Proceeding with a non-lawyer essentially means you’ll be representing yourself throughout the claims process. Just because this route is available, doesn’t necessarily mean it’s always the smartest path to take. Keep in mind that you might be up against legal professionals, looking to reduce the amount the insurance company has to pay for your injury.
However, representing yourself is generally a safe route if:
- You only suffered a very minor injury
- You didn’t lose many work hours
- You don’t have a pre-existing condition
- Your employer is willing to cooperate
Here’s an example of a fairly straightforward situation in which you could represent yourself:
You suffer a small laceration that requires stitches, and your employer readily admits this happened while you were working. You miss only several hours of work while the injury is taken care of by a doctor.
Unfortunately, many work injuries aren’t that simple. In more complex situations, you’ll definitely want a workers’ comp lawyer by your side.
In some cases an insurance company or employer will argue that your injury didn’t happen on the job. This is an especially easy dispute for an employer to make if you suffer from a pre-existing condition, which makes it hard to tell if your injury actually occurred on the job or elsewhere.
You’ll also want a lawyer’s help if your injuries are severe, causing you to miss plenty of work. A lawyer will help ensure the settlement covers your lost wages, as well as the hospital bills. Injured employees who represent themselves during the claims process are at risk of settling for less than they deserve in workers’ compensation.
The bottom line is: If you expect opposition from your employer or the insurance company, it’s best to have a lawyer with you.
A workers’ comp lawyer will help you gather medical records to prove you were injured on the job and show you how to properly assess what your claim is worth.