After a work injury, you may be left scratching your head trying to figure out what else you need to do other than tell your employer. Do you need a workers’ comp lawyer? You might. The next steps in your workers’ compensation claim can be tricky. The insurance company usually is not very helpful. Especially if you never had a workers’ comp claim before, it’s important to know that a workers’ comp attorney can help you get medical treatment and wage loss benefits after an accident.
After you report your work injury to your supervisor, your employer should report the accident to their workers’ compensation insurance carrier. However, not all employers report the injury to their insurance company. There are many reasons for this, but some of the most common are:
In these situations, you will typically be waiting to hear from the insurance company, but no one ever calls. Even if it is reported to the insurance company, they are usually slow in getting in contact with you. Not hearing from the insurance company is a bad sign that things may not be going as they are supposed to.
When the insurance company does finally reach out to you, they may want to take a recorded statement, or ask if it is okay that they record a phone call while they ask you questions about your accident. NEVER give the insurance company a recorded statement without consulting with a lawyer first. During the recorded statement, the insurance company will be looking for any reason to deny your claim. They will also likely ask you leading questions that would benefit them — and they often do not ask questions that would be helpful to your claim.
Remember, insurance companies don’t like paying claims. Don’t give them the opportunity to deny your claim from the get-go. Insurance companies will use your recorded statement against you in your claim. Don’t give them evidence to use against you.
If the workers’ comp insurance company does not dispute your claim, they should send you “agreement forms.” This form should list your injuries, the time periods they will pay you for being out of work, and the amount they will pay you each week. Review these forms very carefully. If the form is correct you should sign the form and send it back to the insurance company.
The insurance company should in turn sign the form and file it with the Virginia Workers’ Compensation Commission. On receipt, the Workers’ Compensation Commission will issue an “Award Order.” The Award Order obligates the insurance company to pay for all of your medical treatment and wage loss benefits, as well as potentially ongoing wage loss benefits until you are medically cleared to go back to work. If the insurance company does not send you agreement forms or does not file the agreement forms with the Virginia Workers’ Compensation Commission, you most definitely need a lawyer.
Insurance companies will often give you the run around that they don’t want to send you agreement forms until your next doctor’s appointment. If you don’t ask for agreement forms, they may not send them to you at all. Being placed under an award is the only way to guarantee your benefits will be paid properly.
The insurance company does not want to be obligated to pay you for being out of work.Once they become obligated, it is difficult for them to terminate their obligation. That means you keep getting a weekly wage loss check until you are cleared to go back to full duty, or your employer brings you back to work paying you as much as you made before the accident. Knowing that you will have money coming in is a huge relief when you're injured and unable to work.
At Renfro & Renfro, we know the insurance companies’ tricks. All of our attorneys used to represent insurance companies. When the insurance company refuses to send you agreement forms, we take steps to push them into doing what is right or face a judge to present evidence that would explain why they are denying your claim. We aggressively pursue your case on your behalf.Typically, the only thing you need to do is continue going to the doctor and work on getting better. We handle all communications with the insurance company or their lawyer. We speak with your doctors about all filings with the Workers’ Compensation Commission, gather evidence for the hearing, investigate defenses asserted by the insurance company, and go to court if the insurance company will not agree to accept your case.
At Renfro & Renfro, our attorneys represent injured workers on a contingency fee basis, which means we don’t get paid unless we get you benefits or a settlement. All attorney’s fees in a workers’ compensation claim are approved by the Virginia Workers’ Compensation Commission. They typically are directly deducted from the money the insurance company owes you, so you don’t have to pay the attorney’s fees out of pocket.
Our experienced Richmond workers’ compensation lawyers at Renfro & Renfro provide a free consultation and case evaluation to work accident victims. We serve clients in the Greater Richmond Region, including in Petersburg and Dinwiddie, and throughout the Commonwealth of Virginia. Whether or not you’re certain that you need a workers’ comp lawyer to be fully compensated for your injuries, we welcome you to schedule a free consultation by using our online form.