve been left with any permanent disability, a workers’ comp insurer will likely resist paying you all that you’re owed; due to lost wages, it will typically cost the insurer a lot of money.
Your Employer Unlawfully Retaliates Against You
Technically, it is against the law for any employer to retaliate against an employee simply because they’ve filed a workers’ comp claim. This retaliation can take several forms, including demotion, reduction of pay, receiving fewer hours, or even outright terminating you from your position. If any of these instances occurs, an attorney can fight to ensure you receive justice.
You Currently Receive (or Will Later Receive) Social Security Benefits
Your workers’ comp claim can impact your Social Security disability payments—whether these payments are current or something you’re hoping to receive in the future. Depending upon how you secure your settlement, you run the risk of having these payments lowered.
What Will a Workers’ Comp Lawyer Do for You?
If you decide to hire a workers’ comp lawyer, they’ll perform a number of duties to help your case, allowing you to receive the settlement you deserve. Notably, your attorney will:
- Complete and file any necessary paperwork, ensuring that you meet all deadlines.
- Perform a thorough investigation, gathering evidence to prove your employer’s fault.
- Negotiate with insurance providers.
- Write a detailed settlement agreement without unforeseen consequences.
- Represent you in trial if you’re unable to come to a fair settlement beforehand.
If you believe that your workers’ compensation claim could benefit from any of these services, then make sure to contact an attorney.
Experienced North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Lawyer
M. Reid Acree, Jr., is a skilled workers’ comp attorney with over 30 years of legal experience, including a track record of getting his clients the best possible settlements. Not only does Mr. Acree handle work-related injuries, but he also has extensive experience working with occupational disease claims, as well.
To see maximum success with your workers’ comp claim, it’s vital to speak with an attorney. If you’re in North Carolina, you can get in touch with M. Reid Acree, Jr., through the contact form on his website.