Here is the truth about filing your workers comp claim by yourself!
Even though hiring a workers comp lawyer costs you nothing upfront and will often get you more money than you could otherwise get on your own, injured workers still try to handle their claims on their own.
So what are the dangers you face if you try to do it by yourself? And what are the harsh truths about filing a workers compensation claim without a lawyer that most people are unaware of? We’re going to answer both of those questions right now!
My name is Rex Zachofsky and I became a New York workers compensation lawyer 17 years ago after getting injured on the job. If you’re looking for a lawyer to help you with your claim with New York Workers Compensation Benefits, please give me a call at 212-406-8989 to schedule a free consultation.
We’re also able to assist with Personal Injury Matters, Social Security Disability, and Labor & Employment Issues.
One of the first hard truths about filing your workers comp claim by yourself is that you probably don’t fully understand the process.
Filing a workers comp claim isn’t rocket science, but no amount of YouTube videos are going to adequately prepare you to prosecute your case if the insurance company wants to deny some or all of it. Unfortunately, you don’t understand the system, you don’t know what elements you need to prove, you don’t know how to question your employer or doctors in court, and you certainly won’t know what information will actually make a difference to the judge’s ruling.
Despite this fact, injured workers go into court all the time and rant to the judge about what a terrible boss they have, how poorly they’re being treated, and what a great worker they’ve always been. And in the end the judge still rules against them because despite everything they said, they ultimately failed to lay out the elements of the case according to the law.
The second hard truth is that most injured workers don’t know their rights when filing a workers comp claim. And as a result they miss out on a lot of money.
Sometimes that money is small, like not realizing that you can get reimbursed for travel expenses when attending a doctor’s appointment. Other times that amount can be huge, like when an undocumented worker or someone being paid under the table fails to file a claim because they mistakenly believe they don’t qualify for workers compensation benefits.
Recently I had a person come to me who was employed by a New York company but was working out of state when she suffered a slip and fall. She didn’t think she qualified for benefits because her injury happened out of state, so she wasn’t going to file. I encouraged her to do so, and she eventually got an offer from the insurance company to settle her case for $47,000. She was so excited and said “Wow, I didn’t think I was going to get any money, $47,000 is amazing!”
And I said “Based on the injuries you sustained and the amount of money that you make, I would never be satisfied with $47,000.” She agreed to let me negotiate against the insurance company and we ended up getting her around $120,000, which is a lot of money to miss out on just because you’re not familiar with your rights.
Let’s suppose you’re in the same situation but you’ve done your research and have a good idea of what you’re entitled to. When you go to negotiate with the insurance company and they see that you don’t have a lawyer, do you think they’re going to agree to give you $120,000?
They know that injured workers typically don’t understand what’s going on, so not only will their first offer be terrible, but their second offer will likely be low too. They’ll assume you don’t know the ins and outs of the law and where the money is hidden, or what legal arguments you can make to justify receiving more money, so they’re likely going to give you lowball offers until you eventually give up and accept one.
The biggest harsh truth about filing a workers compensation claim by yourself is that there’s a much higher chance that you lose your claim.
The insurance company has ways of getting you to abandon your case. For example, after many hearings the New York Workers Compensation Board will send you a notice which marks it with the status of your case as “No Further Action.”
And the uninformed person will say “Wow, no further action, I guess my case is done!” When in reality “No Further Action” just means that you don’t need to respond to the notice. Your case is still open and could potentially be worth a lot more money if you know how to move it forward.
But because people don’t know the process, they aren’t familiar with their rights, and they don’t have experience negotiating a workers compensation claim, they get scared away and leave a lot of money on the table.
The good news is, there’s a simple solution to all of these harsh truths, and it doesn’t cost you anything upfront.
Under the law you cannot be charged for a consultation on a workers compensation claim. And according to New York State law that went into effect in January of 2023, you can get a workers compensation lawyer free of charge and only pay them 15% of whatever they win for you.
So for example, if you’re entitled to $10,000 and the insurance company has only paid you $5,000, then the lawyer fights to get you another $5,000, he is only entitled to 15% of that additional $5,000.
That means you can get a lawyer on your side right now without having to worry about paying them with no money upfront. And as we just discussed, a good lawyer can often get you significantly more money than you would otherwise get on your own.
So if you or a loved one have been injured on the job here in New York and would like to set up a free consultation, please give me a call at 212-406-8989 today, and together we can get the treatment you need and the benefits you deserve.
And if this is your first time on my channel, be sure to subscribe and turn on notifications for the most up-to-date videos on filing for New York worker’s compensation. This is your one-stop-shop for everything you need to know when it comes to successfully filing and maximizing your claim.
So click here to watch this video next, and I’ll see you there!