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Jackson & New Orleans Workers' Compensation Lawyer
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Jackson & New Orleans Workers' Compensation / New Orleans Workers’ Compensation Lawyer

New Orleans Workers’ Compensation Lawyer

Once upon a time, workers injured on the job had only one way to get compensation: sue their employer and prove they were negligent or lax with safety. Workers typically had to wait years for their cases to wind their way through the court system. What’s more, the law was slanted in favor of employers. Many badly injured workers never got medical care or lost wage benefits and slipped into poverty.

Today, the Louisiana workers’ compensation system has changed all that. Now, injured workers should immediately qualify for medical care if they were hurt while working, and many will receive lost wage benefits if they are too injured to return to work. Fault does not matter, and even negligent workers can qualify for benefits. Still, the system is not as transparent as it could be, and one mistake while applying could hurt your chances of success.

Our lawyers represent ironworkers, construction workers, truck drivers, general laborers, and 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 Louisiana workplace accident. Contact a New Orleans workers’ compensation lawyer at Lunsford Baskin & Priebe today to learn more.

An Overview of the Application Process

There are critical steps workers and their employers must take to qualify for benefits. If you don’t follow these steps, your chances of receiving benefits fall dramatically. Let’s look at a few:

  1. You have 30 days to report the accident to your employer. We recommend not waiting. Tell a foreman or supervisor in writing of the accident, including the day and time it happened.
  2. Promptly receive medical treatment. In Louisiana, injured workers can choose their own doctor. However, continue to see whoever you select because you can’t switch without permission. If you do, future medical benefits will be denied.
  3. Within 10 days of receiving notice, your employer should file a First Report of Injury with its insurer. This starts the claim.
  4. The Office of Workers’ Compensation Administration determines your eligibility and reviews your work history, education, medical records, and other information.
  5. You might have to undergo an independent medical examination if there are disputes about the seriousness of your injuries.

You should receive a written decision on your claim. The decision should state the grounds for the denial, such as a pre-existing injury or a failure to report the accident in a timely manner. If you are denied, you do have the right to appeal.

Sometimes, we can help mediate a dispute between the worker and the employer’s workers’ comp insurer which will allow the worker to receive benefits. However, we might also need to present your case to an administrative law judge who will ultimately decide whether you qualify.

What types of injuries are covered by Louisiana workers’ compensation?

Louisiana workers’ compensation covers any traumatic injury or occupational illness that occurs in the course of employment. At Lunsford, Baskin & Priebe PLLC, we represent workers across a wide range of occupations and industries who suffer a number of different injuries or work-related diseases. Some of the most common and serious claims we take on include:

  • Back, Neck & Spine Injury
  • First Responder illnesses such as cancer or heart and lung disease
  • Fractures
  • Shoulder & Knee Injury

What benefits does Louisiana workers’ compensation provide?

Medical benefits – Louisiana workers’ compensation is supposed to pay for all reasonable and necessary medical treatment related to a work injury. These payments may include doctor and hospital bills, prescription medications, and medical supplies such as crutches, wheelchairs or prostheses. Healthcare providers should bill the workers’ compensation insurance carrier and leave you out of the loop. You are also entitled to mileage reimbursement for traveling to and from your doctor appointments.

Wage replacement – If you are unable to work, you can receive two-thirds of your regular wages, subject to a maximum weekly amount. You should be able to receive these benefits for as long as necessary until your doctor certifies you have reached maximum medical improvement. If you can work part-time or on a light-duty assignment that pays less than 90% of your normal wages, you can receive supplemental earning benefits. These benefits amount to two-thirds of the difference between your regular and reduced wages, subject to the weekly maximum. You can obtain these supplemental benefits for up to 520 weeks.

Other wage loss benefits are available to those who are permanently disabled. If you are totally and permanently disabled, meaning you can’t work in any job, you can receive two-thirds of your regular wages (subject to the weekly maximum) for the entire length of your disability. Permanent total disability benefits are only available for the most severely debilitating injuries, such as the loss of both hands, arms, feet, legs or eyes.

If you are considered to be permanently partially disabled, you can receive two-thirds of your wages up to the weekly maximum for a number of weeks, depending on your disability rating (the severity of your disability) and the body part involved.

Finally, some workers may receive a lump sum of up to $50,000 for certain catastrophic injuries, such as:

  • Paraplegia
  • Quadriplegia
  • Amputation of the hands, feet, arms or legs
  • Physical loss of the eyes

At Lunsford, Baskin & Priebe PLLC, our Louisiana workers’ compensation attorneys can help you with every stage of the workers’ compensation process, including what to do if your claim is denied. Navigating the Louisiana workers’ comp system on your own can be frustrating at best and unsuccessful at its worst; let our legal professionals take on this task for you and see that you get the benefits you need and deserve. Workers’ compensation is all we do.

Workers’ Compensation Claims Process

A poster at your workplace tells you who to notify in case of a workplace accident, injury or illness. The poster may make it seem like all you do is make a call, and the rest is taken care of for you from there. Unfortunately, that is often not the case. Workers’ compensation claims have many pitfalls and traps along the way that can result in your claim being denied or underpaid, or your benefits terminated early.

