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When should I hire a workers’ compensation attorney?

Welder working in hazardous environment

What is workers’ compensation?

Before we determine if you should hire a workers’ compensation attorney, let’s summarize the definition of workers’ comp. Generally speaking, workers’ compensation ensures employees receive the proper support after a work-related injury or illness has made them unable to work. After a workplace accident, your employer typically covers a percentage of your missed pay and medical expenses. 

How do I know if I qualify for workers’ comp?

Think you’re entitled to obtain workers’ comp? There are a few qualifications that you must meet to file a workers’ comp claim successfully. 

Qualifications for Workers Comp:

  1. You have to be an employee.
  2. The injury, illness, or condition you obtained must be work-related at least in part. 
  3. Each state has strict deadlines for reporting and filing a workers’ comp claim. 

Does my case require a workers’ compensation attorney?

As you can imagine, not all workers’ compensation claims are smooth sailing. If you’re in the process of filing a claim, there are a few red flags that may indicate it’s time to hire a lawyer. 

1. Your employer requested an Independent Medical Exam (IME).

An IME is a medical examination that your employer requests utilizing a physician of their choosing to determine the legitimacy and severity of your workplace injury. While IMEs are useful for insurance reporting, they can signify that your employer is challenging the statements made in your claim (both by you and your doctor). Ugh! 

2. You were assigned a Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor (VRC).

Why is this bad news? It may not be – some VRC’s are great and are actually interested in you getting better and returning to your life. Unlike a physical or occupational therapist however, a VRC is hired by the Department of L&I or your self-insured employer to determine your condition as it relates to the costs of your claim. 

Dealing with a VRC, you may not get the proper care or time you need to recover fully due to their nature of speeding things along. Conversely, they may be able to help bring ends together to speed up treatment and progress for your benefit (sometimes claims can drag on with everyone pointing fingers at someone else). It can be a bit of a crap-shoot, so you have to enter this relationship with a careful eye.

3. A wage order was issued.

The Department of Labor and Industries is responsible for composing a wage order after they have collected all your wage information. Once L&I issues your wage order, you have 60 days to protest or appeal it. If you’re unhappy with your time loss rate, the guidance of an L&I attorney is extremely helpful. 

4. You’re challenged with segregation of conditions.

For reasons explained by the Department of L&I, you may be hit with a segregation of condition order where they deny financial responsibility for some or all of your medical conditions. Like the wage order, you’ll have 60 days to protest or appeal this before it’s final. For the Department it comes down to splitting hairs and cutting corners at that point. Please don’t settle for the bare minimum (or less) concerning your well-being.

The benefits of working with a workers’ comp attorney

As lawyers specializing in workers’ compensation and personal injury, Carlisle + Byers is here to stand up for your rights and guide you through the complex areas of your case. We understand that with bills to pay and loved ones to support, a work-related injury or illness can cause everything to come to a halt. Who needs the added stress of legal formalities? 

If you’re ready to learn more about getting the care and compensation you deserve, click here to contact us.