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Workers compensation

What Does a Workers’ Comp Lawyer Do That I Can’t?

Written by
A drawing of the lead workers' compensation lawyer for Atticus.
Victoria Muñoz
Lead Attorney
September 29, 2022  ·  3 min read
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Workers’ compensation can be one of the most difficult branches of law for the average person to understand. That’s why many people seeking workers’ comp should consider hiring a lawyer. The job description for a workers’ comp lawyer is extensive but we’ll cover the key benefits you can expect if you get a lawyer to help with your claim.

What does a workers’ comp lawyer do?

Workers’ compensation is a type of employer insurance coverage that pays you benefits if you get injured or sick because of your job. Workers’ comp lawyers are experts who can help you navigate the entire process and receive the benefits you deserve.

There are multiple types of benefits and they vary widely by state. A lawyer will know the laws in your area, so they can walk you through your state’s regulations. They can help you fill out paperwork and then talk to your doctors, employers, and insurance companies so you don’t need to.

A lawyer can also file appeals for you and represent you in a court hearing. If your employer wants you to sign a settlement, your lawyer will help you settle your case and maximize your compensation.

(If you do need a workers' compensation lawyer, or just want someone to walk you through the basics—Atticus can help. Take our quick quiz to connect with client advocate. They can give you free, personalized legal advice—and match you with a top lawyer if you want one).

How a workers’ comp lawyer can help

First and foremost, a lawyer will help you understand how the workers’ comp process works. Workers’ compensation is one of the most complex branches of law, and a lawyer can answer all of your questions. They can walk you through every step of filing a claim, fill out paperwork for you, and make sure you never miss a deadline.

As part of your workers’ comp, you’ll need to see a doctor for an official diagnosis and a treatment plan. A lawyer will help you choose a doctor, understand the doctor’s reports, and get a treatment plan that doesn’t force you to go back to work before you’re ready.

If your claim is denied, your lawyer can file an appeal and work to build your case. They’ll do things like collect medical evidence, talk to any witnesses, and represent you in court.

Once you receive your final payout, it might be less money than you expected or not enough to cover your medical expenses. This is another area where a lawyer can help. The average settlement with an Atticus lawyer is double the average payout for claimants who don't have a lawyer.

If you want to go back to work while recovering, a lawyer can advise you on whether it might hurt your claim or keep you from receiving full benefits.

Finally, if your injuries will keep you from working for the next year or longer, your lawyer can also help you start the application for long-term benefits like Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI).

5 reasons you need a workers’ comp lawyer

Here are some reasons why you should consider finding a workers’ comp lawyer:

  1. They’ll help you understand the process. The workers’ compensation process is difficult to understand, and laws vary by state. An expert can translate legalese into English for you. They can also track your claim so you never have to worry about forgetting paperwork or missing deadlines.

  2. You will get a bigger payout. Studies show that settlement payouts for workers’ comp claims with a lawyer are five times higher than claims without a lawyer. Even if your injury was minor and you don’t think you’ll get much compensation, a lawyer can explain your options and maximize anything you receive.

  3. They can work with uncooperative employers. In some cases, your employer might not be immediately cooperative with the process. A lawyer can help move things along if your company isn’t filing your claim or even denies your injury happened while working.

  4. Appeals and hearings are hard to win on your own. You’ll especially need a lawyer if your claim is denied. In this case, you have a certain amount of time to appeal the denial. Then you need to gather evidence to support your claim and get the decision changed.

  5. A lawyer will help you gather evidence. To support your claim, you may need evidence like medical records and statements from witnesses. This information is especially hard to gather when you’re injured and stressed. A lawyer will handle that work for you.

Not everyone needs a lawyer, but anyone who is filing a workers’ comp claim will benefit from one (even if you just reach out for an initial consultation). If you still feel unsure whether a lawyer is worth it for you, read our article on situations when you should definitely get a workers’ comp lawyer.

How much does a workers’ comp lawyer cost?

Workers’ comp lawyers are paid on contingency, meaning you only pay them if you win your claim. If you do win, lawyer fees usually range up to about 20% of your benefit payments or your settlement payment if you settle. State law determines how much a workers’ comp lawyer can charge, so the exact fee you pay will depend on where you live.

Learn more about how much a workers' comp lawyer costs.

Tips for finding a workers’ comp lawyer

If you’re looking for a good workplace injury lawyer, look for a law firm specializing in workers’ compensation. Since workers’ comp law is complex, an attorney who focuses on these types of cases are better equipped to help yours succeed.

As always, you should also read reviews of law firms or speak with former clients if possible. You’re looking for a lawyer who is compassionate and trustworthy. Going through an injury is hard enough on its own, so you want to work with someone who will listen to you and take the time to answer all your questions. You can also check whether a lawyer has proven experience helping similar claims succeed. They should also have a high level of medical knowledge.

For more advice, read our article on how to find a good workers’ comp lawyer.

Atticus can help you find a lawyer

Here at Atticus, we offer legal representation and free advice to help people who have been injured on the job get the benefits they deserve. Fill out this short workers’ comp quiz to get started. One of our team members will contact you to learn more about your situation and match you with an experienced lawyer.

Maximize your workers' comp benefits.

Frequently asked questions about workers’ comp lawyers

Do I need a workers’ comp lawyer?

Not everyone needs to work with a lawyer, but a workers’ comp lawyer can especially help if your claim is denied, your medical care is denied, or after you get a settlement offer. To help you make an informed decision, we’ve collected some situations when a workers’ comp lawyer can help.

How much does a workers' comp lawyer cost?

Laws vary by state, but you can generally expect a workers’ comp lawyer fee of between 15% and 33% of your final settlement. That sounds like a lot, but the average settlement with an Atticus lawyer is twice as high as for people who don't have a lawyer. Factor in the additional medical care your lawyer can likely negotiate for you, and in the end you still take home more money by having a lawyer. Learn more about workers' comp lawyer fees.

What does a workers’ comp lawyer do that I can’t?

A local lawyer is well-versed in your state’s laws, so they’ll know how to avoid payment delays, maximize your medical coverage, and negotiate higher payments or a bigger settlement. They can help even if you never get denied or experience a serious issue. Here’s more on what a workers’ comp lawyer actually does.

How to find the best workers’ comp lawyer

There are some key questions you should ask any lawyer before hiring them, like how much they charge, whether they have experience with similar cases, and how they communicate with clients throughout the process. Learn more in our guide to finding a good workers’ comp lawyer.

Can I change my workers’ comp lawyer?

You can fire your workers’ comp lawyer and hire a new one. Talk with your lawyer first, though. You may still have to pay them for some expenses and sometimes issues like slow responses or long wait times are the result of misunderstandings. But if your lawyer just isn’t working out, you have options. Here's more on how and when to fire your workers' comp attorney.

What's the difference between lawyers and attorneys?

The terms lawyer and attorney are mostly interchangeable. Technically the word lawyer could include more legal professionals than just attorneys, but all Atticus workers’ comp lawyers are also attorneys who can legally represent clients. Most state bar websites also have a feature that allows you to confirm an attorney's credentials by searching their name or bar number. A reputable lawyer will provide their bar number upon request.

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A drawing of the lead workers' compensation lawyer for Atticus.

Victoria Muñoz

Lead Attorney

Victoria Muñoz is an attorney on Atticus’s Workers' Compensation team. She’s a licensed attorney, a graduate of Stanford Law School, and has counseled hundreds of people seeking workers' compensation. In her free time, she enjoys hiking and spending time with her pup.
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