The short answer is no, you should not need a workers comp attorney to file an OWCP claim. However, some circumstances may require you to get legal assistance. You may have issues with your employer, the doctor, or the courts.
This article will discuss the various circumstances that require a workers comp attorney.
Why Would I Need a Workers Comp Attorney?
Your Employer is Refusing to Pay Your Benefits
If you were injured at work and filed a claim with your employer, you should be entitled to benefits. However, some employers will refuse to pay. They may claim that your injury wasn’t work-related. Or they may refuse to pay for other reasons.
If your employer refuses to pay your benefits, call a workers comp attorney right away.
Your Employer Won’t Report Your Injury
Workers comp claims are a two-way street. Both the employee and the employer must file a report. The employer must also provide the employee with a Workers Compensation Claim form that must be completed by both parties.
Some employers refuse to report the injury. Others drag their feet and hope the clock will run out. (Most states require injury reports within 30 days).
Employers know that their premiums will go up if the claim is approved. As a result, some are reluctant to cooperate. If your employer refuses to do their part, or dragging their feet, contact a workers comp attorney.
You Have Not Received Your Full Benefits
Injured employees should be covered for lost wages and medical expenses. If your boss tries to pay you one or the other, and not both, you may need legal assistance.
You Were Fired or Treated Unfairly After Filing a Claim
Workers comp claims are bad for employers because it makes their premiums go up. Some employers will take it out on their employees. They may fire them, or they may treat them poorly at work by denying them raises and other unfair treatment.
Employers are not permitted to retaliate against workers who file workers comp claims. Doing so makes them subject to additional fines and penalties. A workers comp attorney will represent you in a retaliation claim.
You’re Not Sure if You Are Getting All the Benefits You Deserve
Employees who are injured in the workplace are entitled to the following benefits:
- Full coverage of all medical treatments
- Lost wages- workers typically receive two-thirds of their average weekly pay
- Permanent Disability Benefits- these will only apply if you are permanently disabled, the amount will vary depending on the severity of the injury
Many workers trust that their employer’s insurance company is paying them fairly. But insurance companies often aim to pay out as little as possible. They may offer workers lump sum payouts that seem like a lot of money. But over time, they find that they barely cover their expenses.
A workers comp attorney will ensure you are fairly compensated for damages.
You Aren’t Happy with Your Workers Comp Doctor
Injured workers must receive care from a doctor within their employer’s medical provider network (MPN). In some instances, they may not get along with their MPN doctor.
MPN doctors work for insurance companies. Some show loyalty to their employers by underreporting a patient’s injuries. They protect their employers so they will have lower payouts. They feel they will be rewarded with more work.
Other MPN doctors may provide poor service for other reasons.
Workers who are unhappy with their MPN doctors can request a new doctor. However, there are limitations in how many changes they can make (which vary from state to state).
If you feel you are not getting adequate treatment from your doctor and no longer have the option to request a new one, a workers comp attorney may be able to help.
Your Employer is Not Offering Alternative Work
Sometimes workers sustain severe injuries that do not allow them to return to their previous positions. They may have had a physically taxing job with duties can no longer perform.
In these situations, your employer must provide you with alternative work, such as a desk job or a retraining voucher, so you can get a job that’s suited to your capabilities. If your employer refuses to provide you with a voucher or alternative work, they may be dealing with a lawsuit.
Your Doctor Says You Are Ready to Go Back to Work But You Don’t Feel Ready
Unethical doctors who are on the side of the insurance company may tell you it’s okay to go back to work even though you don’t feel you’re ready. They may offer this recommendation to downplay your injuries. Doing so will also reduce the money the insurance must pay for lost wages and medical expenses.
If you feel you are being sent back to work before you’re ready, speak to a workers comp attorney.
Your Claim was Denied
There are several reasons why a workers comp claim could be denied. The most common are:
- No one witnessed the injury
- You did not file on time
- There was a conflict between the accident report and the medical records
- You filed a claim after you were fired
- You did not seek proper medical treatment after the injury
- The court suspects fraud
- Your injury was tied to a pre-existing condition
- You were acting recklessly or negligently when you were injured
- You failed or refused to take a drug or alcohol test
- There were issues with the paperwork
- You refused to make a recorded statement
If you feel your claim was unfairly denied, you may file an appeal. A workers comp attorney will assist you with the process.
Workers comp claims shouldn’t be complicated, but sometimes they are. If you are having trouble with your case, a workers comp attorney may be able to help. Good luck getting the coverage you deserve.