If you’ve sustained work-related illness or injury, you may be debating whether to represent yourself or have an attorney help out. While both these options are viable, the one that you choose will largely be influenced by the severity of your condition, actions of your employer (or its insurer) and the overall complexity of the issue.
When not to hire a workers’ compensation lawyer
Generally, you may not need a lawyer if:
- You sustained a minor injury, like a cut requiring few stitches or a twisted arm and so on.
- Your employer or its insurance company does not oppose your claim
- You don’t have a preexisting injury or condition that affects the same body part as the present workplace injury
Keep in mind that even in such cases where the stakes are low, it’s still recommended to contact an Arizona workers’ compensation attorney for a free consultation regarding your case. They will give guidance regarding the process and the best course of action that you can take.
When to hire a lawyer
As stated earlier, it’s crucial to contact a lawyer, provided you have suffered a work-related injury – after all, most of these lawyers offer a free consultation, so it’s a win-win situation for you. However, while you can take on the situations above, there are some that should be handled by a qualified and experienced attorney. Here are some examples:
Your employer (or its insurance company) disputes the claim
It’s not uncommon for employers and insurers to deny compensation claims, maybe because they know that many workers won’t appeal, and even when they do, they end up getting discouraged by the complicated process. Hiring an attorney gives you the best chance to get adequate award or settlement for your injuries.
The settlement offered doesn’t take care of all medical expenses and lost wages
While workers’ compensation awards and settlement need to get approved by the judicial system, judges will often sign an agreement provided it isn’t evidently unfair. So, if you think that the settlement provided by your employer is not enough, it’s better to call a workers’ compensation attorney immediately, instead of leaving your fate to the judge.
You’ve suffered permanent disability
If, because of the injury, you are not able to go back to work, or you cannot do your job the way you used to, or you are entirely unable to do any work, then you need to lawyer up. Permanent disability workers may be eligible for a lump sum (or weekly payments) to compensate for the lost wages. But since such cases are costly for the insurance companies, they will strive not to pay you adequately. That’s where your attorney comes in.
You are retaliated against
If your employer demotes you, fires you, reduces your pay, slashes you or engages in any discrimination because you filed the workers’ compensation claim, you will need a lawyer to protect your legal rights. The labor law prohibits employers from retaliating against their employees because of filing a legal complaint.