When my husband I decided to start a business, we didn't think about the legal aspects of doing so. We didn't realize that purchasing business insurance, getting building permits and making investments all required some type of legal advice. But after speaking to a close friend, who also happens to own a small business, we contacted a business attorney. Now, we have the legal smarts to make the best decisions for our business, as well as the legal representation in case something happens to our company. I hope that you find my blog helpful and informative for your own business. It's a great resource for finding the legal advice, resources and guidance you need to get your company up and running.
If you've been injured at work, but it doesn't appear serious or if your employer is proceeding with the claim on your behalf, you may not ever need to hire a workers comp attorney; however, in many cases, you're better off seeking the advice of a qualified lawyer who specializes in this area of law. Because you have so much at stake, such as your future earning ability and bills piling up, you want to be sure you act in your own best interests, no matter what the circumstances. Here are a few quick questions to ask yourself before you decide you don't need a lawyer for your case:
1. How Extensive Is Your Injury?
If, as a result of your injury, you required serious medical attention or are looking at surgery, recovery, and/or rehabilitation, it's probably a good idea for you to contact a workers comp attorney now. Even if it seems like things are proceeding smoothly with your workers comp, because you could be facing a lot of time away from work and your ability to earn money, it's wise to cover all of your bases. Anything other than a minor injury should be treated seriously by you and a lawyer, especially if the injury won't be going away anytime soon or if you can't quite gauge how it may change you permanently.
2. Will The Injury Affect You For The Rest Of Your Life, Even In A Minor Way?
If you're hurt in some way that could affect you for any extended length of time, like a bad back injury, you definitely need to have a lawyer documenting every detail of the case right now. Hopefully, you'll make a quick and complete recovery, but if you don't, you could be up the creek later, should your employer's insurer decide they want to put up a fight about your long-term or permanent disability. If there's any question whatsoever about your injury changing how you walk, stand, sit, or your level of endurance or any other function now and in the future, you need proof of the injury and evidence from the workplace, which may only be available now or close to the time of the incident.
An attorney can gather all the evidence you need for your case, and that should be done now, even if you don't currently foresee taking the matter to court.
3. Are You Currently Able To Do Your Job Every Day, In Your Condition?
If you can't resume a normal working routine and schedule, you may want to consult with an attorney, especially if you're not certain how your employer will handle the workers comp proceedings. Because you still need the money you would have been earning every day, had you not been hurt, be prepared to fight for it. If things go well and you don't get any resistance from your boss, that's great; however, circumstances can change quickly, and you don't want to leave yourself in a vulnerable position.
4. Do You Anticipate Being Able To Work In Another Job, Considering Your Injury?
When you feel like you aren't able to continue with your regular job or have been advised by your doctor not to resume those particular tasks, but may be able to successfully work in some other capacity, you should talk to a lawyer, first. Your employer's insurance company may question the validity of your injury in the case that you're still able to do other things. This can be a tricky area of law, and although it may be obvious to you what you can and can't do, failure to follow the letter of the law could result in a loss of your benefits, both now and in the future.
5. Is Your Employer And/Or Their Insurer Working For Or Against You?
Sometimes, you're just a number at your place of employment, while other times, you're made to feel like family. If you're fortunate enough to have the latter, it may be safe to proceed without legal advice—just make certain none of your decisions are permanent and that you don't sign any document waiving any of your rights. Also, if you don't understand any of your paperwork, even when you trust your employer, get a second, outside opinion from a workers comp attorney.
6. Do You Feel A Decision Regarding Your Case Was Not Fair?
Especially if you've been trudging through the case on your own and suddenly hit a roadblock, contact a lawyer right away. Since these decisions can take time and you haven't got any to waste when it comes time to paying your rent and buying food, the sooner you can get everything in order, the better.
7. Have You Been Refused Any Benefits You Think You're Entitled To?
An outright denial is cause for immediate concern, no matter what the circumstances surrounding your workers comp case may be. While the decision to deny may stun you, don't let it paralyze you. Get on the phone with a firm that will start turning the wheels of justice in your favor, as soon as possible.
8. Are You Confused Or Concerned About What The Future May Hold For You?
Even if your case seems to be going your way, you may feel apprehensive about what tomorrow will bring. Should you have any doubts about whether or not your workers comp is going to actually take care of you for as long as you'll need that care, hire a lawyer fast. You'll not only have helpful advice, but your mind can be put at ease over the worry you're understandably facing. Don't be afraid on your own and not know what might be going on with your life in five or so years from now as a result of this injury—get the facts and insist on an advocate who will protect you.
Ultimately, you do need an attorney for your workers comp case, no matter what questions you do or don't have. A lawyer has insight into the laws and regulations you don't have, and their opinion can shed new light on your situation, perhaps opening up some of the darkness that a serious injury might have shrouded your life in right now. Either way, it's always a good idea to have someone in your corner, and that's exactly where a workers comp attorney will be.