In an article by Denise Johnson in Claims Journal, Bogdan Savych, a public policy analyst with the Workers Compensation Research Institute, talked about a recent study of 7,000 workers’ compensation claims in eleven states that had been conducted to determine the reason for hiring attorneys. The states included Pennsylvania, Maryland, Tennessee, North Carolina, California, Massachusetts, Florida, Connecticut, Michigan, Texas, and Wisconsin.
Each state varied significantly, but the three main reasons for seeking representation were as follows:
Feeling threatened: If an employer threatens a claimant, they may be compelled to find a lawyer to ensure they receive benefits, especially if they feel their job is in jeopardy. Also, if the claimant senses disbelief on behalf of a superior, there is a higher chance they will find a lawyer.
The fear of being denied: The most obvious form of denial would be an official notice, but deferment of payments or word from an executive can also cause the claimant to get a lawyer. According to Savych, “In those instances, workers were 34 percent more likely to retain attorneys.”
Serious Injury: The severity of the injury directly linked with whether or not the claimant sought representation. Serious injury = lawyer.
Other predictions included demographics such as age, education level, years on the job, etc. Example: “Older workers were more likely to be represented,” said Savych.
Despite these factors, there are ways to steer clear of excessive attorney involvement. Implementing supervisor training, dispensing materials to employees for educational purposes, and practicing quick, concise communication between supervisor and claimant in the event of an accident can decrease the chances of attorney representation.