If you are injured at work, the first step is to report the injury to your employer immediately after the injury occurs, or as soon as you become aware of the injury or work related condition. The employee’s report of injury starts the claim process. Once you report the injury to your employer, the employer is required to notify their insurance company, who will then investigate your claim and advise you as to whether the claim will be accepted or denied. This process usually takes less than 30 days. If your claim is denied by the workers compensation insurance company, your case is NOT over. You can appeal a denial of a work comp claim. An experienced Wasusau workers compensation attorney can help you appeal a denied claim and explain the claims and appeals process in a way that you can easily understand.
If the workers compensation claim is accepted by the insurance company, then any medical treatment related to the injury should be covered, and you should also be paid temporary total disability (TTD), which is the lost time benefit you are entitled to if your doctor requires you to be off work due to the effects of your injury.
If the workers compensation carrier denies the work comp claim, usually after an independent medical exam, you can appeal your worker’s compensation claim by filing an application with the Worker’s Compensation Division of the Department of Workforce Development of Wisconsin, and request a formal hearing with an Administrative Law Judge. At this point, you can consult with an experienced worker’s compensation attorney who can represent you and take over the management of your case.
A good lawyer can guide you throughout this process and fully research your claim to determine the best manner to present it to the Administrative Law Judge. The workers compensation appeal process can be time consuming, and it is uncertain. No party is guaranteed the outcome they desire in litigation or on appeal. An experienced work comp lawyer like John R. Jokela can look at your case and advise you on a smart case strategy that avoids the length of time and uncertainty of embarking on a long and uncertain appeal process. Often it is a much better strategy to prepare the case and obtain a good settlement in a much shorter amount of time. If you hire a good lawyer experienced in workers compensation, you can get the best of both worlds by getting a good settlement and avoiding the long and uncertain path of litigation.
You can choose to represent yourself, but work comp claims are complex, and you don’t get a second chance if you lose your case at a hearing. The Administrative Law Judge will listen to testimony from the injured worker and any other witnesses that either side decides to bring to the hearing. These workers compensation hearings can become complex, and it is almost certain that the workers compensation insurance company will retain a lawyer to represent their interests at a hearing. If you want to level the playing field, you need to find and retain an experienced work comp lawyer who will be fighting on your side.
If you lose your case, you do have the right to appeal this decision to the Labor and Industry Review Commission; however, this appeal must be in the proper format and filed within a short and strict time limit. Once filed, an appeal to the Labor and Industry Review Commission (LIRC) can take many months to resolve, and normally each party to the appeal is limited to the evidence that existed at the time of the hearing before the Administrative Law Judge. Also, there is no guarantee that the Labor and Industry Review Commission will reverse a ruling that was not in your favor. The Labor and Industry Review Commission will look at the evidence and testimony and make a decision that the Commission believes to be fair and just and consistent with the evidence, regardless of which party benefits from such decision. Again, Attorney John Jokela can advise you of case strategies which avoid the necessity of lengthy and uncertain appeals, and gets you a favorable outcome in the form of a settlement, much more quickly. The final decision as to case strategy is up to you, but a good lawyer can give you choices and recommendations, so you can make the best decision for you and your family.
If the decision by the Labor Review Commission is not in your favor, you may still file an appeal to the State of Wisconsin Circuit Court, again within short and strict time limits. A decision by Circuit Court may be appealed to the Wisconsin Court of Appeals within short and strict time limits. Finally, a party may ask to have their case heard by Wisconsin Supreme Court. However, the Wisconsin Supreme Court may decline to hear any individual case. The reality is that very few workers compensation cases are appealed beyond the Labor and Industry Review Commission. Each step of the worker’s compensation appeals process should be carefully discussed with an experienced attorney who can advise you on the success rate of each step, and of the validity of your claim. Most important, a good workers compensation lawyer who knows how the legal process works, can help you to develop your case and gather evidence, and push toward a good settlement or other result for your case without the necessity of pursuing a time consuming and uncertain appeals process.
If you or a loved one have been injured in a workplace accident and were denied compensation or received less than you deserve for your injuries, do not hesitate to contact the John Jokela Law Firm. John Jokela has years of experience in handling complex worker’s compensation appeals and will work closely with you throughout the appeals process. Contact our Wausau office today and we will begin examining the facts of your claim with a free consultation. There are also no fees or costs unless your case is successful. The John Jokela Law Firm LLC will quickly begin the process of investigating and pursuing your case, and will advance all litigation costs so you don’t have to worry about not having the money to pursue your claim.