What Does a Workers’ Compensation Attorney Do?
If you got hurt at work or suffered a job-related illness, you can rely on the workers’ compensation program in California to provide you with the benefits you need to cover your medical bills, lost income, and certain other associated costs. You will need an experienced workers’ compensation attorney to handle the complex, confusing, and challenging process.
But what does a workers’ compensation attorney do, and how can they get you the benefits you deserve?
The following article explores these questions. However, if you are having issues filing for workers’ comp and having your claim accepted, reach out to an experienced workers’ compensation attorney in California as soon as possible for a complete review of your case and advice regarding your situation.
What Is Workers’ Compensation?
Workers’ compensation provides benefits to employees who are injured on the job or who develop work-related illnesses. These benefits may include medical treatment, disability payments, and vocational rehabilitation. The workers’ comp system also provides death benefits to spouses, children, and other dependents if the employee dies from a job-related injury or illness. Workers’ compensation laws vary by state, and in California, any employer with one or more employees must provide workers’ comp.
What Is a Workers’ Compensation Attorney?
A workers’ compensation attorney is a legal professional who focuses on helping employees who sustained injuries or became ill because of their work-related duties. A workers’ compensation attorney’s primary goal is to recover the benefits and compensation that injured workers deserve.
How a California Workers’ Compensation Attorney Can Help You
A workers’ compensation attorney can help you with all aspects of your claim and increase your chances of getting the benefits you need sooner rather than later.
A workers’ comp lawyer in California can assist you by:
- Explaining your legal rights and options. A workers’ compensation attorney can sit with you and review your case and advise you whether you have a valid claim. They can explain your rights and the process you must follow to obtain workers’ compensation benefits.
- Filing a workers’ compensation claim: A workers’ comp lawyer can navigate the complex process of filing a workers’ compensation claim. They can complete all necessary documentation correctly and on time to reduce the chances the insurance company will find a reason to deny your claim.
- Ensuring you get the medical treatment you need. A workers’ comp attorney can also help you get the proper medical treatment from the necessary doctors.
- Negotiating with employers and insurance companies: A workers’ compensation lawyer can negotiate with employers and insurance companies so you receive fair compensation for your injuries. This may include medical expenses, lost income, and disability benefits.
- Appealing denials of workers’ compensation claims: If either your employer or the insurance company denies your claim, a workers’ compensation attorney can appeal the decision. A lawyer can protect your rights and advocate on your behalf in court or administrative hearings.
Also, a workers’ compensation attorney can help you obtain disability benefits if you cannot work. You will need an attorney for assistance with the challenging process of obtaining short- or long-term disability insurance or Social Security Disability.
Regardless of your needs, a workers’ compensation attorney can provide you with peace of mind during a difficult time. They can answer your questions, provide guidance, and navigate the complex workers’ compensation system for you. An experienced California workers’ compensation attorney is an invaluable resource as you deal with the injuries or illnesses you suffered because of your job.
Qualifications of a Workers’ Compensation Attorney
When hiring a workers’ compensation attorney, here are the key qualifications you should look for:
Education and Training
Workers’ compensation attorneys typically have a law degree from an accredited law school. During their education, they may have taken courses in workers’ compensation law or participated in internships or clinics that focused on this area of law. Additionally, many attorneys continue their education through seminars, workshops, and other training opportunities to stay up to date on changes in workers’ compensation law.
Experience is an important qualification for a workers’ compensation attorney. Look for an attorney with experience representing clients in workers’ compensation cases. They should have a deep understanding of the law and the legal process and experience negotiating with insurance companies and representing clients in court.
Licensing and Certification
All attorneys need licenses to practice law in their state. In addition to a law license, some workers’ compensation attorneys may hold certifications in workers’ compensation law. These certifications demonstrate that the attorney has met certain standards of knowledge and experience in this area of law.
When choosing a workers’ compensation attorney, consider all of these qualifications. Look for an attorney who has the education, experience, and licensing or certification needed to provide effective representation in your case.
What Should I Do After Getting Hurt at Work?
If you suffered serious or life-threatening injuries in a job-related accident, you should get emergency medical treatment immediately. Call 911 or go to an emergency room. Your employer should ensure you have access to medical treatment, and they will likely tell you where to go to get treatment if you didn’t predesignate a physician.
If you did not sustain serious or life-threatening injuries, notify your employer of the accident and get medical attention as soon as possible. In either case, tell all medical personnel treating you that your injury or illness is work-related.
After reporting your injury and getting treatment, you should complete the DWC 1 Workers’ Compensation Claim Form, which your employer must provide to you within one working day of your reported injury or illness.
In the form, you will completely describe your injury and list all body parts affected. This initiates your claim, and you must do this as soon as possible to avoid any delays or other issues with your claim.
Your physician should understand your specific injury or illness and:
- Prescribe care and develop a comprehensive medical treatment plan
- Determine when (or if) you can return to work
- Determine the tasks you can physically do
- Refer you to a specialist if needed
- Document your injury or illness in medical reports
Inform your doctor of any symptoms you experience and the accident or events that caused them.
What Happens After I File My Workers’ Compensation Claim Form?
After you complete your workers’ compensation claim form and give it to your employer, they will complete the “employer” section of the form and provide a completed copy to the claims administrator.
The claims administrator will then review your case and decide whether to accept or reject your claim.
- If they accept your claim, workers’ compensation covers your injury or illness and you will receive paid medical care. You may also receive a portion of your weekly salary as payment for lost income.
- If the claims administrator deny your claim, they determined workers’ compensation does not cover your injury or illness. The administrator will inform you in writing, and you may appeal the decision.
The claims administrator must decide on your claim within a reasonable time. If you haven’t received a denial within 90 days, you can assume they accepted your claim. However, if you haven’t heard anything, contact the claims administrator for an update, or let your workers’ compensation attorney follow up to get answers.
Can My Employer Fire Me Because of My Injury?
No. It’s against the law for employers to fire employees because they suffered a work-related injury or illness and filed a workers’ compensation claim. Also, according to the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and the California Family Rights Act (CFRA), employers with 50 or more employees in California must allow you to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave to recover without firing you.
If your injuries result in a disability, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) both protect you and prohibit your employer from discriminating against you because of your disability.
If you feel your employer fired you or discriminated or retaliated against you in any way because of your injury or disability—or because you filed for workers’ compensation—consult an experienced attorney as soon as possible.
Contact an Experienced California Workers’ Compensation Attorney Today
You depend on your job to support yourself and your family, and you deserve to get the medical treatment you need without having to worry about the costs. The California workers’ compensation program can protect you as an employee and help you obtain all you need as you recover from your job-related injury or illness.
However, in navigating the complex and challenging workers’ compensation claims process, you may inadvertently do something that jeopardizes your chances of getting the benefits you need. Therefore, contact an attorney as soon as possible after your injury or diagnosis of your illness. Reach out to a personal injury lawyer.
The California workers’ compensation attorneys at Bentley & More are here for you.Contact us today for your free consultation and find out how you can get the workers’ compensation benefits you deserve.