Workers’ compensation claims might help you collect the money you need for medical care and lost income if you’ve been hurt on the job.
Workers’ compensation, however, may be difficult to navigate, and insurance companies frequently look for ways to cut expenses.
The assistance of a skilled workers’ compensation lawyer can be crucial. Here are some things to consider when picking a workers’ comp attorney:
Do Your Research
Do some research before hiring an attorney, whether through the internet or the yellow pages. Find a lawyer or law firm with the necessary experience, knowledge, and track record in workers’ comp lawsuits by doing thorough research. Seek Out an Attorney Who
- Specializes in workers’ compensation – This complex area of the law has many nuances so you want someone well-versed in your state’s workers’ comp system. Avoid dabblers.
- Has experience handling cases like yours – Find out details about the types of injury cases the lawyer has handled and the results achieved. An attorney experienced with back injuries, for example, will understand those medical issues better.
- Is knowledgeable about your type of workplace – Representing injured construction workers requires different expertise than helping office employees navigate their claims. Make sure the attorney is familiar with your industry and setting.
- Has a track record of success – A lawyer can boast of experience but you need to verify they have a proven history of getting positive results for clients. Don’t be afraid to ask about win-loss ratios.
- Is respected by peers – Well-regarded lawyers will have a solid professional reputation among other attorneys in your area. Talk to people in the legal community.
Don’t just take a lawyer’s word about their background and skills. Verify credentials like:
- Education – Where did they go to law school? Better programs provide more comprehensive training.
- Admissions – Are they licensed in your state? How long have they been practicing law? More experience is better.
- Focus – Do they specialize in workers’ comp or take all kinds of cases? Specialists have greater expertise.
- Memberships – Do they belong to state and national trial lawyer associations? This signals a commitment to the field.
- Past employers – Have they worked at respected law firms handling workers’ comp cases? This gives confidence in their skills.
- Honors and awards – Have they been recognized for legal abilities and achievements? Look for lawyers acclaimed by peers.
Feedback from former clients can shed light on a lawyer’s professionalism, work ethic, communication style, and success rate. Check the lawyer’s web reputation, but don’t forget to also ask for client references. Take note of:
- What clients say about the lawyer’s attention to detail, responsiveness and focus on their case.
- Examples of the attorney’s ability to maximize compensation and get excellent results.
- Any description of the lawyer going above and beyond to help an injured client.
- Glowing reviews from other lawyers, judges or professionals in workers’ comp.
- Consistency in positive reviews rather than spotty complaints or criticisms.
A solid reputation for diligent, caring and successful representation of injured workers is a good sign you’ve found the right lawyer.
Meet for a Consultation
Never sign anything or retain legal counsel based only on an advertisement, website, or phone conversation. Make sure you schedule a face-to-face meeting for a comprehensive consultation to evaluate:
- Expertise – Do they understand the intricacies of your case and workers’ comp system? Can they answer your questions precisely?
- Experience – Ask for examples of similar cases they’ve handled successfully. Gauge their familiarity with your type of injury and employment situation.
- Personality – Is the attorney upbeat, compassionate, a good listener and someone you feel comfortable with? Your gut reaction matters.
- Resources – Does the law firm have the staff, financial resources, medical experts and other capabilities to fully handle your case?
- Communication skills – Does the lawyer explain legal issues clearly in everyday language? Can you understand each other?
- Fees – What is the fee structure and billing process? Contingency fees based on a settlement amount are typical. Get details in writing.
You should leave the consultation feeling like you’ve discovered the person who will best represent your interests, help you get the most money for your claim, and guide you through the maze of legal hurdles that lie ahead. Just trust your gut.
Understand the Fee Structure
The best workers’ compensation attorneys take cases on a contingency fee basis, meaning they only get paid if you do. The average percentage of a settlement that goes toward a lawyer’s contingency fee is between 15% and 25%.
