When things go wrong on the job, it can lead to a significant injury for you or a loved one. If this injury occurs at work, you may be eligible to receive compensation for your medical bills and for some of the wages you are unable to earn while you recover from the injuries.
With a New Orleans workers’ compensation attorney from Morris Bart on your side, you can get help with your case from the initial filing of the lawsuit through a hearing before a judge.
How a New Orleans Workers’ Compensation Lawyer Can Help
Louisiana’s workers’ compensation program protects workers financially after injuries that occur on the job. Unfortunately, it is not always easy to collect fair financial compensation from an insurance company. An insurance provider may try to take advantage of you to protect its own profits. Hiring an attorney is the best way to protect your rights.
A New Orleans workers’ compensation lawyer can offer many important legal services, including:
- Investigate your work accident to search for signs of fault or negligence.
- Identify witnesses, obtain copies of accident reports and search for evidence of negligence.
- Explain your legal rights and guide you to the best route for your specific case.
- Assist you in filling out the required documents, which can be lengthy and complicated.
- Develop medical evidence to prove your claim, including hiring medical experts.
- Negotiate a just workers’ compensation settlement from an insurance company on your behalf.
- Represent you at a workers’ comp hearing if your case has to go to trial for fair compensation.
Statistically, injured workplace accident victims receive greater financial compensation with lawyers than without them. The act of hiring a lawyer is often enough to convince an insurance company to offer a greater settlement, as the insurer will want to prevent the case from going to court. Litigation and trial experience will work in your favor during your New Orleans workers’ comp case, increasing the odds of achieving the best possible case results.
For a free legal consultation with a Workers’ Compensation lawyer serving New Orleans, call 800-537-8185
Understanding Workers’ Compensation Laws
According to the Louisiana Workforce Commission, which oversees the state’s workers’ compensation program, those employees who may have been injured on the job or who may have been exposed to a dangerous substance have the ability to receive certain benefits.
Some of the items for which injured workers could receive benefits include:
- Doctor visits related to the injury
- Hospitalization for the injury
- Surgeries and other types of care
- Physical therapy costs
- Vocational rehabilitation services
- Recovery of lost wages
While the Louisiana Workforce Commission oversees the workers’ compensation program in the state, the payout of benefits comes from the employer or the workers’ compensation insurer.
Types of Workers’ Comp Benefits Available in Louisiana
It is important to understand the types of financial benefits that could be available to you as an injured worker in Louisiana. This can give you a better position during negotiations with a workers’ comp insurance provider.
The types of benefits available are as follows:
- Medical benefits: all medical care needed to treat your work injury or illness, with no copays or deductibles. This can include doctor’s appointments, specialists, surgeries, therapies, rehabilitation, medical devices and prescription medications. It can also cover miles traveled to get to and from doctors’ appointments.
- Disability benefits: payment for permanent total or partial disability. If you are physically unable to work or cannot work as much as you did prior to your work-related injury or illness, you can receive disability pay in the amount of two-thirds of your average weekly wage, subject to maximum. You can also qualify for vocational rehabilitation services.
- Supplemental earnings benefits: while you cannot receive temporary disability benefits in Louisiana if you are still able to work to any degree, you can collect supplemental earnings benefits if you are unable to earn at least 90 percent of your pre-injury wages. These benefits are calculated at two-thirds of the difference between what you earned before and what you earn now, subject to a maximum.
- Catastrophic injury benefits: you may qualify for a one-time award of $50,000 on top of other benefits for certain types of catastrophic work injuries, including paraplegia, quadriplegia, the total loss of two extremities or both eyes, or severe burns that cover at least 40 percent of the body.
- Death benefits: if an employee dies from a work-related injury or illness (within two years of the last treatment for the injury), his or her surviving legal dependents can receive death benefits through workers’ comp. This is generally a weekly amount that equals a percentage of the deceased person’s pre-injury wages. Family members can also qualify for up to $8,500 in reasonable burial expenses.
An attorney from Morris Bart can help you fight for the benefit amount that you deserve based on your situation and losses. We understand Louisiana’s workers’ comp system and how to negotiate for maximum financial compensation.
Problems Employees May Encounter
Although state law regarding workers’ compensation spells out what should happen, things do not always go smoothly when you file a workers’ compensation claim.
It is possible that your employer or the workers’ compensation insurance company may dispute your claim of injury, leading to a fight over the compensation you believe you should receive. Workers’ compensation is different than the Jones Act, which is meant to cover eligible seamen. Consult our injury lawyers to learn more about your alternatives to claim damages.
What May Cause Your Workers’ Compensation Claim to Get Denied?
It is not uncommon for workers’ compensation claims in Louisiana to get denied. Do not assume your case is over if your claim has been rejected. Other legal options may be available to you, such as fighting the denial or filing a personal injury lawsuit. If a workers’ comp insurance company denies your claim, the insurer is legally required to give you a reason.
Common reasons for workers’ compensation claim denials include:
- Injuries not sustained in the course or scope of employment
- Pre-existing injuries
- Missed filing deadline or other application errors
- Misrepresentation of facts on the claim
- Insufficient evidence
- Additional proof of injuries or losses needed
- Failure to seek medical care
- Allegations of horseplay or intoxication
- Liability disputes
Our work injury lawyers at Morris Bart can help you determine and understand the reason for a workers’ comp claim denial. Then, we can help you file an appeal. This may involve requesting an internal review of your case by the insurance company or going to a third party – such as the Louisiana Department of Insurance – for an external review.
