Worker's compensation is a difficult and involved process for employees as well as employers. Even those who report on-the-job injuries immediately may find their cases entangled with a series of legal battles. It is important to know one's rights when negotiating worker's compensation. Being familiar with the law greatly simplifies proceedings.
Speak with Human Resources
The first step in any worker's compensation case is a discussion with the company's Human Resources office. HR should have a clear policy in place that explains how worker's comp is reported and what is needed from the employee. Most will require that each doctor's visit is documented in detail, explaining that all care pertains to the injury that was received while at work. Keep all of these conversations, even short ones, in writing with firm dates. This will make settling the case much easier.
Receive Medical Care
Theoretically, an employee has already received the care they need by the time they seek a settlement. Still, injuries can worsen and it can be more difficult to receive appropriate funding if an employee has been delaying the care they require until they can have money in hand. However, an employee should take into consideration their obligations if there is any question about whether or not the injury occurred at the job site.
Hire an Attorney
A lawyer should be hired if there are any difficulties whatsoever in proving that an injury is a worker's comp issue. Attorneys specializing in worker's compensation can explain state laws. These standards are extremely intricate and constantly change. An attorney should explain from the outset approximately how much compensation one should receive. The employee can then determine whether or not they can justify the expense of hiring legal counsel.
Worker's Compensation Settlement vs. Payments
Once the worker's compensation suit is filed and the employer admits responsibility, it is time to decide how payments are received. Some employers pay medical bills as they are received. Others reimburse employees once they have made the payments. Likewise, a disability check may be sent weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly. Many employees prefer to settle for a lump sum. This payment is important to many individuals because it guarantees a certain amount of money regardless of future changes. Employers and their insurance companies sometimes prefer these settlements because they simplify the process on their end. The employee often receives slightly more money than he or she would if they go the traditional route.
Cons of Worker's Comp Settlement
The most important reason to hire an attorney for worker's comp settlement cases is to aid with the structuring of the case. Employees can find themselves losing money from social security or other entities if a worker's comp case is worded incorrectly. Attorneys specializing in this field can help to make sure that does not happen.