You were injured and the Ohio Bureau of Workers Compensation approved your claim or, if your employer is self-insured, they certified your claim. Now what? Should you hire an attorney?
The short answer is "it depends." If your injury claim is allowed, you are receiving compensation for being off work, and your medical bills are being paid, then you may not need an attorney. If you are not having any problems with the claim, why get an attorney? There may still be reasons to lawyer up.
The main reason to hire an attorney when the claim is going smoothly is because it gives your attorney a chance to take some actions to try to minimize problems as your claim moves forward. Your claim is generally a 5-year claim, meaning the claim will stay open for 5 years from the injury date (if that is the last date you received treatment or compensation in the claim), or 5 years from the date of your last medical treatment, or compensation being paid in the claim, whichever is later. During the life of your claim, you may need medical treatment, diagnostic testing, consultations with specialists, etc., or you may need different types of compensation, depending on your circumstances. Every person is different in terms of how long it takes them to get better after an injury.
Your attorney will be able to advise you on such matters as whether the medical conditions that are allowed in your claim are adequate, whether your rate of compensation is correct, and whether you qualify for certain types of compensation (even if you are working), among other things. For instance, if your claim is allowed for a "sprain," but your treating physician has diagnosed you with some other medical condition that is more serious than a sprain, your attorney can try to get the more serious medical condition added to your claim. That will help to prevent your ongoing medical treatment or compensation being denied or terminated as time goes by. Your attorney can also verify whether your compensation rate is correct. Wages may be missing or there may be a different formula to calculate your wages than what the BWC or the self-insured employer used, and you may qualify for a higher rate, or a back period of pay based on a higher rate. Even if you have returned to work, you may still qualify for compensation due to your work injury.
These are some issues your attorney can assist you with and, of course, be there to answer questions and provide advice while your case moves on. In addition, hiring an attorney early can help increase your chances of positive results when hearings are ultimately scheduled in your claim.
To speak with one of our attorneys about your case, or if you know you already need legal assistance, we are here to help. Just call us at 614-221-1300.