Louisiana Work Comp Lawyers
Employees who are injured in the workplace have a right to file for workers’ compensation benefits. These benefits are there to help workers cover lost wages they may miss out on while recovering from an injury or illness sustained on the job. However, though you may be eligible for these benefits, it is not uncommon for employers or insurance companies to deny claims in an attempt to reduce compensation amounts. For this reason, it is sometimes necessary to work with an experienced workers’ compensation attorney to ensure you receive the full amount of benefits you deserve.
The Louisiana workers’ compensation lawyers at Lunsford, Baskin, & Priebe, PLLC help injured workers get the benefits they are entitled to after an on-the-job injury. Our lawyers represent ironworkers, construction workers, truck drivers, general laborers, firefighters, and first responders who have been injured on the job. Learn more about Louisiana workers’ compensation below, and contact Lunsford, Baskin, & Priebe, PLLC if you’ve been injured in a workplace accident.
Understanding Louisiana Work Comp Laws
Due to workers’ compensation no-fault laws, injured workers may file a claim and receive benefits without having to prove fault. This means that no matter how the injury happened on the job, they can claim benefits without having to go through the process of showing proof that someone acted negligently.
Workers’ compensation benefits only cover the cost of medical expenses and lost wages due to a workplace injury or illness. In other legal situations, compensation can help cover non-economic damages, such as mental anguish and pain and suffering, but workers’ comp benefits do not. Though you don’t have to show proof of fault, you will have to prove that the injury or illness was sustained on the job. You will not receive medical or wage loss benefits for any other injuries or illnesses that are not work-related.
Who is Eligible for Work Comp Benefits?
All employers with one or more employees in the state of Louisiana are required to carry workers’ compensation insurance to protect themselves and their employees. Employees both full-time and part-time are eligible as long as they earn a minimum of $3,000 annually. However, there are some types of workers who are not eligible, such as:
- Undocumented aliens
- Domestic employees
- Licensed real estate agents
- Directors of certain non-profit organizations
- Airplane crews while performing dusting and spraying procedures
- Workers performing mining-related services
What Types of Accidents and Injuries are Covered?
Louisiana workers’ compensation benefits are available to employees who sustain any type of injury or illness in the workplace. While many think that workers’ comp is only for traumatic incidents and injuries, such as ladder or scaffolding falls or machinery injuries, it can help cover wage losses and medical benefits for occupational illnesses, diseases, and repetitive motion injuries as well.
At Lunsford, Baskin, & Priebe, PLLC, our Louisiana workers’ compensation lawyers have experience handling various types of claims for injured workers. However, some of the most common injuries we see include:
- Back and neck injuries
- Spinal cord injuries
- Repetitive stress injuries
- Shoulder injuries
- Knee injuries
- First responder illnesses, such as cancer or heart and lung diseases
While most work-related injuries or illnesses are clearly a result of work performed on the job, employers and insurance carriers may still try to deny a claim if they think the injury or illness was sustained elsewhere. This is one of the reasons why you may need to seek the help of an attorney. We have experience with claim denials and can help you prove that your injury or illness did occur on the job to ensure you get the full amount of benefits you deserve.
What Benefits Are Available Through Work Comp in Louisiana?
There are two types of benefits available to injured workers:
- Medical benefits: The medical benefits available to injured workers can help cover all reasonable and necessary medical expenses related to the work injury or illness. Payments of medical benefits can cover doctor visits, hospital bills, prescription medications, physical therapy, medical supplies, and assistance devices such as crutches and wheelchairs.
- Wage replacement benefits: Wage replacement benefits help cover the cost of lost wages while the injured worker recovers. Generally, this includes two-thirds of your regular average wages, subject to maximum limits. There are a couple of different kinds of wage benefits available depending on the extent of the injury and how disabled it has left the injured worker.
If an injured worker is only temporarily disabled and unable to work, for example, they may receive temporary disability benefits until their treating physician approves their return to work. Permanent disability benefits are another option if the injury leaves the worker more severely and permanently disabled, such as an amputation or loss of eyesight.
At Lunsford, Baskin, & Priebe, PLLC, our Louisiana workers’ compensation attorneys can help you navigate every stage of the workers’ compensation process. Filing a claim and handling the process entirely on your own can be frustrating and can result in a denial if something is done incorrectly. Our legal professionals can take on this task for you to see that you get the benefits you deserve.
Filing A Louisiana Work Comp Claim
All employers must provide information on what to do in case of a workplace incident. This includes how to go about filing a workers’ compensation claim. If this information is not posted somewhere in the workplace, it may be in your employee handbook. If you cannot find it, you should ask your human resources department for a copy.
Keep in mind that what information is provided may not be thorough enough to fully guide you through the process. Most employers only provide a basic guide that can easily lead to mistakes and errors when the claim is filed. This is often done on purpose to make it more difficult for employees to successfully file a claim and receive benefits.
If you want to ensure everything is done correctly, call the workers’ compensation attorneys at Lunsford, Baskin, & Priebe, PLLC. Work Comp is our area of expertise. Our professional team can advise and represent you at every stage of the workers’ compensation process, helping you get your benefits fully paid sooner rather than later.
What Steps Should I Take to File A Work Comp Claim?
The following steps can help guide you through the basics to give you a better understanding of how the workers’ compensation process works:
- Notify your employer: After the incident occurs, make sure you notify your employer as soon as possible, so they are aware of what happened. Louisiana requires that you report the accident within 30 days, but the sooner you notify your boss, the sooner the claims process will get rolling.
