Should You Hire a Workers’ Compensation Lawyer or Handle the Case Yourself?

Do I Need a Workers’ Compensation Lawyer for My Case?

California workers' compensation Claim form on files complaint for work injury

When an employee is injured on the job, the employer is obligated to provide the resources needed to treat that employee’s injuries. This includes medical bills for initial treatment and potential future medical treatment for rehabilitation. If there are any setbacks in this process, an attorney can assist an injured worker with his or her case.

However, in other instances, the expertise of California workers’ compensation lawyers may not be required. When contemplating legal representation, there are certain considerations to take into account.


Factors That Affect a Workers’ Compensation Claim

There are times when an employer may fall short in taking action to assist their employees with their medical needs, causing delays in treatment. An employer may even reject a workers’ compensation claim if it cannot be determined that the injury was a result of a work-related activity. 

For injured workers wondering if they should or should not hire a workers’ compensation attorney, consider the following factors.

Injury Severity

Serious injuries, such as a spinal cord injury, broken bones, or a traumatic brain injury (TBI), will require extensive treatment and a longer recovery time, making the case costly. It is vital that all areas of damages are considered in these types of scenarios to ensure that the victim is not misguided into settling for less than adequate coverage. 

A workers’ compensation attorney will help navigate the complex legal system, gathering evidence that supports the workers’ compensation claim, negotiating with employers, and representing clients in court if necessary.

Case Complexity

Workers’ compensation insurance is intended to cover injuries sustained on company premises or while working. Although this may appear straightforward, there are some gray areas in the explanation that make it difficult for injured employees to qualify for California workers’ compensation benefits.

Someone who is injured off-site or commuting to an offsite job may struggle to prove that the injuries were work-related, resulting in a workers’ compensation claim being denied. Proving which party was actually at fault will be another complex factor. For instance, if a slip and fall accident occurred in the company lobby, the employer may fault the building’s cleaning staff for the accident. 

California workers’ compensation lawyers will investigate workplace accidents and work-related accidents to prove which party was at fault, followed by filing a claim and appealing a denial.

Pursuing Additional Workers’ Compensation Benefits

Supplemental job displacement benefits (SJDB) are available to injured workers who suffered a permanent or partial disability. It is different from the typical workers’ compensation benefits because it provides a voucher that can be used for educational retraining or skill enhancement.

The criteria to qualify are also different than other workers’ compensation claims. This includes possessing a permanent or partial disability and being unable to return to work. More details on qualifying for temporary disability benefits and permanent disability benefits can be found here.


Examples of When You May Be Able to Represent Yourself

employee with hand is on the trackpad, typing on a laptop keyboard, while reading a California workers' compensation document

There are some accident cases that may not require legal representation. However, to safeguard a personal injury case, it is still recommended to consult with a workers’ compensation attorney before finalizing a decision. 

  • Sustained a minor injury, like a shallow cut, scrapes, mild burns, bruises, or sprains
  • Employer confirms that the injury did happen at work
  • Little to no time was missed from work as a result of the injury
  • No history of pre-existing conditions

Regardless if an injury appears minor or serious, employers should always be immediately notified so that it is documented.

Additional factors for deciding whether or not to hire a California workers’ compensation lawyer are:

  • Consider the amount of potential benefits. Did the injury result in costly medical bills? Will the settlement cover the full extent of medical treatment needed to recover from the injury?
  • Think about the skills and knowledge required to obtain the best results. Are you comfortable navigating the workers’ compensation system? Do you have the time and energy to fight for your workers’ compensation benefits?
  • Talk to your employer. Discuss if the company is willing to cooperate and work with you to resolve your workplace injury accident.


When You Should Not Represent Yourself

Health care billing statement with stethoscope, bottle of medicine for doctor's work in medical center stone background.

Hire a workers’ compensation attorney when case complexities become present. The most common scenarios of when legal representation is necessary include the following.

The Workers’ Compensation Claim Is Denied

In some instances, legitimate workers’ compensation claims may be denied by an employer or workers’ comp insurance company, a dishonest tactic applied in hopes that the victim does not attempt to file an appeal. 

Workers’ Compensation Benefits Are Not Paid Promptly

Injuries can escalate into permanent disability or cause lifelong complications if medical treatment is not administered immediately. Employers are legally required to assist employees begin receiving medical treatment once notified of the injury; failing to do so is considered negligent. 

Settlement Does Not Cover All of the Damages

A judge must approve work comp settlements. However, that does not guarantee that the proposed settlement is fair or will cover all of the needed medical treatment. When recovering damages, compensation should account for all lost wages (income that could not be earned while healing from injury) and all medical bills (current medical treatment and ongoing therapy).

Injuries Interfere with Work

If partial disability or permanent disability was sustained, the injured victim may be eligible for continued weekly compensation to account for lost wages or diminished earning capacity. These cases are extremely costly for insurance companies, so they will be aggressive in their efforts to reduce settlement amounts. 

Social Security Benefits Are a Factor

Anyone who receives Social Security disability benefits or plans to apply for it may experience conflict when filing a workers’ compensation claim. If not structured properly, the final settlement may be significantly reduced. 

Employer Retaliates

It is illegal for an employer to retaliate against an employer for filing a workers’ compensation claim. Retaliation can be exhibited in the following ways, termination of employment, demotion, reduced hours, reduced pay, or any other form of discrimination.

Injury Involved a Third Party

If another party caused the work injury, a personal injury claim can be filed against the third party, in addition to a workers’ compensation claim being filed with the company. Ultimately, all parties who are responsible for causing the injuries may be held liable.


How to Find a Reputable Work Comp Lawyer

Lady justice. Statue of Justice in library. Legal and law background concept

The best worker’s compensation lawyer will explain the legal process, inform all potential outcomes (including delays or pitfalls), and provide an accurate estimation of how much the case is valued. Here is what to keep in mind when selecting a lawyer:

  • If available, get referrals. This can be from friends, family, or coworkers. This is a great way to find an experienced and trusted Bakersfield attorney. Conversely, attorneys to avoid may be recommended from the same trusted individuals, as well.
  • Consult with every law firm. Interviewing multiple attorneys before making a decision gives a chance to compare rates and services and offers insight into what working with that law firm may entail.
  • Ensure expertise. The attorney should not just be experienced in personal injury law. Familiarity with workers’ compensation law is also mandatory, especially when it comes to complex cases. 


The Benefits a Bakersfield Workers’ Comp Attorney Provides

If you’ve been injured on the job, speaking to an attorney as soon as possible is important. An attorney can help you protect your rights and get the workers’ compensation benefits you deserve. Even if you choose to file a claim on your own, an attorney’s perspective can provide peace of mind. 

At Horizon Accident Lawyers, we specialize in personal injury law and workers’ compensation law. We have recovered millions for our clients and maintain a 99% success rate. 

Ultimately, the decision of whether or not to hire a workers’ comp attorney is a personal one. However, if you’re unsure of what to do, please contact our Bakersfield office. We provide free consultations to all prospective clients, which is completely confidential.


Scroll to top