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What to Expect in an Asbestos Illness Workers' Compensation Claim

Expect a fight, even though these claims are technically no-fault claims. Since 2003, workers’ compensation insurance premiums have plummeted 75%. Less money in the system means injured workers must fight harder before they get a fair-sized piece of a shrinking financial pie. Additionally, insurance companies can challenge the no-fault aspect of these claims and, in some cases, shift blame to the victim. More on that below.

The workers’ compensation legal process varies in different states. However, the determination of an asbestos exposure lawyer is always the same. This determination pays off. The average attorney-guided workers’ compensation settlement is much higher than the average non-attorney-negotiated settlement. Quite simply, if victims have lawyers, insurance companies are willing to pay extra if that money allows them to avoid a cartoon fight.

The Legal Process

As mentioned, workers’ compensation defenses often cast a shadow over the entire legal process. Occupational disease claims, like toxic exposure illness and hearing loss, usually involve the work-related defense.

Quite simply, insurance company lawyers claim that a non-work-related event, which in this case is usually smoking, caused the victim’s injury. Workers’ compensation laws vary in different states, but in all jurisdictions, the injury must be substantially work-related.

If a non-work condition, like smoking, contributes to the victim’s illness, maximum benefits are usually available. An asbestos exposure lawyer, typically working in partnership with a doctor, accurately draws the line between a substantial and contributing cause.

Workers’ compensation benefits usually include lost wage replacement and medical bill payment. Additional compensation for noneconomic losses, such as pain and suffering, is available in some cases.

Following the medical diagnosis process, the legal process begins in earnest. Initially, a Claims Examiner reviews the medical records and pays the claim, denies the claim, or approves it in part. Because of the aforementioned financial pressures, most Claims Examiners deny most claims.

The next level of review is usually a senior claims examiner's review. This individual almost always affirms the initial ruling.

So, victims only get fair hearings at an Administrative Law Judge review. ALJ reviews are basically private trials. So, the hearing is much more than a paper review or a rubber-stamp approval. Instead, attorneys can introduce evidence, challenge evidence, and make legal arguments.

The Settlement Process

The workers’ compensation settlement process is basically parallel to the legal claims process. Settlement negotiations with insurance companies usually begin once medical treatment is at least substantially complete.

This delay is frustrating but necessary. Asbestosis and other asbestos-exposure illnesses almost always require ongoing medical treatment. If a claim settles too early, the settlement might not fully account for all these expenses. As a result, the victim could be financially responsible for such bills.

Basically, asbestosis is a serious lung disease. Highly toxic asbestos fibers, although they are microscopic in size, burn lung tissues. The resulting scar tissue blocks narrow airways. Advanced asbestosis is almost untreatable unless a radical and risky total lung transplant is an option.

Many claims settle immediately prior to the ALJ review hearing. Insurance companies know the tables are turned at this point.

Work With a Tough-Minded Attorney

Asbestos exposure victims need and deserve significant compensation. For a free consultation with an experienced nationwide mesothelioma lawyer, contact the Throneberry Law Group. The sooner you reach out to us, the sooner we start working for you.

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