- File the claim: In Louisiana, the employer files a First Report of Injury with the insurer, and the insurer submits a claim to the Louisiana Workforce Commission.
- File an appeal if necessary: If nothing is wrong with your claim, you should start to receive benefits shortly after it is filed. However, if there is a dispute and benefits are not being paid, you may need to file an appeal with the Workforce Commission. In Louisiana, the statute of limitations is one year for a wage dispute or three years for a dispute over medical coverage.
Once you have filed an appeal, you will schedule a hearing before an administrative law judge. In Louisiana, you can appeal a decision of the administrative law judge to the Circuit Court of Appeal within 30 days.
If you find that your claim is denied and you have to file an appeal, the process can get even more technical and complicated. It is crucial at this stage of the workers’ compensation process to have an experienced attorney on your side fighting for your rights. The sooner you get a lawyer, the sooner you will receive your benefits.
Common Mistakes to Avoid When Filing A Workers’ Comp Claim
It is common for insurers and employers to use tactics to avoid paying out large sums of money every year to injured workers. They will often do whatever they can to deny benefits or get the amount owed reduced. It’s crucial because of these attempts that all workers take careful measures when filing their claims to avoid falling into their traps. Some workers will even make mistakes on their own without insurers doing anything at all.
Common mistakes that are made by workers that can lead to a denial, and thus should be avoided, include the following:
- Failing to report the incident: One of the most commonly seen mistakes workers make after a workplace injury is failing to report the incident to their employer. Most states, including Louisiana, have a time limit of 30 days to report an accident and injury that occurred on the job. However, if you wait too long, it may be too late, and you will be denied compensation altogether.
- Avoiding seeking immediate medical treatment and failing to follow doctors’ orders: As soon as the injury is sustained, you should seek immediate medical attention. No matter how big or small the injury is, it is vital to have proof of the injury to receive benefits. If there is no documentation of the injury or any treatments prescribed, it will negatively affect your claim. Additionally, once you have sought medical treatment, failing to follow the doctors’ orders properly can also result in a denial.
- Falsifying information about the incident and your injuries: When filing your claim and reporting the incident to your employer, you should always tell the truth. The same goes for when you seek medical treatment and speak with a doctor. Those involved in workers’ comp cases have plenty of experience spotting falsified information. If you are caught lying, it will sabotage your claim.
- Failing to keep organized records: Always keep records of everything. Even if you feel this is a straightforward case, it’s essential to take note of everything and keep all files and documents pertaining to the incident organized. This includes writing down everything you can remember leading up to the incident, after the incident, and the names of any witnesses. You should also keep track of your pain and any symptoms and ask for copies of all medical documents, including scans and x-rays. If you’re concerned about keeping everything organized, a workers’ comp attorney can help guide you and keep you on track.
- Signing a medical authorization for the insurance company: Asking for authorization to view your medical records is a tactic used by insurance companies in an attempt to reduce the claim amount. They may tell you that they just want to understand the extent of your injuries to give you the compensation that you deserve, but this is almost always a lie. They’re actually after access to your files to use any information they can find to downplay your injury. If they call, just tell them no and that you need to speak with your attorney first.
- Accepting a quick settlement: Another tactic insurers use is offering a quick settlement, especially if they fear you are working with an attorney. Working with a workers’ compensation lawyer helps to ensure you receive the full benefits you deserve, and insurance companies know this. They may call you and try to talk you out of working with an attorney by claiming that it will cost you more money in the long run, but this is just a tactic they use to scare workers into a quick settlement.
How To Appeal A Denied Workers’ Comp Claim in Louisiana
In some situations, a claim denial may occur due to a simple mistake, such as something being misspelled on your claim or the wrong date being written. Though denials for these reasons are rare, it does occur. When you receive your denial letter, always take the time to look it over carefully to ensure all information on the claim is correct. If you find any mistakes, you should contact the claims adjuster to have them corrected.
If the denial was simply due to a clerical error, you should receive approval once the mistake is fixed. However, it is most likely that the denial is due to other reasons, and in this case, you will need to file an appeal.
In Louisiana, you can request a formal hearing with the Office of Workers’ Compensation. A Disputed Claim for Compensation must be filed with the OWC within one year from the accident. A Disputed Claim for Medical Treatment must be filed within one year of the injury or three years from your last payment if you were receiving medical payments that were cut off.
The appeal process can be long and arduous and may require the assistance of an attorney. You have the right to file an initial workers’ compensation claim and an appeal on your own, but this reduces your chances of getting the full benefit amount you deserve. Not only does working with an attorney ensure you are adequately compensated, but it can also help the process along much faster, which means you won’t have to wait as long to get your benefits.
An Experienced Louisiana Work Comp Attorney Can Help
As an injured worker, you have a right to claim workers’ compensation benefits, but standing up to a denial on your own can be challenging. In our law firm, Our dedicated legal team has years of experience practicing exclusively in the area of workers’ compensation law. We are prepared to take on any case and handle the task of ensuring your benefits are promptly and fully paid. This includes helping you with claim denials and appeals if necessary. For help with a Louisiana workers’ compensation claim, contact the Workers’ Comp lawyers in Louisiana at Lunsford, Baskin, & Priebe, PLLC for a free consultation.