If you want to take the stress and worry off your shoulders so you can focus on getting better without hassling over your benefits, call the workers’ compensation attorneys at Lunsford, Baskin & Priebe PLLC. We help injured workers in Jackson, Mississippi, and New Orleans, Louisiana, and workers’ compensation is all we do. Our dedicated, 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 are the steps to getting workers’ compensation benefits?

Generally speaking, your workers’ compensation claim will go through the following process:

Notify Employer – After any workplace accident or injury, or if you have been diagnosed with an occupational disease, you should notify your employer as soon as possible. This notification will likely either be to your supervisor or to a person designated by the company to receive workers’ compensation notices. Both Mississippi and Louisiana require that you report the accident within 30 days, but the sooner you notify your boss, the sooner the claims process will get rolling.

Employer Files Claim – Once the employer is notified, the state and the company’s insurance carrier will be notified. In Mississippi, the employer files with the Workers’ Compensation Commission (WCC) in Jackson and also notifies its workers’ comp carrier. In Louisiana, the employer files a First Report of Injury with the insurer, and the insurer submits a claim to the Louisiana Workforce Commission.

Appeal to Agency – In the best-case scenario, you will soon start to receive wage replacement benefits, and the insurer will cover your medical bills. If there is a dispute and benefits are not being paid, you may need to file a claim with the WCC or Workforce Commission. In Mississippi, you have two years from the injury to file a claim with the WCC to appeal a denial by the insurer. This process is started by filing a petition to controvert. In Louisiana, the statute of limitations is one year for a wage dispute, or one year or three years for a dispute over medical coverage.

Appeal to Court – Filing an appeal will lead to a hearing before an administrative law judge. In Mississippi, you can appeal the judge’s order by appealing to the Full Commission within 20 days. The Full Commission may review records filed by the parties, or it may hold another hearing. If dissatisfied with the Full Commission result, you have 30 days to appeal to Circuit Court or the Mississippi Supreme Court if you choose. In Louisiana, you can appeal a decision of the administrative law judge to the Circuit Court of Appeal within 30 days.

The further you go in the workers’ compensation process, the more technical and complicated the steps become, and the more critical it is to have an experienced workers’ comp lawyer representing you. Retaining a lawyer sooner may help you get your benefits sooner, and it will also cost less to resolve your claim without having to go to court. Our dedicated workers’ comp lawyers can help you at any and every stage of the workers’ compensation process in Mississippi and Louisiana.

How Workers’ Compensation Claims Get Denied

It’s reasonable to expect that if you’ve been hurt on the job, your employer’s workers’ compensation insurance will kick in and cover your medical expenses and lost wages. Unfortunately, it doesn’t always work like that. Many times, workers are shocked to hear that their injury is not being covered. Just because your claim was denied, that doesn’t mean you aren’t entitled to benefits. What it does mean, though, is that you are going to have to fight to get those benefits paid. You don’t have to do this alone, however. The workers’ compensation attorneys at Lunsford, Baskin & Priebe PLLC in New Orleans and Jackson will stand up for you and appeal your denial through the proper channels. If the insurer’s denial was wrong, we’ll make it right, so that you can get the benefits you need and deserve after a workplace injury in Mississippi or Louisiana.

Why are workers’ compensation claims denied?

Your claim may get denied for something as simple as not filling out your application completely or failing to inform your employer promptly after the accident. Other reasons your claim could be denied include the following:

The injury was not work-related – A compensable injury has to happen in the course and scope of employment. The insurer may claim your accident occurred while you were off-duty, goofing off or that the injury didn’t occur at the workplace at all.

The injury was pre-existing – A common basis for denial is that you had a pre-existing condition that is the true source of your ailment. When this isn’t the case, we can help you prove it by producing medical records from before and after the accident and introducing evidence of your lifestyle before the accident. If a workplace injury aggravated a pre-existing condition, you might be entitled to compensation for aggravation of the condition.

Intoxication or willful intent – In Mississippi, employers can deny a workers’ comp claim if the employee was intoxicated or under the influence of drugs at the time of the injury. This includes the abuse of legally prescribed medications as well as using illegal drugs. Claims can also be denied if the accident was caused by “willful intent.”

You are an independent contractor – Workers’ compensation in Louisiana and Mississippi only covers employees and not independent contractors. Lots of times, however, workers are misclassified as independent contractors when they are really employees. Employers misclassify workers by mistake or intentionally to avoid paying minimum wage, overtime, or workers’ compensation. Unless you know for a fact that you are an independent contractor, it may be worthwhile to call our office for a free consultation if your claim has been denied for this reason.

So, what do I do if my claim is denied?

The insurer’s denial of your workers’ comp claim is never the final word. There are many steps you can take to appeal a denial. In Mississippi, you can petition for a hearing with an Administrative Law Judge or appeal to the Workers’ Compensation Commission. From there, you can appeal to Circuit Court or directly to the Mississippi Supreme Court. Not only may you obtain benefits that are due to you, but you may also be entitled to other money damages, including punitive damages, if the denial was in bad faith.

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.

Help is Available for New Orleans Workers’ Compensation Claims

Although these benefits are no-fault, the insurers who dominate the Louisiana system deny as many claims as possible. They line their pockets in the process, but injured workers and their families suffer.

Lunsford Baskin & Priebe can help. We have represented injured workers for decades, and we know how to get claims approved. To learn more about our services, contact our New Orleans workers’ compensation lawyer for a free case evaluation.

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