The first thing you should know about filing for workers’ compensation: it costs you nothing. Workers’ compensation benefits exist to help injured workers recoup their medical costs, receive any lost wages, and get back to work. Anyone who tells you otherwise may be trying to scam you out of money. The only step you have to take to begin your claim is report your injury to your employer.
Some employees pay for medical care from their personal doctors for work injuries. If you do this, you may receive reimbursement from the employer’s workers’ compensation insurance company for the medical bills. You should tell your doctor that you were injured at work, and you should tell the insurance company which doctor you saw. Keep copies of all medical bills to give to your employer or the insurer upon request.
Some workers’ compensation cases settle. Settlement means that the insurance company pays you an agreed amount of money in return for your agreement that you will drop the case. If you settle, you will not receive any more benefits from the company. Nor will you have to pay the company anything – it pays you to avoid the cost and risk of continuing with the case.
If the insurance company contacts you and offers to settle the case, you may want to engage a lawyer to protect your interests. Experienced, knowledgeable workers’ compensation lawyers have settled many cases and can evaluate what your case is worth so you do not get lowballed in the settlement. In Minnesota, you do not pay your workers’ compensation lawyer up front. Instead, he or she works on a contingent fee basis.
Contingent fees mean that your lawyer gets paid a percentage of your recovery or of the medical benefits you get – but only if he or she successfully wins you benefits, gets a settlement in your favor, or wins at the hearing. There must be a legitimate dispute about benefits for the lawyer to recover a fee. This means if the insurance company does not dispute your claim and pays you benefits right away, you owe your lawyer nothing.
Lawyers receive payment either as a percentage of the compensation you receive (e.g. your wage-loss benefits), or directly from the insurance company or employer when medical or vocational benefits are in dispute. You and your lawyer can get costs for pursuing the claim reimbursed by the insurer if you are successful. If you decide to change lawyers, the fees may be split according to the work each performed for your case.
If you have further questions about the costs of filing for workers’ compensation for your injury, seek an initial consultation with a lawyer. The lawyer’s retainer agreement should clearly spell out the contingent fee arrangement and how costs are handled.
Looking for a workers’ compensation lawyer in Minnesota? Joe Osterbauer, Esq. and the Osterbauer Law Firm stand up for injured Minnesota workers’ rights. Joe’s 27 years of workers’ compensation experience and his team’s speedy service combine to get clients the results they need. To schedule a free consultation, visit Osterbauer Law Firm online or call Joe’s office at (612) 334-3434.