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work comp indiana

Hiring an Attorney for Your Worker’s Compensation Dispute

 

Should I hire an attorney?

It is your right to either represent yourself in a worker’s compensation dispute or to hire an attorney. If an Application for Adjustment of Claim (Form 29109) is filed with the Board in your case, then by law, your employer must hire an attorney. Thus, it is often advisable, although not required, that the injured worker be represented as well.

When deciding whether you want to involve an attorney, keep in mind that Indiana’s worker’s compensation laws are written in a way which tend to favor the employer as opposed to the injured employee.

How much does it cost to hire a worker’s compensation attorney?

A free legal consultation with an attorney experienced in the Indiana worker’s compensation system may help you to better determine whether your rights are being protected and whether legal representation is needed at that time.

Attorney fees are limited by the Indiana Worker’s Compensation Act. According to the law, attorneys can charge $200.00 up front, as well as a percentage of any recovery received in a worker’s compensation case. Attorneys may be willing to waive the upfront fee until the case is settled. The current recovery fee percentage is 20% of the first $50,000 and 15% of any remaining amount.

Example:

Deborah and her attorney settled her worker’s compensation case for $60,000. Since the attorney agreed to waive the upfront fee of $200 until the case was resolved, a breakdown of attorney’s fees includes $200, plus 20% of $50,000, plus 15% of the remaining $10,000.

Amount to Attorney: $200 + (.20 x $50,000) + (.15 x $10,000) = $11,700

Amount to Deborah: $60,000 – $11,700 = $48,300

At the end of the case, you may also be asked to pay for any out-of-pocket expenses incurred by the attorney for items such as medical records, postage, long distance phone calls, appointments with specialists, and so forth. These expenses were not included in the above example.

Can the family of a deceased worker object to a Worker’s Compensation Board-approved autopsy?

 

Sort of.

If the Worker’s Compensation Board approves of the autopsy to determine the cause of death, but the family of the deceased refuses to allow the autopsy, then death benefits may be suspended to eligible dependents. So, even though the employer may not be able to proceed with the autopsy without your family’s approval, the deceased’s dependents may not receive his or her death benefits until the autopsy is approved.

Please refer to Indiana Code §22-3-3-6(h) for further clarification on this requirement.

How long will you receive medical treatment for your worker’s compensation claim?

You will receive medical treatment until you are released from the doctor at maximum medical improvement, which basically means your injury is as good as it will get and will not significantly improve with more treatment.

workers comp indiana

From this point forward, you are free to treat with a doctor on your own, but you will have to pay for this treatment. Exceptions apply to those workers who qualify for permanent total disability, or who are eligible for future medical benefits.

Is an injury resulting from horseplay at work covered under the Indiana Worker’s Compensation Act?

It depends.

If your employer is aware of and has gone along with this kind of activity in the past, then your injury may be considered in the course of the employment. Similarly, if you were horsing around but stopped so you could get back to work, and the other person kept messing with you leading to your injury, you may meet the standard.

In other words, if you were the innocent victim of another person’s horseplay, or if your employer allows the horseplay to proceed without intervening, the injury may be compensable. Otherwise, a worker injured while participating in horseplay is not entitled to worker’s compensation.