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Written by AskTheLawyers.com™ on behalf of Sarah E. Stottlemyer with Stottlemyer & Associates, LLC.
Workers’ compensation, commonly referred to as “workers’ comp”, is a type of insurance paid for by an employer to protect themselves from a lawsuit in the case of an employee injury. This workers’ comp insurance is used to help an injured employee pay their medical bills and any lost wages which may occur as a result of the injury, medical treatment, and/or recovery. While workers’ comp might seem like a fairly straightforward process, a variety of factors can make it tricky to navigate, highlighting the importance of having a workers’ comp attorney on your side to protect the interests of yourself and your family after a workplace accident.
The Exclusive Remedy Act prohibits injured employees from filing against their employer if they are already receiving workers’ compensation. However, depending on your state, there could be a variety of circumstances in which an employee can file a personal injury claim against their employer.
Specifically, if an employer was negligent regarding worker safety, failed to maintain or provide workers’ comp when they were required to by law, or if the workers’ comp is insufficient to cover the injured employee’s damages, the injured worker may be able to file suit. In any of these cases, it is especially imperative to contact a workers’ comp attorney. These attorneys are well-versed in the laws surrounding workplace injuries and insurance, and they will know how to obtain the necessary evidence to prove your claim.
If you think you might be eligible to file a personal injury claim in addition to receiving workers’ comp, it’s highly recommended to file for the workers’ comp benefits first so you can begin to receive immediate assistance with your expenses related to the injury. Personal injury cases can take much longer to resolve and receive compensation from, so if workers’ comp is available it’s wise to seek that avenue of damage assistance before taking additional legal action.
This ensures that a record will exist regarding the accident and subsequent injuries if further action needs to be taken regarding that case in the future. In most cases, your company’s HR department will be able to guide you through the process of applying for workers’ comp. However, if you have the suspicion that your injury is not being taken seriously or that you are going to be unfairly denied workers’ comp, this is when it’s a good idea to involve a workers’ comp attorney as soon as possible.
A workers’ comp attorney will know what kind of workers’ comp benefits your employer is required to provide an injured employee, and will be able to determine whether or not you are eligible to take further legal action to enforce those benefits or seek additional compensation in a personal injury claim.
If this situation sounds familiar but finances regarding hiring an attorney are a concern, it may help to note that the majority of workers’ comp attorneys offer free consultations and work on contingency; this means that you don’t pay your attorney unless and until they win your case. At that point, they would be paid a previously agreed upon percentage of the winnings. To learn more about workers’ comp or if you have questions regarding your eligibility to file an additional claim, seek legal counsel.
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