Written by attorney Scott Monge

How to win your worker's compensation case

The best way to begin your workers' compensation claim is to understand what worker's compensation is, and how it impacts your situation. Understanding the foundation of a worker's compensation case, what it encompasses, and what the law really means, gives you a better idea of what you need to do to protect your rights as an injured employee.

What is workers’ compensation?

From the first day on the job, your employer has a responsibility to provide you with workers’ compensation in case you are hurt at work. This means that even if an accident happens within the first few hours of you being on the job, you have rights to compensation for your injuries. How long you have worked at a company has no impact in determining how much you should receive in your claim.

Under workers compensation law, you have rights to financial support and medical benefits if you experience any type of injury in the workplace. This includes injury from an accident, or any occupational injury or illness that you have because of performing the duties of your job in your place of employment.

Workers’ compensation law was designed to keep employees, their families, and the employers safe in the event of an accident in the workplace that resulted in an injury, illness, or death. The law protects the employee and the employer equally, so both parties get a fair outcome.

Under the law, the employee receives monetary protection to cover any bills they may not be able to pay as a result of lost income from missing work. Employees also receive medical benefits to ensure that injuries and illness are treated as quickly as possible, and in the best possible manner.

What does workers’ compensation encompass?

When you go to work each day, workers’ compensation law is there to keep you safe in case of an accident. The law requires employers to protect all of their regular employees. In some cases, understanding who the employer is or the definition of an employee of an organization can be ambiguous. However, it is important to know, as this defines who is protected under the workers’ compensation law.

Although employers must purchase this insurance through a licensed workers compensation insurance carrier, or be self-insured (which requires approval) for workers’ compensation, not all employers do. If your employer did not purchase the required coverage, and you were hurt at work, your employer is still responsible for compensating you for your injuries, just as they would be if they had the insurance. They may also be at risk of penalties by the state board.

Employers that operate lawfully by purchasing the workers’ compensation insurance coverage for their employees must post a notice of compliance in the workplace. If you see this notice, and the state board of workers’ compensation's Bill of Rights for the Injured Worker in the break room, manager office, or any other obvious place, you know that your employer has the necessary insurance to cover you after an accident.

The definition of a winning workers' compensation claim

The money you receive protects your financial future, and the future of your family. When you get seriously hurt on the job, you may not be able to perform the same functions you once did. Your on the job skills that you developed throughout your years of experience may suddenly become obsolete making it difficult, if not impossible, to find a job that allows to support your family as you once did. There are a few things that must happen in order for you to win your workers’ compensation claim.

Not paying out of pocket for any part of the accident that happened on the job.

After an accident at work, you should not be held responsible for the costs of your injuries. This means that once your case is resolved, you should not be required to pay for any of your medical expenses, treatment costs, or any other bills you may receive as a result of your on the job injury. To ensure that you get the maximum compensation for your injury sustained at work, it is critical that you follow all of your doctor’s instructions. Having the full extent of your injuries diagnosed by your physician is critical.

Getting the full compensation you are entitled to after a workplace injury.

First and foremost, to win your case, you need to get the entire sum of compensation available to you. When you get hurt at work, you're entitled to a certain amount of money. Many people believe that because the money is available under your workers’ compensation plan, it is automatically given to injured victims. Unfortunately, this is not the case. Although your employer may regularly pay for ample coverage for his or her employees, the insurance company wants to provide you with the most minimal compensation possible. Winning your case means fighting against that. It requires you to have a thorough understanding of the law.

Receiving compensation that will keep you and your family financially secure after a serious accident.

Once your case is over, you may not be fully healed. In fact, many workplace injuries cause permanent damage to victims, making it impossible to ever work as you once used to. Because of this, long term security must also be taken into consideration when negotiating a winning settlement. Workers’ compensation insurance coverage is in place to protect employees. A winning case means that you remain protected now, and in the future, so that your accident does not disrupt your life financially, as it has physically & emotionally.

Damages available to injured employees in worker's compensation settlements

Medical costs: The first factor that goes into calculating your compensation package is medical costs. Many people with serious injuries at work require surgery and long-term treatment to fully recover. With your employer's worker's compensation insurance, you do not have to pay for your surgery, or other medical expenses.

Disability: After a workplace injury, you may temporarily be unable to perform the duties you once needed to for your job. This can keep you out of work, and out of an income, for an extended period of time. While you heal, you may be entitled to receive temporary disability.

Death: When an accident is serious enough to cost an employee their life, the family receives worker's compensation. If your loved one dies as a result of a workplace accident, you may be entitled to worker's from their employer.

Steps to take after an accident happens on the job

  • Notify your employer as soon as possible

  • Seek medical attention right away

  • Contact a worker's compensation attorney to protect your rights

7 reasons why having the right guidance helps you win

The following are seven of the top ways an attorney can help advocate for you:

  • Help find the best doctors to care for your injuries

  • Help you learn and understand your legal rights

  • Take the burden of dealing with the insurance companies off your plate.

  • Give you an experienced opinion on how much your claim is worth

  • Give invaluable peace of mind that your claim is being handled in the best way possible

  • Find added sources of income that you not have realized were available to you

  • Provide confidence in knowing that your final settlement will cover your costs & keep your family protected

5 questions to ask when choosing your workers’ compensation attorney

After you have narrowed your search for the right attorney, it's time to schedule a free consultation. During this consultation, you have the opportunity to get to know more about the people you will entrust with your workers’ compensation claim. Finding the right team of workers’ compensation lawyers to represent you is very important.

You want to be confident that you will win your claim & ensure the future well being of your family. When you talk in your free consultation, here are five of the top questions you should ask so that you can make an informed decision about which attorney is right for you.

  • Does the attorney concentrate on the area where you need representation?

  • Has the attorney written books on the practice area where you are seeking representation?

  • Has the attorney appeared on television in relation to the area you need representation?

  • What is the strategy the attorney will use to help you?

  • Will you have access to your attorney and all of the information related to your claim?

Most employer insurance companies will not help you when you need it most, instead giving you low-ball settlements that will still leave you responsible for paying for a good portion of your medical expenses and bills. The solution to getting out from under the stress of a workers’ compensation claim is by getting help from a skilled attorney.

By working together with an attorney, you put someone on your side that works hard to help you get the maximum amount to which you are entitled. With an experienced advocate on your side, you have the confidence that you need that your claim is handled correctly so that you can rest easier at night. Instead of having to face the stress and worry of how your claim is managed, you can focus on your recovery and rehabilitation after a serious accident.

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