Under Delaware law, workers who suffer a job-related illness or injury are generally entitled to Workers’ Compensation benefits. However these claims can be denied. When this happens, the injured worker can file an appeal with the Office of Workers’ Compensation. The appeal process can be overwhelming with strict regulations and firm deadlines. Consulting with an experienced Delaware Workers’ Compensation lawyer is imperative for a successful outcome.
The work injury lawyers at Rhoades & Morrow are committed to helping their clients claim the maximum Workers’ Compensation benefits available to them. For over 30 years, the experienced team of Workers’ Compensation lawyers at the firm have helped countless clients successfully appeal their denial of benefits.
Workers’ Compensation insurance carriers provide incentives to employers for limiting claims. Many employers and Workers’ Compensation adjusters approach claims for benefits with a careful eye, searching for any cause to deny the claim. The most common cause for a denial stems from workers who fail to file their claim for benefits in a reasonable amount of time. Workers who suffer a work-related injury or illness must contact their employer and Workers’ Compensation benefit provider within 90 days of their accident.
Witness testimony and medical documentation are vital to a successful claim. Witnesses can validate the details of what caused the injury and can also document their testimony for future use. Workers’ Compensation benefits can also be denied to workers who test positive for illegal substances at the time of their accident, or if they refuse to allow the Workers’ Compensation insurance company to access their medical records.
Employers often deny Workers’ Compensation benefits when workers file a claim after they were terminated from employment, or if they believe the injuries or illness suffered were pre-existing health conditions or physical ailments. A qualified and competent Workers’ Compensation lawyer can gather pertinent evidence to support the worker’s claim and aid in the appeal process.
Those wishing to file an appeal will need to file a Petition to Determine Compensation Due with the Office of Workers’ Compensation within two years of the work-related injury. Those filing a claim related to an occupational illness must file their appeal within 12 months of diagnosis. The petition must provide a detailed explanation of the work injury or illness and justification on the request for a hearing with the Industrial Accident Board.
After a petition is filed, a pre-trial conference will be scheduled. Before this conference, the injured worker must provide the Office of Workers’ Compensation with information relating to witnesses who plan to testify, a detailed explanation of the benefits sought, why benefits are needed, and copies of medical records and the insurance company denial.
The Workers’ Compensation hearing is scheduled within 120 days of the pre-trial conference. The employer and the employee will have an opportunity to present their case, call and question witnesses from both sides, present evidence, and state their opposition to the claim or denial. A written decision by the Industrial Accident Board will be given within 14 days of the end of the trial. The Workers’ Compensation insurance company and the plaintiff have the right to appeal the Board’s decision with the Superior Court in the county where the worker was injured. No benefit payments will be made to the plaintiff during the appeal process.
The decision of the municipal Superior Court can also be appealed with the Delaware Supreme Court. Filing must occur within 30 days following the municipal Superior Court’s decision. The decision of the Delaware Supreme Court is final, and no further appeals can be filed.
When Workers’ Compensation benefits are denied, workers as well as their families suffer. Benefit payments are not made until a final decision has been determined by the Industrial Accident Board, the municipal superior court, or the Delaware Supreme Court. An experienced Delaware Workers’ Compensation lawyer can ensure that the legal rights of the injured worker are protected, and that the appeal process is done efficiently and without unnecessary delays.
The financial repercussions of lost wages, medical bills, and prescription medications or therapy can be significant. Families of injured workers risk the loss of their home, cars, and lifestyle while waiting for benefits to begin after the appeal process. Time is of the essence in this situation, and a competent work injury lawyer can expedite the process.
If you have been denied Workers’ Compensation benefits, call the Delaware Workers’ Compensation lawyers at Rhoades & Morrow today. Call our Wilmington office at (302) 427-9500, our Bear office at (302) 600-1107, or our Milford office at (302) 422-6705, or contact us online to schedule a free consultation. We serve individuals and families upstate and downstate Delaware, including those in Hockessin, Newark, Glasgow, Middletown, Smyrna, Dover, New Castle, Lewes, Georgetown, and Seaford.