Written By: Jenna L. King, Esq.
When you suffer a disabling work-related injury, you quickly come to understand that beyond managing the physical issues related to that injury, there are also a host of legal issues and processes to navigate at the same time. For many injured workers, their workers’ compensation claim is their first experience with the legal system. Dealing with physical and emotional stress of the work injury, coupled with the complexities of the Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Act can be overwhelming.
After suffering a work injury, your best choice is always to be represented by an experienced attorney. Since 1979, Martin Law has been representing injured workers in workers’ compensation matters. Here, workers are not only represented by attorneys who are certified as Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation specialists, but by an entire legal team. From your initial interview with a client intake specialist to medical and administrative professionals supporting you throughout the claims process, our skilled team will be behind you so you can focus on the healing process and your future.
So why should you hire a workers’ compensation attorney?
Level the Playing Field with Your Employer
It is extremely important to know your rights when it comes to workers’ compensation benefits. Especially because your employer is most likely going to have a better understanding of the system than you.
Every employer in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania is required to carry workers’ compensation insurance. As such, your employer is most likely going to have the power of an insurance company behind them that deals with workers’ compensation claims all day, every day. Moreover, your employer and its insurance company will have their own legal representation to defend against your claim.
In order to ensure you are treated fairly and receive all the benefits you are entitled to under the law, you should consult with an attorney and obtain solid legal advice from the beginning. Even if it appears that your employer and its insurance company are completely cooperating with you, this can quickly change. Without an attorney, you run the risk of forfeiting benefits that you would otherwise be entitled to or significantly harming your likelihood of success in future litigation.
Play it safe and smart – take advantage of the FREE Martin Law consultation as soon as possible following a work injury.
Ensure You Negotiate and Accept the Best Possible Settlement Offer
Since 1996, the Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Act has allowed injured workers to compromise their right to workers’ compensation benefits whether their claim is accepted or denied. Currently, about 80% of disputed cases end in settlement. However, many undisputed cases also settle for a lump sum, even where there is no threat to the injured worker’s entitlement to ongoing weekly disability checks.
Because Pennsylvania allows fully acknowledged claims to be settled, claims adjusters are permitted to reach out to injured workers directly and make settlement offers. In such cases, no dispute over the worker’s disability and impairment exists, yet the adjuster, seeking to close the claim, will succeed in persuading the worker to settle. In many of these cases, the injured worker does not have counsel because his or her benefits were never challenged by the employer.
In order for a settlement to be approved, a hearing must be held before a Workers’ Compensation Judge. However, the Judge is limited to deciding whether the employee understands the full legal significance of the settlement, and not whether it is in his or her best interests. As such, where the injured worker lacks counsel, there is no safety net to protect against accepting a low-ball offer.
Accordingly, it is imperative that you have legal representation in order to ensure that any settlement offer is in your best interest. Any decision to settle your case should be discussed with your family and an experienced workers’ compensation attorney. Only an attorney who focuses their practice on workers’ compensation will be able to advise you on what your case is truly worth.
Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Litigation is Complex
The Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation system is complex and extremely litigious. The filing of a Workers’ Compensation Petition with the Bureau of Workers’ Compensation begins the legal process of litigating workers’ compensation claims. There are many different types of petitions, all of which involve a serious legal dispute that requires the immediate attention of an attorney.
The current practice of workers’ compensation law rests upon complicated statutes, daunting regulations, and often unintelligible court precedents that are beyond the grip of the typical worker. Meanwhile, the proof required in many disputed cases consists of expert medical opinions, the refinement and presentation of which even experienced attorneys take years to perfect.
Given all of the above, it is not only important to be represented by an attorney in your workers’ compensation case, but by an attorney whose practice is devoted to representing injured workers. Again, at Martin Law, all of our partners are certified workers’ compensation specialists. There is no fee for an initial consultation with our office, and in most cases, our attorneys are willing to advance the costs of litigation for you. When you select Martin Law to represent you in a workers’ compensation proceeding, you can be confident that your rights as an injured worker will be protected and that we will obtain all the benefits to which you are entitled by law.