When To Seek The Advice Of A Workers Comp Attorney
If you’ve been injured on the job you probably have a lot of questions and worries on your mind, one of which may be “Do I need to see a Workers Compensation Attorney?” The answer to that is… it never hurts to meet with one.
When To Consult An Attorney
Every workers comp situation is different and whether or not your situation requires the services of a workers compensation attorney depends a great deal on your employer and how they are handling their responsibilities during this time. In most cases you will want to consult a workers compensation attorney if:
- You were injured on the job and reported it, or your employer witnessed it, but you are unhappy with the doctor you were referred to or the response of your employer to the report.
- You were hurt on the job but didn’t tell anyone about it for fear of repercussions or because you didn’t think the injury was serious enough to warrant reporting it.
Let’s break those two situations down and examine how an attorney can help you.
1. You Were Injured On The Job And Reported It
This situation is very common in Florida. Florida has a no-fault workers compensation system. This means that injured employees do not have to prove that the injury was the employer’s fault or due to employer negligence in order to receive workers comp benefits. So, if you are injured on the job, your employer will send you to see a doctor immediately.
The catch is you will have to see a doctor of their choosing, not your own physician. Sometimes, the injured employee is not happy with their employer’s choice of doctors. They may feel the doctor didn’t take their injury seriously or didn’t handle the situation properly. If this is the case, you should definitely consult a workers compensation attorney immediately, BEFORE you request to see a new physician.
Under Florida law you are able to request a new doctor ONLY ONCE. You definitely want to speak to an attorney before you ask to see a new doctor because he or she can help ensure you see the type of doctor or specialist you need.
2. You Were Injured On The Job And Did Not Report It
This is unfortunately an all too common occurrence. An employee gets hurt on the job but doesn’t tell the employer out of fear that he or she will be fired or experience other adverse repercussions at work, or they think the injury is not serious enough to warrant medical attention.
In reality, it is exceedingly rare for an employer to “retaliate” against an injured employee. The risk of a wrongful termination lawsuit for doing so is far too great for most employers to risk.
It is important that you report any and every injury as soon as possible, no matter how minor it seems. By reporting it, you are protecting yourself against any possible future argument that the injury was not work-related.
If you failed to report the injury right away, talk to an experienced workers compensation attorney to review your options. They can take a look at your situation, help you file a claim and guide you through the process to ensure you receive the benefits to which you’re entitled.
Consultations Are Always Confidential
Sometimes injured workers consult workers comp attorneys even when the process is going smoothly just to make sure it keeps moving along. An attorney can take preventative measures to make sure things don’t get off track.
Many employees are concerned that meeting with an attorney will put their job in jeopardy but all consultations are 100% confidential. A consultation is an excellent way to discuss your situation and get your questions and concerns answered. You and your attorney can discuss your options and then decide what action to take, without your employer ever finding out.
Another concern that prevents injured workers from seeking the advice of a workers comp attorney is how to pay for it. This is a worry you needn’t have. Workers compensation attorney fees are covered by the employer’s workers compensation insurance policy. You should not have to pay anything out of pocket.
Workers compensation attorneys don’t need much information to get started working for you. They will need to hear your story about how the injury occurred and a brief history of the actions you’ve taken to file the report, if any. Next, your attorney will want to see the initial medical reports and records to determine the extent of the injury as well as what kind of medical evaluations you’ve already received. This should include a copy of any x-rays or scans taken. The more documentation you can provide, the better.
Be sure you are completely honest with your attorney. Workers comp attorneys have years of experience behind them and can often tell you how the case is likely to pan out and what the result is likely to be, but only if they know all of the information up front.
After you’ve met with the attorney and decided to have him or her represent you, a letter will be sent to your employer and their insurer to let them know you have obtained legal representation. The employer will be asked to provide information to your attorney and has seven days to provide that information. Your lawyers will review this information to make sure the process is being carried out properly on the employer’s end.
After the seven days are up, your attorney will file a Petition for Benefits with the Judge of Compensation Claims. This starts the process.
Workers' compensation law in Florida is complicated and many times, the injured employees are at the mercy of the employer and the employer’s chosen doctors. There is no one looking out for what’s best for the employee except the employee. This is where a workers comp attorney can be invaluable. You will have the attorney’s years of expertise on your side to guide you through the process, but just as importantly, you’ll have someone looking out for your best interests during the entire process.
For more information about the workers compensation process in Florida, contact our office for a free, confidential consultation.