Types of Injuries that Are Covered Under New Orleans Workers’ Compensation Laws
The workers’ compensation program in New Orleans covers almost all types of injuries and illnesses, as long as they can be connected to the claimant’s job or job-related tasks. This includes injuries from sudden or traumatic accidents as well as repetitive motion injuries that develop over time. Covered occupational injuries and diseases include:
- Bone fractures
- Burn injuries
- Hearing or vision loss
- Illnesses and cancers
- Internal injuries and organ damage
- Muscle and soft-tissue injuries
- Neck and back injuries
- Paralysis (paraplegia, quadriplegia)
- Scarring and disfigurement
- Spinal cord injuries
- Traumatic brain injuries
In addition to bodily injuries and illnesses, Louisiana workers’ compensation laws cover some mental and emotional injuries. However, this is only the case when nonphysical injuries are connected to a serious incident or traumatic event that took place at work. In addition, pre-existing injuries can be covered by workers’ comp if the injury was aggravated by a work-related accident.
Filing Your Workers’ Compensation Case Properly
Mistakes made during the process of filing a workers’ compensation case in Louisiana could negatively affect your ability to receive benefits or a settlement. It is easy to miss some of the deadlines or to make a mistake in filing the paperwork when you are focused on trying to recover from your injuries. This is where a workers’ compensation lawyer can help you, keeping your case moving forward.
Here are some of the most common errors injured workers make when filing a workers’ compensation claim in Louisiana:
Missing a Deadline
In the majority of Louisiana workers’ compensation cases, the employee must notify the employer of his or her on-the-job injury within one year of the occurrence of the injury. In some cases, the employee can file within one year of diagnosis of the injury, as long as the filing still occurs within two years of the original injury.
By meeting this deadline, the employee maintains his or her right to attempt to receive workers’ compensation benefits. Missing the deadline could cause the employee to forfeit the right to receive benefits.
Showing Evidence of Employment
You also must be able to show that you were employed at the time of the accident, performing the duties expected with your job. Although this seems like it should be easy to prove, an employer may argue that you are not entitled to these benefits because the business considered you to be self-employed or working on a freelance basis, rather than as a full-time employee.
Documenting Your Injuries
To file a workers’ compensation claim, you need to have evidence of the injury you suffered. You can discuss this with a doctor. You will need to visit a doctor to have the injury properly diagnosed. The longer you wait to see a doctor after your injury, the more difficult it will be to prove that this injury was a direct result of an incident at work.
In a workers’ compensation lawsuit, you and your attorney will attempt to show that your employer could have done something differently to prevent you from suffering an injury on the job. Some of the ways in which your employer could have better protected you at work include:
- Providing proper training
- Providing safe tools to use
- Properly disposing of harmful chemicals
- Repairing dangerous workspaces
- Removing slipping and tripping hazards
- Providing safety equipment needed for your job
- Maintaining and caring for vehicles properly
Following Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) guidelines for your type of job
Should the injury at work lead to the death of the employee, his or her family members have the right to bring a workers’ compensation lawsuit against the employer. You may sue for financial benefits for survivors and compensation for burial costs.
How Is a Workers’ Compensation Claim Different from a Personal Injury Claim in Louisiana?
If there is evidence that your employer contributed to your work injury, you may be able to bring a personal injury claim against the company. However, once you accept a workers’ comp settlement, you give up the right to sue your employer. A personal injury claim could result in greater compensation than workers’ comp, including damages for pain and suffering. The tradeoff is that you or your attorney must prove that someone else was negligent and that this caused your work-related injury. The at-fault party in a personal injury claim could be your employer, a contractor, a product manufacturer or another party.
Can I Sue My Employer for Denying Workers’ Compensation?
In most cases, you will not be able to pursue a successful claim against your employer for denying your workers’ compensation claim. Employers are required to pay for employees’ injuries, even if the worker was at fault. The trade-off is that they are immune from liability.
Is It Worth Getting a Workers’ Compensation Attorney?
There are certain situations where it is worth hiring a lawyer for workers’ compensation, especially when there is a dispute. This includes situations where your injuries require you to take a long or permanent absence from work, claims involving serious injuries with extensive medical treatment, and injuries that aren’t clearly related to your job duties.
Anytime you have questions or concerns, it’s worth reaching out to a Louisiana attorney. With our experience and knowledge of the law, we may be able to shed some insight into your situation. Our team will help you fight for the highest workers’ compensation in Louisiana.
Contact Our New Orleans Workers’ Compensation Lawyers Today
Whether you suffered an injury on the job in New Orleans Parish, or anywhere else across Louisiana, you have the right to attempt to seek compensation for your medical bills, pain, and suffering. The team at the Morris Bart knows how confusing this can be, and we are ready to help you understand your options, if any.
When you hire us to represent your workers’ compensation claim, we will be ready to begin working on your behalf immediately. We do not shy away from taking on the toughest cases, and we are ready to work through the red tape in any viable workers’ compensation case. Contact us online or call (800) 537-8185 today for a free case evaluation in New Orleans.
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