Why do I need a lawyer for a workers’ compensation claim?

When wanting to make a compensation claim after sustaining an injury at work, you need to harness the right support in order to achieve the best result. An experienced legal team can work with everyone involved, including unions, to negotiate on your behalf and resolve issues in your favour.

How a lawyer can help

If an accident is work-related, workers’ compensation is payable no matter who was at fault.

This doesn’t mean that things are always straightforward. Remember that the interests of the employer and the insurance company are at cross purposes with your own. They’ll likely want to minimise the pay out, while you want to make sure your medical expenses and lost income are properly covered. You may also need to push for any permanent impairment, pain and suffering to be recognised and properly compensated for.

A lawyer with experience in workers’ compensation cases will spot any attempts by the insurer or employer to undermine your prospect of a good settlement. For example, some insurers reportedly engage in ‘doctor-shopping’. That means they purportedly look for a medical practitioner who will assess your entitlement to be minimal.

There’s also the chance that they might offer you a settlement that’s too low. This is why you should always get legal advice before accepting a settlement offer. Your lawyer will be able to assess whether your long term costs could end up greater than expected, especially if your injury turns out to be more serious than you first thought.

Lawyers and unions work together

If you’re a member of a trade union, the union may well be a significant source of support. The work accident in which you were injured could signal that there’s a risk in your workplace threatens the health and safety of others who work for the same employer, or in the same industry.

Most work accidents arise from a combination of factors, primarily unsafe systems of work. It’s a mistake to focus solely on the momentary carelessness or oversight of an individual, when there are almost always underlying conditions without which, the accident may not have happened.

These underlying conditions could include aspects like a lack of effective training, failures in communication, unsuitable or inadequately maintained equipment or pressure on workers to hurry or cut costs.

In these circumstances, the union will be concerned for its members, and keen to draw attention to the shortcomings of the organisation’s safety management system. This means they are potentially on your side.

An experienced lawyer will understand this and will seek to consult and coordinate with relevant union personnel if appropriate, as well as talking to others who can provide insight into the causes and consequences of the accident. Depending on the circumstances, this could include your co-workers, independent accident investigators, medical practitioners and others – with your consent, of course.

Get the best result

Achieving the best outcome is not just about knowing the process and the ins and outs of workers’ compensation law. Nor is it just about gathering information and filling in forms.

While it can ease the stress to have someone take care of the paperwork for you, a good lawyer does much more than that. By coordinating the right people, being a good communicator and representing your interests in discussions and negotiations, a good lawyer will be able to get the best deal for you, so you can focus on recovering and getting your life back in order.

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