It’s no secret that filing a permanent partial disability workers’ comp claim without a lawyer is risky. After all, the workers’ comp system can be tricky to navigate, and if you make even the slightest mistake, you could lose out on the benefits you deserve.
But what many people don’t know is just how dangerous it can be to file a workers’ comp claim without legal representation. Statistics show that claimants who go it alone are far more likely to have their claims denied or terminated than those with an attorney.
If your claim is denied, you could be left with medical bills, lost wages, and no way to support yourself or your family. Read on to learn more about the dangers of filing a PPD workers’ comp claim without a lawyer and how an attorney can help you get the benefits you need and deserve.
What is a Permanent Partial Disability Workers’ Comp Claim?
Permanent partial disability (PPD) is a type of workers’ compensation claim that can be made by someone who has been hurt on the job but can still work in some way.
For the injured worker to get benefits, a doctor must say that they have a permanent injury that makes it hard for them to work. The amount of benefits paid under a PPD claim is based on:
- The severity of the impairment
- The worker’s age
- The worker’s education
- The worker’s past earnings
PPD benefits are typically paid monthly if the amount is large and in a lump sum for smaller awards.
When an injured worker reaches MMI, they are no longer eligible for benefits. PPD claims can be complicated, so if you’ve been hurt on the job, it’s important to talk to an experienced workers’ compensation lawyer.
Dangers of Filing a Permanent Partial Disability Workers’ Comp Claim Without an Attorney
When you file a PPD workers’ compensation claim without an attorney, there are a few things that could go wrong. Here is a look at some of the most common dangers:
You Could Make Mistakes on Your Paperwork
Filing for workers’ compensation can be complicated and confusing. There are many forms to fill out, and it can be easy to make mistakes. If you are not careful, these mistakes could result in your claim being denied.
For this reason, it is often advisable to hire a lawyer to help you navigate the process and ensure all your paperwork is in order. While there will be a cost associated with hiring a lawyer, it is often worth it in the long run.
Many lawyers offer free consultations, so you can get an idea of whether or not they would be a good fit. Filing for workers’ compensation is a big decision, and you should do everything possible to increase your chances of success.
You Could Miss Out on the Statute of Limitations
There are strict deadlines associated with filing for workers’ compensation. In Florida, the statute of limitations for workers’ compensation cases is two years from the date of injury, followed by a one-year statute of limitations. This means that injured workers must get medical or indemnity benefits or file a Petition for Benefits within two years of their accident. If they do not, they will have only one year to receive treatment from an authorized provider.
There are some exceptions to this rule, but in general, it is important for injured workers to act quickly if they want to receive the benefits they deserve. Failing to adhere to the statute of limitations can result in a complete loss of benefits. Therefore, it is important for injured workers to understand their rights and responsibilities under the law. An experienced workers’ compensation attorney can help ensure that you are in compliance with the applicable deadlines and receive the full benefits to which you are entitled.
You Could End Up Waiving Important Rights
When filing for workers’ compensation, you may be asked to sign documents that waive your right to sue your employer. You could waive fundamental rights if you sign these documents without fully understanding them.
For example, if you sign a release of liability, you will not be able to sue your employer for any injuries you sustained on the job, no matter how severe they are. An accomplished workers’ compensation attorney ensures you understand all the documents you are signing and will only have you sign them if they are in your best interests.
You May Need to Appeal If Your Hearing Request is Denied
If you file a request for a hearing and your request is denied, you may need to appeal the decision. This can be complicated and time-consuming. A workers’ compensation attorney will know how to navigate the appeals process and will fight to get your hearing request approved.
You Could End Up Losing Your Case
You will likely lose your case if you do not have a lawyer. This is because you will probably be up against an attorney representing the insurance company.
The insurance company’s lawyer will try to find any reason to deny your claim or to pay you less than you are entitled to.
A skillful workers’ compensation attorney that knows how to counter the insurance company’s tactics to level the playing field will give you a much better chance of winning your case.
You Could Accept a Lowball Settlement Offer
If an attorney does not represent you, the insurance company may try to take advantage of you by offering you a lowball settlement.
The insurance company knows that you are not represented by an attorney and may try to take advantage of this by offering you a settlement much lower than what your claim is worth.
A workers’ comp lawyer will know how much your claim is worth and make sure the insurance company doesn’t take advantage of you.
How to Find the Right Permanent Partial Disability Workers’ Compensation Lawyer for You
When looking for a lawyer to represent you in your permanent partial disability workers’ compensation claim, find an attorney with experience handling these cases. These cases can be complex, and you will want an attorney who knows how to navigate the workers’ compensation system.
Other factors to consider when choosing an attorney include:
The Attorney’s Fees
Workers’ compensation cases can be expensive to litigate, and the attorney will likely require a retainer or advance payment. Understand how the attorney will be paid and what expenses will be incurred. You don’t want to be surprised by a large bill from your attorney after the case is over.
The Attorney’s Reputation
Check with your state’s workers’ compensation board to see if any complaints have been filed against the attorney. You can also check online reviews and ask for referrals from friends or family members who have used an attorney in the past.
The Attorney’s Location
Even though you don’t have to hire a lawyer from your city or state, it might be a good idea to find one who knows the workers’ compensation laws in your state.
What to Expect During the Legal Process of Filing a Permanent Partial Disability Workers’ Comp Claim
The legal process of making a claim for workers’ compensation for a permanent partial disability can be complicated and take a long time. Having an experienced attorney by your side is vital to handling your claim properly.
Here are some of the steps you can expect during the legal process:
- Determining if you are eligible for benefits: The first step is to determine if you are eligible for benefits. Your attorney will help you gather the necessary documentation to support your claim.
- Filing a claim with the workers’ compensation board: Your attorney will help you file a claim with the workers’ compensation board. The board will review this claim, and a determination will be made as to whether you are eligible for benefits.
- Appealing a denial of benefits: If your claim is denied, your attorney will help you file an appeal. The appeals process can be complex, and your attorney will ensure that your rights are protected.
- Negotiating a settlement: If your claim is approved, your attorney will help you negotiate a settlement with the insurance company. Having an experienced attorney by your side during this process ensures you are getting the best possible settlement.
How to Get the Most Out of Your Workers’ Compensation Benefits
If you are approved for workers’ compensation benefits, you can do a few things to ensure you are getting the most out of your benefits. Here are some tips:
- Keep detailed records of all medical appointments, treatments, and expenses. This will be important if you need to file an appeal or negotiate a settlement.
- Follow your doctor’s orders and attend all scheduled appointments. If you do not, the insurance company may argue that you are not truly injured and deny your claim.
- Be proactive about your recovery: Attend physical therapy appointments and follow at-home exercises or treatments prescribed by your doctor. The goal is to recover as fully as possible so you can return to work.
- Keep in touch with your attorney throughout the process. Your attorney will be your best advocate and can help you navigate the workers’ compensation system.
Contact a Permanent Partial Disability Attorney Today
While it might be tempting to try and tackle your PPD worker’s comp claim on your own, we urge you to think twice. The forms alone are enough to make your head spin, not to mention the legalities involved in getting the full extent of benefits you’re entitled to.
If your employer or their insurance company pushes back, you need representation so that you can get what you rightfully deserve. Trust us—we see it every day. At Sternberg | Forsythe, P.A., we work hard to make sure our clients get the most benefits and money for their injuries. So before you do anything else, please pick up the phone and call us at 561-867-6198.