Do I Need an Attorney? / Choosing an Attorney
Nothing in the Commonwealth statutes requires injured workers to hire an attorney to file for workers’ compensation benefits.
There is no board or judge that will turn you down for coverage because you don’t have legal representation.
Still, there is ample evidence showing that hiring a lawyer significantly improves your chances of securing benefits, especially if your claim for benefits is disputed, as about 50 percent of all Massachusetts cases are.
The Department of Industrial Accidents has asserted that when a claim is disputed, “It is strongly advised that you seek legal counsel to protect your rights and interests, due to the complexity of workers’ compensation law.”
At the Jeffrey Glassman Injury Lawyers, we recognize what injured workers stand to gain by proper legal representation.
- We have extensive knowledge of Massachusetts workers’ compensation law and procedures.
- We know the kind of factors that can bolster a case or hinder it.
- We know the loopholes insurance companies seek to exploit.
- We work to vigorously counter the evidence against our clients.
- We’re familiar with the proof burdens and evidence standards of the Department of Industrial Accidents, as well as the appellate courts.
- We can analyze a case to determine whether there is a potential third-party claim for which you could recover additional damages.
It is especially important to have a lawyer when the injury or illness is serious and there is much at stake.
There may be some minor cases in which it makes sense for a worker to represent himself. For example, if the injury was relatively slight – a twisted ankle or a laceration requiring a few stitches, for example –worker may be able to simply file the claim on their own. There is no question as to causation or extent, so the insurer simply grants approval and that’s it.
But there are some situations in which having a lawyer is critical. Those include:
- Employer disputes causation of injury was work-related.
- Worker has a pre-existing condition.
- Injuries were extensive/ involved a lot of time off work.
- Worker is unsure he or she will be able to return to work.
- Medical benefits are denied/ disputed.
- Employer does not have workers’ compensation insurance as required by law.
The Department of Industrial Accidents clearly informs workers that while no worker needs an attorney as a prerequisite to prevail, representing oneself during these proceedings is “Not recommended in most cases.”How an Attorney Can Help
There are many steps our legal team takes to help streamline the process for our clients.
- Filing the Claim. Under Massachusetts law, it’s the employer who is responsible to submit a notification to the insurance company and the Department of Industrial Accidents. However, if an employer refuses to do so, employees can submit their own claim forms. Workers can do this on their own, but if an employer is already on the offense at this stage, it’s best to have an attorney handle this aspect for you.
- Working With Medical Experts. In analyzing the totality of the workers’ compensation claim, your attorney may need to hold a consultation with medical experts who can help determine a reasonable course of medical treatment now and into the future, which is essential to determining what type of benefits are appropriate.
- Weighing Potential for Lawsuit. You can’t file a lawsuit against your employer for the circumstances that led to a work injury or illness. But you may have other options – most notably, third-party liability. This is when a person or entity outside of your employer acted with negligence, resulting in whole or in part to the cause of your occupational injury. For example, if you were driving a truck for work and were struck by a drunk driver, a lawsuit against that driver would be a form of third-party liability. There may also be grounds for litigation against your employer if there is a violation of anti-retaliation laws after you file your workers’ compensation claim.
- Handling Appeals. Even claims for benefits that are valid are sometimes denied for reasons that aren’t proper. The appeals process for this is extensive, involving hearings before the Department of Industrial Accidents and, eventually, taking the matter to the civil courts.
Note that if you win, the law requires the insurer to pay their fee if you win the case.Choosing a Lawyer
Choosing a workers’ compensation lawyer in Boston can feel overwhelming. Commercials, internet marketing, and print ads often contain more keywords than substance. It can be tough to know just based on a cursory ad search which law firms provide quality legal counsel from dedicated, caring attorneys.
You may try the following:
- Recommendations from people you trust. Family members, colleagues, friends, etc. State and local bar associations may also provide assistance.
- Internet searches. Look at the attorney’s web page. Examine whether there is an emphasis on workers’ compensation cases, whether testimonials are provided and if there is a history of case success.
- Interview the attorney. As about the attorney’s level of experience, the percentage of the practice devoted to workers’ compensation, availability of attorney throughout the case, an explanation of how the case may move through the system and how fees are structured.
Our goal is to help you obtain the benefits to which you are entitled. Call our offices to learn more about how we can help.
Contact Jeffrey Glassman Injury Lawyers today for a free and confidential consultation.
Call (617) 777-7777 – NO FEE UNLESS SUCCESSFUL