As the magnitude of the settlement grows, so too should the rate of the associated fees. Lawyers that demand a retainer up front or charge by the hour should raise red flags. Verify your comprehension:
- The precise percentage fee or payment structure. Have it explained clearly in writing.
- What expenses might be deducted from a settlement versus covered by the lawyer.
- Your total estimated payment at different sample settlement amounts.
- Whether the stated percentage is fixed or negotiable.
Don’t let questions about costs discourage you from seeking legal counsel. Make sure that the fee the lawyer will earn if you win the lawsuit is discussed openly from the beginning.
Check Out References
It is important that any prospective attorney provides client references. You can learn things just from talking to former customers. Among the most crucial inquiries to make are:
- How accessible was your lawyer when you needed them? Did they keep you up to date and respond to your inquiries?
- How much did they end up getting paid to settle your case? Were you happy with it?
- Have they been able to have your medical costs covered?
- Was the attorney you hired considerate and understanding of your situation?
- How was their communication and bargaining with healthcare providers?
- If you knew someone else who needed help with workers’ compensation, would you refer them to this attorney?
- Is there anything about the attorney’s service or approach that you would alter?
Pay particular attention to the ways in which former clients describe the lawyer’s expertise, accessibility, concern, and efficacy.
Compare Multiple Lawyers
It’s a good idea to talk to multiple lawyers before settling on one. Take the time to investigate and speak with several lawyers, even if you feel comfortable with the first one you talk to. To make the best decision, it’s helpful to compare several possibilities.
Consider the lawyer’s fee, reputation, resources, depth of experience, and dedication to workers’ compensation cases. Think about who made you feel at ease and who seemed like they knew what they were talking about.
Don’t base your decision just on price; a more costly attorney may be able to secure a larger payout, more than offsetting the higher portion of the settlement that will go to the lawyer. Consider price as much as skill, experience, and enthusiasm for aiding injured workers.
Review the Contract Carefully
Understand exactly what you’re getting into before signing a fee agreement with a lawyer. Key points to look for include:
- The lawyer’s responsibilities – What specific legal services will they provide? Get details.
- Your responsibilities – What tasks are you expected to handle? Read carefully.
- Billing structure – Review the precise contingency fee percentage and process.
- Expenses – Who covers costs like medical records, filing fees, etc?
- When expenses get deducted – Upfront or out of settlement funds?
- Trial representation – Is taking your case to court promised or only a possibility?
- Termination terms – Under what conditions can either party withdraw?
Do not feel obligated to sign anything. Before choosing a workers’ compensation attorney, ensure sure all of your inquiries are answered and the agreement fully satisfies your needs.
Trust Your Instincts
The greatest way to choose the right lawyer is to go with your gut and not a list. After extensive investigation, choose a lawyer in whom you have faith and with whom you feel comfortable discussing the circumstances of your injuries.
Pay attention to red flags like:
- The lawyer seems disorganized or distracted during your interactions.
- They can’t readily answer your questions or seem unfamiliar with workers’ comp procedures.
- Past clients had bad experiences and report similar complaints.
- Their fee agreement contains suspicious clauses or confusing language.
Make sure you have a strong positive impression of the lawyer after meeting with them and learning about their experience and credentials and speaking with their references. Don’t brush off your worries, no matter how tiny. Don’t second-guess yourself.
It takes time and effort to research and interview prospective workers’ compensation lawyers. Don’t hire the first attorney you meet. Invest in careful investigation, verifying credentials, speaking with previous customers, and comparing possibilities.
The extra work pays off in the form of a top-notch attorney, a larger settlement, and a less stressful case overall. Finding the appropriate attorney to work with might make dealing with workers’ compensation considerably less stressful.
Take the initiative to learn about how to find competent legal counsel. When meeting lawyers in person, it is important to ask questions, investigate their credentials, obtain references, and trust your gut. Investing the time up front can save you a lot of hassle and help your claim turn out much better.
You may rest easy once you’ve done your research and found the perfect person to handle your case.