There was once a time in America when workers really had no rights whatsoever. Due to legislative pushes from unions and workers’ rights organizations, however, this has fundamentally changed. One area that saw great improvement was worker injuries. Workers who are injured on the job are usually eligible to receive workers’ compensation payments. Unfortunately, workers’ comp insurers may engage in something known as bad faith, and as the name suggests, it isn’t often positive for the worker.
The workers’ compensation system is that which takes care of workers after they’ve been injured, regardless of the severity of the injury or whose negligence, if anyone’s, caused it. Some employers may require certain prerequisites, such as passing a drug test, before benefits are paid out, but other than that there aren’t many hurdles, besides the insurance company and employer themselves, between a worker and compensation.
Though some will say that a workers’ comp attorney is necessary in every case, this simply is not true. For minor injuries, such as cuts, minor burns or ankle sprains, a worker can usually handle the issue through the insurance agency. This is because the medical treatment is usually simple and recovery is quick without many future issues. When an injury is serious, however, or is going to cause a significant amount of time away from work, it’s usually best to have an attorney handle the situation.
What is Bad Faith?
All insurers, including workers’ comp insurance companies, have a duty to act in “good faith” in their dealings. This means that they are honest and provide fair compensation without trying to rip off anyone. When they fail in this duty, it is known as insurance bad faith. This could occur if an insurer is trying to offer a significantly low settlement, stalling in an effort to make an injured worker settle for less, or even unfairly denying a claim.
When insurers act in bad faith, those affected by it can sue for damages. This doesn’t just include the initial workers’ compensation settlement they should’ve received, though. The damages that they receive from the insurer are in excess of what they’ll receive for their injury. This is the law’s way of trying to make sure that these companies act fairly towards those they’re supposed to help.
How to spot Bad Faith Practices
There are several ways in which a workers’ comp insurer may go about dodging their responsibility, but luckily, many of these tactics are quite easy to spot. When adjusters fail to return a person’s calls or asks them to go to the doctor for repeated examinations, it’s usually a sign that they’re stalling. This tactic is used because, as time passes, it becomes more and more difficult, even with an attorney, for a person to get all that they’re entitled to.
Additionally, workers’ comp insurers may say that a worker isn’t actually injured or may promise a payment that never shows up. Once again, these are stalling methods. In fact, in the case of an adjuster claiming that a worker isn’t injured, they may be attempting to dodge any compensation whatsoever. When an insurer is engaging in bad faith, a worker has very little hope of success without an attorney.
Workers have the right to be taken care of while recovering from an injury that they sustained at work. Sadly, insurance companies, which are in the business of making money, are hardly ever in a rush to hand over the compensation that a person deserves. There are many instances when an injured worker should seek legal help, but when they believe they’re being treated in bad faith, finding an attorney is all but a necessity.
Having had a similar experience, Lisa Coleman shares what workers compensation is and what bad faith practices are in an effort to help others who might have had a similar experience. If you have been involved in such an act, or are not sure if you have been, contact a workplace injury lawyer like Doyle & Raizner and have a consult to find out your rights.
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