An earlier version of this post was published on February 24, 2014.
A very common question for Vermonters who’ve been injured at work is whether they need a lawyer. I’ve talked to several people who say “if someone needs an attorney for their workers comp claim, it must be really bad.” The truth is, a Vermont workers comp lawyer can do a lot more than help you fight the insurance company when they deny your Vermont workers’ compensation claim. The longer your Vermont workers’ comp claim lasts, the more a lawyer can ensure the insurance company doesn’t terminate your benefits too early, that you get the best medical care, and that nothing happens to jeopardize your claim.
It’s true that some Vermont work injuries may not require an attorney’s involvement. But what about the claims that are dragging on forever, or becoming a major headache even though the insurance company is paying? I can take the stress out of your claim by acting as a “middleman” between you and the insurance adjuster. I will ensure someone is holding the insurer’s feet to the fire and that your weekly checks — which are vital to your family’s livelihood — must be paid. I will ensure that when your doctor says you need more physical therapy, or should try a new prescription, the insurance company actually pays for it. Many of my clients love that hiring me eliminates a great deal of emotional stress connected with their claim — just read my testimonials.
Many injured employees also don’t realize the full extent of workers’ compensation benefits they’re entitled to, and the insurance companies often don’t volunteer that information. Hiring an attorney will ensure the insurance company doesn’t avoid paying you everything Vermont law allows. This is especially important when your injury — however minor — could have lasting effects well into the future.
Of course, having a Vermont workers’ comp lawyer is most helpful when your workers’ compensation claim has been denied or your checks are being cut off. Insurance companies look for every possible basis to deny your claim — whether its a preexisting condition or a delay in reporting the injury to your employer. If they find a foothold to deny your claim, they’ll file a Form 2 denial with the Department of Labor. If you don’t have a lawyer to fight it, there’s a good chance you won’t receive any workers’ compensation benefits! I hold the insurance companies accountable for frivolously denying claims. I will participate in the Department of Labor’s proceedings and deal with the insurance company when they try to play games. That way you can just focus on getting better.
How much will you have to pay? Many people are afraid to hire a Vermont workers’ compensation lawyer because “lawyers are expensive.” In reality, however, you will likely end up receiving greater benefits if you hire an attorney — and you’ll avoid the headaches of handling the claim yourself. I don’t take anything from the weekly TTD checks you receive. I am paid only a percentage of whatever lump sum the insurance company eventually agrees (or is ordered) to pay. I can also help you negotiate a much larger settlement than if you’re representing yourself. Without an attorney, the insurance company will offer you much less than your claim is worth. I personally witnessed many settlements in which an injured employee without a lawyer agreed to take tens of thousands of dollars less than he or she could have demanded.
In the end, hiring a Vermont workers’ comp lawyer is a personal decision that depends on how comfortable you are dealing with insurance adjusters, the Vermont Department of Labor, and attorneys. Some claims are quick and can be handled without assistance, but most are not. The key is not missing out on additional benefits by assuming the insurance company has paid everything it’s supposed to. I have years of experience with insurance companies, attorneys, and the Department of Labor, and would be happy to make sure that doesn’t happen. Contact me today for a free consultation!