Federal Workers Compensation: You Won't Have Court But You Still Need A Lawyer

If you work for the administrative, legislative or judicial branches of the US government, or you work for the post office, your workers compensation claim will be covered by the laws of the United States Department of Labor rather than by your individual state's workers compensation laws.

All decisions are governed by the rules of the Office of Worker's Compensation Programs (OWCP), and the process can be tricky. There are no court appearances necessary, or appeals outside of the OWCP. However, you still need an experienced federal worker's compensation attorney, such as Ball & Ferrari, to guide you through the process of collecting income and medical care if you are injured on the job.

The decisions about your workplace injury are purely administrative.

No judge hears your case; no court will hear any arguments about a decision not made in your favor.

A claims examiner will examine your medical history and other supporting documents and issue a decision. If the decision is not in your favor, you may request a hearing with the Employee Compensation Review Board, which will be done by phone. Your attorney will know the dates by which you must file your request, and will also know the exact forms and documents necessary to have an appeal granted.

He or she will also know the correct wording to use, and to whom any correspondence must be addressed.

Sometimes a hearing is not in your best interest.

Hearings can take many months to be scheduled; these are months when you aren't receiving income.

Often, a request can be made to a senior claims examiner for a reconsideration of the decision, or for a review of the written record. This may prove to be a faster way to get some relief and to have medical procedures covered.

One of the worst places to be, medically speaking, is awaiting necessary surgery because you're caught in the insurance trap: your health insurance policy won't cover workplace injuries, but your workers compensation case hasn't yet been approved to cover the surgery.

If your case is denied again, then your attorney can prepare for the hearing. Again, a skilled attorney will know how to navigate this system to get the quickest results.

Federal Employees' Compensation Act (FECA) attorney rules are different.

A FECA attorney can't charge a percentage of your award, and no liens can be made on any liable party for attorney fees.

He or she will normally charge by the hour, and may delay billing until the client reaches settlement.

Because of the complexity and inflexibility of the federal system, it's wise to have a lawyer by your side to look out for your best interests if you've been injured while working for the federal government.