When an employee suffers an on the job injury, they may elect to have a workers compensation attorney handle their claim. Typically workers compensation attorneys handle cases involving industrial injuries, occupational disease claims, rejected claims and pursuit of acceptance of conditions related to the original industrial injury or occupational disease.
A good workers compensation attorney will be able to determine that all monetary benefits that an injured worker is entitled to are paid correctly. Claim issues that may arise requiring an attorney may include termination of time loss compensation, payment of loss–of–earning–power benefits, payment of permanent partial disability awards, aggravation or worsening of the on job injury, or permanent total disability benefits.
Workers compensation attorneys typically charge the injured worker on a contingency fee basis usually between 33–1/3 and 40% of the recovery made plus costs. For example, if a workers compensation attorney charging 33–1/3% was able to obtain an additional $10,000 for a claimant, the amount the claimant would receive would be reduced by $3,333.33 plus costs to pay for the attorneys' fees.
Most claimant workers compensation attorneys offer a free initial consultation to discuss an injured worker's claim. A skilled attorney can help ensure a claimant's rights are protected, that they are promptly compensated for all benefits the injured worker is entitled to under state law, and help put the claimant at ease with respect to how their claim is being handled.
Further, a workers compensation attorney may be able to identify additional legal remedies or benefits that the claimant may be entitled to as a result of their on the job injuries.
Employees need to be aware that there on the job injury may have special protection under the law. For example, if an employee is injured while operating faulty equipment, due to contractor negligence or employer ignored safety requirements, they may be to pursue punitive or general damages for their claim.
Another example would be if a construction worker is injured as the result of negligence of another contractor (not their employer) on the job, they may be able to bring third–party tort claim against the contractor. Such examples would include leaving debris on a construction site, installing dangerous temporary electrical wiring, or backing a truck into a worker. A further example would be when a subcontractor fails to install proper protective safety barriers when a scaffold falls.
These types of incidents can cause catastrophic injury or death. If a worker's injury is the result of a defective product, they may also be able to pursue a product liability claim. Examples would include a defective forklift, defective scaffolds, or a saw without safety guards. Employees injured working in these industries should consult with a workers' comp attorney with experience handling these types of cases.
Employer insurers typically hire an attorney or have their own defense attorneys when a claim is litigated. There is usually no need for an attorney when a case has not been filed with the corresponding legal jurisdiction. To avoid incurring legal expenses, the insurer will sometimes refer the case to defense counsel just prior to initial court deadlines.