Workers’ compensation provides injured workers the coverage needed to access medical care and take time off work to heal from injuries. The process is typically smooth, but employers or insurers are sometimes uncooperative. How often do workers’ comp cases go to trial when the system does not work for the injured worker?
Consider some circumstances that may lead your case to trial and how our team at Dan Pruitt Injury Law Firm in Greenville, South Carolina, can help.
How Often Do Workers’ Comp Cases End in Settlement Instead of Going To Trial?
Most workers’ comp cases end in settlement or dismissal before ever making it to the trial phase. Insurance carriers who settle usually want to avoid the excessive time and money they may waste on going to trial. Additionally, settlements are generally sufficient to cover lost wages and medical expenses, especially when the injured worker hires a personal injury attorney with experience in workers’ comp claims. However, every case is different, and trial is occasionally the only way.
Why Might You Need To Go Trial?
At times, the only way to access compensation for a workplace injury is to take the case to trial. For example, if the insurance company unfairly denies your claim, taking the case to trial may be the only option. Insurance companies may also obtain a medical opinion that clears you for work despite objections from your own doctor.
Sometimes a trial is necessary to access higher compensation. For example, insurance companies make unfair settlement offers often, but you can take the case to court to obtain higher benefits. Of course, there is a significant amount of risk that comes with going to trial, which is why most people seek legal representation first.
What you can expect from the trial process
During the trial, you have the opportunity to testify about the incident that caused your injuries and explain how it affected your life. You will present evidence to support your claim and even call on witnesses who can explain the severity of your injuries, such as your doctor. Next, you will answer questions about the case. Once the commissioner hears both sides, they will make a decision about your benefits and issue an order that explains the total duration and amount of benefits available to you.
Should they find you ineligible, they will issue a denial. At this point, your attorney may advise you to appeal the decision so a panel of three commissioners can hear your claim and review the case again.
Advantages of going to trial in a workers’ comp case
When trial becomes a feasible option, there are a few reasons to take the chance. For example, it can result in full recovery of your damages, which is ideal if the insurer refuses to offer a fair settlement despite your presentation of solid evidence. You may also receive a more accurate value of your claim. An arbitrator can investigate the claim to ensure the identification and fair value of all losses from your accident.
How Can a Workers’ Comp Attorney Help Your Case?
Workers’ compensation trials are challenging, and require time and resources to produce the evidence necessary to prove your claim. Like any personal injury case, you, the plaintiff, are responsible for confirming your right to compensation at trial. While every case has unique conditions, an experienced workers’ comp attorney can navigate the legal system quickly and efficiently. Some ways they may contribute to your claim include the following:
- Gathering medical and vocational evidence: Legal professionals can collect your medical records, arrange treatment with certain doctors, obtain opinions from the physicians treating you through an independent medical examination and conduct depositions to question medical experts.
- Negotiate the settlement agreement: They will evaluate factors such as the extent of your injuries and limitations and whether you have a lasting disability to determine fair value for your settlement. They also look at previous wages and whether your employer owes you for late payments or temporary disability benefits.
- Advise you through the legal process: At every stage, your attorney knows and protects your rights. They will only advise you to go to trial if they believe it will benefit you.
- Handle all administrative work: Your attorney will fill out the paperwork, write your pleadings and ensure all information is correct and reaches the right department on time.
Injured workers and their families sometimes face devastating financial and emotional circumstances following a workplace injury. Workers’ comp attorneys understand this and guide you with compassion while fighting for you and your case.
How Often Do Workers’ Comp Cases Go To Trial When the Plaintiff Has Legal Representation?
More often than not, an experienced workers’ comp lawyer can settle your case outside the courtroom. However, when the employer or insurance provider will not cooperate or violates your rights to compensation, you may need a trial to ensure you get the compensation you deserve.