If you have suffered a work-related injury or illness at work, you may be qualified for worker’s compensation benefits. But, a lot of employers or their insurance companies often deny worker’s compensation claims, even when they’re legally recognized. As a result, injured employees face a long and complicated system of appeals. At some point, applicants end up giving up, while others try their best to navigate the system alone. To avoid this problem, you need the help of an Atlanta workers compensation lawyer.

Hiring a worker’s compensation lawyer will give workers a better chance of receiving the benefits they deserve. A good lawyer will be able to communicate with the worker’s compensation insurer on your behalf, collect medical evidence supporting your claim, negotiate a good settlement, and represent you at your worker’s compensation hearing.

Lawyers and claims adjusters working for the insurance company are not looking out for you, and they will not think twice of rejecting your claim for dubious reasons. Fortunately, there are a number of things an Atlanta workers compensation lawyer can do to turn the tide.

Collect Medical, Vocational, and Other Evidence

One of the reasons most worker’s comp claims gets denied is that there is not enough medical evidence. Even if your claim is approved, there’s a huge chance for you to receive all the medical treatment you need (and other benefits) if you have strong medical evidence supporting your case. A lawyer can help develop the medical evidence by:

• Collecting medical records

• Organizing or recommending treatment with certain physicians

• Gathering medical opinions from your physicians and through an independent medical examination

• Representing you when you’ve been called to appear and answer questions at a deposition

• Arranging depositions of medical experts.

There are some types of evidence that could strengthen your case, such as:

• Statement from a vocational expert on your job’s physical requirements

• Statements from family members and friends regarding your day-to-day activities or

• Evidence highlighting your employer’s history of poor workplace safety or lack of training

A skilled workers’ compensation lawyer will understand, based on your case’s strength and weaknesses, what evidence is needed to guarantee the chances of a good outcome.

Negotiate Settlement Agreements

When it’s time for you to negotiate and reach a settlement with your employer’s insurance provider, a workers’ compensation attorney can help you by estimating how much your case is worth. This means that they can estimate the amount of benefits you are entitled to, based on several factors, such as:

• The amount of injuries you have and resulting limitations in what you can do

• Your previous medical expenses, as well as the cost of medical treatment you’ll require in the future

• Whether you have long-term impairments and, if so, the degree of your permanent disability

• Whether your employer is obligated to pay for your past temporary disability (wage loss) benefits and sanctions for late payments, and

• Your previous wages

A good Atlanta workers compensation lawyer understands the negotiating tricks and tactics insurance companies use, from low-ball offers to misleading ‘final offers’ that really aren’t. With a few exceptions, workers’ compensation lawyers are more likely to participate in productive negotiations with insurers than applicants acting by themselves.

Your lawyer can also make sure that your settlement agreement is written properly to avoid negative consequences in the future. For example, if you’re applying or receiving Social Security disability benefits, an improperly designed settlement could rob you off hundreds of dollars in benefits every month due to the workers’ compensation offset. With a good lawyer, you’ll be able to have a reasonable estimate of your future medical expenses, so that the settlement agreement can take that into consideration.

Although it is true that workers’ comp judges approve settlements, it would be unwise to rely on the judge to adequately protect your interests. In settlement negotiations, having a lawyer is necessary.

Represent You at Your Workers’ Compensation Trial or Hearing

In case you’re unable to reach a settlement, your case is moved to an administrative hearing or trial before a workers’ comp judge. During the investigation process, your lawyer will collect depositions of witnesses, request your medical records, conduct legal research, write your ‘pleadings’ and make sure that all necessary document is submitted on time. At the hearing, your lawyer will be laying out a ‘theory of case’ explaining why you should get the benefits, make opening and closing arguments, examine witnesses, and raise objections to any improper actions.

If you are not happy with the result of your hearing, your attorney can also help appeal the decision.

Give You Advice on Third-Party Claims and Other Benefits

Apart from a worker’s comp claim, you may also want to file a personal injury claim against a third-party (or someone besides your employer) whose negligence caused or played a role in the injury. The most common targets of third-party suits are drivers and faulty equipment manufacturers. A personal injury claim might be more valuable than a workers’ comp claim, because the damages can include pain, suffering, and loss of potential income.

Your Atlanta workers compensation lawyer can also give advice on how you can potentially qualify for other benefits such as wage reimbursement, vocational rehabilitation assistance, short-term disability, long-term disability insurance benefits, and Social Security disability.

Workers’ Compensation Attorney’s Fees

Most workers’ compensation lawyers work under a contingency fee plan, which means they do not charge money up front and only get paid if you win your case. Several states strictly limit the amount that workers’ compensation can charge, with fees often capped at 10% to 20% of your benefits. Attorney’s fees also have to be approved by the workers’ compensation judge or appeals board.

When Should You Contact a Workers’ Compensation Lawyer?

If your claim is simple, straightforward, and low value, you may not need a lawyer and can just get away with representing yourself. But there are instances where hiring a lawyer is necessary, especially if:

• You do not have enough medical evidence to support your claim

• Your claim is high-value or you have you’ve sustained serious, long-term injuries

• Your employer challenges your claim

• You’re uncertain whether you should accept a settlement, or

• Your claim was denied, and you need to appeal

If any of the above is true for you, contact an experience workers’ compensation attorney immediately.