When an employee is injured on the job, they are most likely entitled to workers’ compensation. While workers’ compensation claims may cover medical bills and lost wages, claimants are often short-changed when they are trying to recover expenses related to their work injury. If you are experiencing difficulty with your claim, an experienced work comp attorney may be able to help. Call Tyroler Leonard Injury Law at (651) 259-1113 for a free consultation about what a workers’ compensation lawyer can do in order to ensure your legal rights remain protected.
What Is Workers’ Compensation?
In almost every state, employers are required to carry workers’ compensation insurance. Though each state’s workers’ compensation laws vary slightly, they are largely similar.
In Wisconsin, for example, the Department of Workforce Development requires employers to carry insurance if they:
- Have three or more employees
- Have one or more full-time or part-time employees to whom they pay $500 or more in a quarter for work performed in Wisconsin.
- Are a farmer with six or more workers on the same day for any twenty days in the calendar year
- Are an out-of-state employer with employees working in Wisconsin
According to the Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry, the Minnesota workers’ compensation statute applies to all employers, regardless of how many employees they have, subject to a few limited exceptions. Note that for purposes of workers’ compensation statutes, employees generally do not include workers who are classified as independent contractors.
What Does Workers’ Compensation Cover?
Workers’ compensation insurance covers expenses incurred when an employee is injured in the scope of their employment. What makes workers’ compensation different from a negligence lawsuit is that the damages available to the injured party are limited by statute. Again, each state’s statute varies, but in general, compensation for workplace injuries covers:
- Medical bills
- Lost wages
- Permanent total disability
- Temporary or permanent partial disability
Non-economic damages, like emotional distress and pain and suffering, are not recoverable under workers’ compensation statutes.
Another significant difference between workers’ comp claims and private lawsuits is that the employee generally does not need to prove that the employer was at fault for the accident. Whereas in a traditional negligence suit, the victim would need to prove that the defendant’s breached a duty and caused their injuries, employers are strictly liable under the workers’ comp statutes. This means that employees need only prove that they were injured on the job to file a workers’ compensation claim.
Workers’ compensation generally will not cover:
- Intentionally self-inflicted injuries
- Accidents caused by the intoxication of the employee
What Does a Workers’ Compensation Lawyer Do?
Although many employees handle their workers’ compensation claims by themselves, there are many circumstances where an experienced workers’ compensation lawyer may help your claim. The following are a few of the many ways a workers’ compensation lawyer can assist.
A workers’ comp lawyer will need to do extensive research into your claim. Insufficient evidence can be a basis for the insurer to deny your claim.
To receive a fair settlement, a claimant needs to have complete records of the incident. The discovery process may involve:
- Coordinating medical treatment and getting expert medical opinions
- Collecting medical bills
- Taking depositions of witnesses, the employer, and the injured employee
- Collecting relevant employment records
- Reviewing employee handbooks and employment policies
- Investigating the employee’s failure to adhere to health and safety requirements
This process can be daunting without the aid of an experienced attorney. If you have questions about what a workers’ compensation lawyer may do for you, Call Tyroler Leonard Injury Law today for a free consultation at (651) 259-1113.
Negotiating Your Claim
The process of settling a workers’ compensation claim is not always easy. A workers’ compensation claimant may wish to have a strong advocate by their side to help them negotiate a settlement with the insurance carrier. One mistake some claimants make is underestimating the value of their claim. An experienced attorney may identify any missing costs and expenses to ensure your settlement covers all eligible compensation. A workers’ compensation attorney may be able to use the evidence gathered in discovery to persuade the insurance carrier to settle for the full amount of your claim.
Some of the factors a workers’ compensation attorney may use to argue your case include:
- The extent of your injuries
- Whether the injury has impaired your ability to work or perform daily life activities
- The cost of past and ongoing medical treatment, including future medical expenses
- Any penalties or back pay your employer may owe you
Negotiating with an insurance company can be intimidating. Consider working with an attorney who has years of experience at the negotiating table and who understands the manipulative tactics insurance companies often use.
Bringing Third-Party Claims
In some cases, an injured party may have additional claims outside of workers’ compensation. Although you generally cannot sue your employer for on-the-job injuries, there are some circumstances where you may be able to bring a lawsuit against a third party that caused or contributed to your injuries.
For example, if you were injured on the job due to a defective machine, you can most likely recover workers’ compensation for this workplace injury. However, you may also have a product liability claim against the manufacturer, retailer, or mechanic who negligently manufactured, sold, or repaired a product defectively. Similarly, if you were injured at work due to the intentional misconduct of a co-worker, you may have a claim against that individual, in addition to the workers’ compensation claim. A workers’ compensation attorney may be able to help you identify these additional claims and ensure you are holding all of the at-fault parties liable for your injuries.
Consider Visiting With an Experienced Workers’ Compensation Lawyer
At Tyroler Leonard Injury Law, we believe employees have a right to be compensated for their injuries when they are injured at work. Workers’ compensation laws can be complex to navigate alone, and claimants should not have to deal with insurers’ tricky tactics while they should be focusing on recovering from their injuries. Call our legal team today at (651) 259-1113 to find out more about what a workers’ compensation lawyer can do for you.