There were recorded 327,060 job-related sprains, strains, and tears; 229,190 injuries due to slips, trips or falls; and 170,450 back injuries recorded in 2013. That same year over 900,000 occupational injuries and illnesses caused workers to miss days of work, resulting in the average U.S. worker missing eight days of work because of an occupational injury. If you’ve suffered an injury while on the job, you may be entitled to workers compensation. If you are, your first question is probably, “Do I need to hire a worker compensation lawyer?”
When you’re injured on the job, you have the right to file a workers compensation claim to your State Board of Workers Compensation. You can file this claim yourself or with the help of a qualified worker compensation attorney. You may not have someone who is not a licensed attorney represent you.
Determining if you need a worker compensation lawyer is about as easy as determining what will be involved in representing yourself. Over the course of your workers compensation case, you’ll be required to follow specific procedures, to file various forms, present evidence to a judge, and adhere to strict deadlines. Failure to accomplish any one of these things can result in a dismissal of your case or denial of the workers comp benefits you’re owed.
Among the benefits of working with a worker compensation lawyer is that he or she will be able to ensure you meet all of these requirements. A worker compensation lawyer licensed in Arizona will know the rules and regulations specific to Arizona and will also know where to find the necessary forms and how to file them. An experienced Arizona workers comp lawyer can inform you of what exactly will be required in your case, keep you on track and help you avoid any potential pitfalls. A workers compensation lawyer can also help you evaluate any settlement offers you receive and help ensure you get the full benefits warranted by your case.
If there is any complexity to your workers comp case, you should immediately hire a lawyer. Examples of complex situations that necessitate a lawyer include:
These are by no means the only circumstances which may warrant a worker compensation lawyer, but hopefully they give you an idea of the complexities that can be introduced into a workers comp case. That being said, there may be times when you can successfully represent yourself.
For very straightforward workplace compensation claims, you may be able to navigate the process without the assistance of an attorney. An example of a straightforward case would be one in which the following are all true:
- Your injuries are minor, such as a sprain or small cut that required only a few stitches
- Your injury caused you to miss very little or no work
- Your employer has readily admitted to the injury occurring at work and the extent of the injury
- You have no pre-existing conditions
If this sounds like your case, you may be able to represent yourself. However, before you commit yourself to self-representation, it’s always a good idea to speak with a workers compensation lawyer first. Many will provide a free consultation and assessment of whether your case is one that can be easily resolved and thus easily handled without a lawyer.