Injured workers often ask whether they need to retain a lawyer to handle their workers’ comp claim. Although an attorney is not required, it is highly recommended that an injured worker retain counsel. A workers’ comp claim lawyer can assist with the claims process and represent the worker at all proceedings before the Board. This article explains why a workers’ comp claim lawyer is an asset to an injured worker.
Workers’ Compensation Hearings
The Board will hold a hearing in the event there is a disagreement on a claim. A workers’ comp Law Judge will oversee the hearing. More importantly, the insurance carrier will hire an attorney to represent it at hearings. That attorney will be familiar with NY Workers’ Compensation Law. They will also be familiar with the claims process. Technically, the Board does not require an injured worker to hire an attorney. However, an injured worker is at a disadvantage without one, particularly during the hearing process.
Sometimes, the Board will hold a trial to resolve an issue in a case. This trial may involve taking testimony and submitting written briefs. A skilled workers comp lawyer who is familiar with the art of cross examination and persuasion is invaluable in such a scenario. A lawyer’s familiarity with case law can also make or break a case and tip the scales in the injured worker’s favor.
Do I Need a Lawyer for a Workers Comp Deposition
The Board may direct depositions on an issue if a workers’ comp insurance carrier’s doctor disagrees with a treating physician. This often arises when a treating doctor recommends surgery. The insurance carrier’s doctor will often say that the surgery is not necessary. Or, they may claim the need for surgery is not caused by a condition related to the case, such as pre-existing arthritis. Treatment is authorized on a workers’ comp claim only where it is related to the job-related accident or condition.
If the parties cannot agree, the Judge will allow them to cross examine medical experts on the issue. This means the injured worker will have the opportunity to question the carrier’s doctor, under oath, about his or her medical opinion. The purpose of this deposition is to attack the insurance carrier doctor’s credibility. Similarly, the insurance carrier will hire an attorney to cross-examine the injured worker’s physician as to their opinion. The Judge will then choose the opinion of the doctor who testified most credibly. An injured worker should seek a skilled lawyer who is familiar with the Medical Treatment Guidelines for workers’ compensation. These guidelines are the road map to obtaining a favorable decision on a disputed medical issue.
Other Ways a Workers Comp Lawyer Can Assist
A workers’ comp lawyer can also assist on a claim by providing guidance throughout the process. The lawyer may assist with obtaining medical records, getting approval of medical procedures, and ensuring that weekly pay is set at the highest possible rate. A workers’ comp lawyer is also familiar with how an insurance carrier will value a specific case. This knowledge allows the workers comp claim lawyer to negotiate a favorable settlement.
When it comes to settlement, the attorney will negotiate the deal and provide a recommendation to the injured worker. The attorney will also draft necessary settlement paperwork. The Board must approve all settlements. A workers’ comp claim lawyer can take steps to expedite the settlement process. They will also represent the worker at a settlement hearing to ensure the agreement is approved. Failure to properly prepare for a settlement hearing can lead to the Board rejecting the agreement or other delay.
How to Retain a Lawyer for a Workers Comp Claim
Most workers’ comp lawyers offer a free consultation. Here at The Platta Law Firm, we will gladly consult you on your case at no charge. Reach out to the Platta Law Firm today and get the peace of mind you deserve as you navigate the workers’ compensation claims process.