On the job, injuries and illness happen. In 2019 alone, nearly 900,000 nonfatal injuries and illnesses caused workers to miss at least one day of work.
Most employers have workers’ compensation insurance that helps to pay medical care, lost wages and more for employees who suffer work-related injury or illness. Of course, not every work-related injury or illness results in a workers’ compensation claim. Likewise, not every injured employee will need a lawyer.
How Do I Know if I Need a Lawyer?
Generally speaking, the workers’ compensation system is designed to be easy for workers to understand. It is an administrative process that should be straightforward if your claim is not being disputed by your employer or its insurance company. However, some scenarios benefit from securing legal counsel.
If an employee is injured as a result of an employer’s intentional act, that employee might be able to use a personal injury lawyer in addition to a lawyer who specializes in workers’ compensation. However, if you just experienced a work-related injury and that injury is relatively minor, you may not need a lawyer. It may not be necessary to hire a lawyer if your injuries:
- are clearly work-related
- require little medical treatment
- result in minimal missed work
- result in temporary injuries
Personal Injury Claim v. Workers’ Compensation Claim
If you have been injured, your focus should be on recovery. While both personal injury and workers’ compensation claims deal with injuries, they can be very different. Personal injury claims are usually caused by someone other than a co-worker or employer, whereas worker’s compensation claims are usually the result of something that happened while you were working.
What’s more, personal injury claims are designed to recover money for pain and suffering. Workers’ compensation claims do not. They are destined to pay for lost wages, medical treatment and disability rating. Workers’ compensation insurance companies can also file what is called a subrogation lien for repayment of certain medical bills.
There can be overlap between personal injury claims and workers’ compensation claims. Sometimes, you can even bring a personal injury claim in addition to a workers’ compensation claim.
For example, imagine you are driving your company car and you are in a car accident where the other driver is at fault. In that case, you may be able to recover damages from the other driver on top of your workers’ compensation claim. Imagine you are injured because the equipment you are operating at work malfunctions. You may also be able to file a personal injury claim if your injury is the result of that defective or dangerous product. These personal injury cases can be extremely complex because they typically involve a lawsuit against a manufacturer. They are separate and distinct from your workers’ compensation claim and do not mean you are getting double recovery.
Just from these two examples, you can see that it could be complicated to make sense of a personal injury claim and a workers’ compensation claim. That is why it is a good idea to hire a lawyer to represent you when both types of claims are involved. Positive resolution of the scenarios set forth above can be complicated if you have little to no knowledge of the workers’ compensation system and/or personal injury law.
Will a Lawyer Be Expensive?
Personal injury and workers’ compensation lawyers typically do not charge an hourly rate. Instead, they usually work on what is called a contingency basis. The lawyer takes a percentage of any workers’ compensation benefits they help you recover. In a personal injury claim, the lawyer takes a percentage of any amount you recover for damages. There is a maximum amount, or cap, on contingency fees in workers’ compensation cases in many states. The percentage is generally somewhere between 15% and 25%.
Being injured is never expected, whether the injury happens at work or not. Your life is upended in a split second and you may be wondering what to do next. If you have been injured in an accident or on the job, you probably need the help and guidance of a personal injury attorney. As many as 95% of all cases settle before trial, and odds are you’re likely to get a much higher settlement offer when a lawyer is involved. Lawyers understand the law, know how to negotiate and use various tools to build your case.
With decades of combined experience, McManus Law is prepared to guide you through the process. To learn more about our personal injury attorneys, please schedule your free consultation by calling 845-986-7660.