Every year, billions of dollars are paid out in workers’ compensation claims in the United States.
Although a majority of workers’ compensation claims don’t result in lawsuits, it’s still advisable to have a workers’ compensation attorney representing your business. You see, work-related injuries can place your business finances in jeopardy and raise your insurance premiums.
Most of the time, workplace injuries are accidents, and the insurance company will cover their benefits without issues. Other times, however, employees will choose to go to court for various reasons. It could get to a point where you need to defend yourself, and your business.
So when do you need to hire a worker’s comp lawyer?
In this post, we’ll guide you through some of the signs and circumstances that could warrant the need for a workers’ compensation attorney.
1. If You Don’t Have a Worker’s Compensation Policy
It may come as a surprise because worker’s compensation is mandatory, but about 26% of small businesses don’t have one. Over 36% more were not sure whether they are required to provide coverage for their employees. This is a crime in itself, and it could result in both penalties and criminal charges against you.
If you fall in one of these categories and don’t have a workers’ comp policy in the state you do business in, then you desperately need a worker’s compensation attorney. You see, one of your employees could get injured on the job.
They will file for a worker’s comp claim, and when they find out you don’t have a policy, they could file a lawsuit. If the department of labor finds out you don’t have one, the penalties you face can be quite steep, and there is even a chance you could be shut down.
2. If Your Employee Rejects Their Right to Benefits
If your injured employee hires a professional workers’ compensation lawyer, they may be advised to file a lawsuit depending on the case. If this happens, they could refuse the benefits you and your insurance company offers them. You see, when an employee accepts benefits., or a settlement, they waive their right to sue you.
However, if they reject it, they are within their rights to pursue litigation and get the compensation they feel they deserve. Now, most workers’ compensation policies have liability insurance that covers legal costs in case of lawsuits. This includes the costs involved in hiring legal counsel.
In this case, it’s advisable to hire a professional workers compensation attorney to represent you in court.
3. If the Employee Disobeyed Company Safety Policies
If there’s one thing you need to understand about workers’ comp is that it’s no-fault insurance. Regardless of how the accident occurred and how your employee sustained their injuries, as long as they were in the workplace, you’re obligated to compensate them. However, there are exceptions to the rule, and this is where you need a lawyer.
If you can prove direct disobedience on safety rules stipulated in your workplace, you can discredit your employee. This means that if your employee was negligent, you can’t be held liable for the accident. However, it’s not as straightforward as it sounds because you need to prove a few things.
You need to prove that you have adapted to reasonable rules for the safety and protection of your employees. You must prove that the accident was a direct result of the employee disobeying those rules.
Also, that they had knowledge of those rules prior to the accident. You must also prove your consistency in ensuring the rules are followed at all times. And that you make reasonable efforts to enforce those rules. Having a professional workers’ comp attorney can go a long way to prove this.
4. If You Think an Employee Is Faking Their Injuries
Workers’ compensation fraud has been around for years, and it’s not uncommon for employees to get greedy and lie about their injuries. Some employees commit fraud to collect benefits they’re not entitled to. If it happens, you’ll still have to pay higher insurance premiums for your insurance.
This means you should have a professional attorney preventing this from happening. Employees can commit workers’ comp fraud in several ways. First, they could make up a fake injury or illness simply to get time off work, vacation money, or other selfish interests. Second, even if they did sustain injuries, they could exaggerate them to get higher benefits.
Third, they may be lying about their injuries being work-related. It could be an old injury that resurfaces or one that happened somewhere else, and they think they can get away with it.
5. If the Injuries Were Self Inflicted
In some states, self-inflicted injuries have to be accidental for employees to receive benefits. In most states, though, if the employer can prove that the self-inflicted injuries were intentional, they don’t have to compensate their employees.
Some self-inflicted injuries could be a result of misconduct, or the employee was the initial physical aggressor. In these cases they don’t deserve compensation.
If the employees were committing a crime, were intoxicated, or under the influence of drugs, they don’t deserve compensation. However, you have to prove that these aspects caused the injuries, so it’s a complicated process. Having a professional workers’ comp lawyer goes a long way in saving your business from unscrupulous employees.
Bonus Point: If the Injuries Happened Off-Site
Off-site injuries are quite complicated. You need a professional workers’ compensation attorney to navigate these waters. The thing is, if employees sustain injuries off-site doing something that is work-related, they are entitled to compensation. Determining whether the injury is work-related is the real trick.
For instance, if an employee gets into a car accident while traveling from a work-related conference, they are entitled to benefits. The conference was incidental to the work they performed.
The employee needs to prove that the injuries arose in the course of their employment. This, however, does not include idiopathic injuries, and you need a professional lawyer to prove this. Workers’ comp does not cover employee lunch breaks.
But if you ask your employee to bring you a sandwich while at it, it may be a caveat to show they were running an errand for you. If the employee sustains an injury during that break, and prove that you were benefiting from their actions, they will be entitled to compensation.
Hiring the Best Workers’ Compensation Attorney
If you are experiencing any of these signs, then it would be in the best interest of your business to hire a reputable workers’ compensation attorney. If you have more questions about workers’ compensation claims and lawsuits, please head to our blog section.
We have in-depth and informative posts about all topics related to workers’ comp, and we strive to keep you informed about all aspects. Beyond that, if you have any questions, please get in touch with us, and we’ll be more than glad to help!