After sustaining a serious injury or becoming ill due to your job, working with a highly trained attorney is crucial. These legal professionals not only ensure your rights are protected under the law but that you can have access to all the benefits under your state's worker's compensation program.
The challenge in hiring a lawyer is finding one. Work injuries are a complex area of law for any skilled attorney to navigate, making it doubly important that you only hire an attorney who has a successful track record representing your type of worker's compensation case. You may be asking yourself how you will find a work injury attorney near you. Read on to learn more about where to begin your search and how to determine if your prospective lawyer is a good fit.
Tips When Searching for a Work Injury Lawyer
One of the most significant issues you may run into when seeking quality representation for your work injury is finding an attorney who primarily practices workman's comp law. Many firms operate as a boutique, meaning they offer several practice areas and may not have a specialization or significant experience in work injuries. In addition, not all personal injury attorneys are the same, and you need legal counsel that regularly or exclusively represents you in this area.
When trying to find a work injury attorney near you on the internet, be sure to review their website for the following information carefully:
- Professional organization memberships
- Any publications they've released regarding worker's compensation law.
- Testimonials from former clients that won or settled their workers' comp claims successfully.
- If their primary practice of law is focused on worker's compensation.
While this information is important to learn about, their website shouldn't be your only source of research. Review several attorney websites, taking note of any relevant experience or professional recognition for their work. Also, jot down their contact information on a shortlist of prospects you'd like to contact for further information about their services and your case.
Your Initial Consultation is Essentially an Interview
Free initial consultations are somewhat standard for work injury lawyers, so don't be shy about scheduling some with law firms that seem a good fit. At this meeting, the attorney will ask you numerous questions about your accident, the losses you've suffered, and how your life has been impacted. Make sure you have a list of your own questions and concerns to ask, as well. Quality firms welcome and encourage prospective clients to do this. They want to represent you and don't want any confusion to get in the way of securing your business.
Because this is like a job interview, consider asking some or all of the following questions to gauge their level of expertise:
- How long have you practiced law?
- Do you mostly represent worker's compensation cases?
- Will you be by my side through the entire process, even going to trial if necessary?
- What references do you have from colleagues and/or clients?
- How much of my case will you personally oversee?
- Are you available to take phone calls from me regularly?
- Does your firm represent both work injuries and the insurers who have to pay for them?
- What professional recognitions have you received?
- Have you undergone any additional training for worker's compensation cases?
- How do you expect to be paid? Do you have a fee schedule in writing?
- Are there additional costs I'm responsible for?
- Can you refer me to a doctor that is recommended for treating work injuries?
- Can you estimate the value of my case?
- What challenges do you see for my work injury claim?
Keep in mind there are many other appropriate questions to ask a prospective attorney, depending on the circumstances of your case. This is why you should write them down in a notebook and bring it with you to the initial consultation.
Any Work Injury Attorney You Hire Near You Should Treat You with Respect
Besides getting a feel for the attorney's skills and experience, an initial consultation can help you evaluate their professionalism and character. When asking them questions, they should seem eager to listen and answer in a way that is clear and in terms you understand. Patience is also crucial. If they keep interrupting you, overtalk you, or dismiss your concern without explaining why you may want to consider a different lawyer for your case.
Remember, you're hiring legal representation to help you get compensated. Your needs, goals and general well-being should be their primary focus. Transparency and compassion are important traits in an accomplished work injury lawyer. The working relationship you build over the course of your case is key to successfully getting a fair and just worker's compensation settlement or award verdict.
Don't only worry about how your prospective attorney treats you, but also their staff. When you first arrived at the office, did they greet you with a smile? Were they willing to help you fill out paperwork? How did they speak to those calling the office? All of these behaviors are equally important when choosing a work injury attorney near you.
If you already hired representation, but you aren't receiving regular updates or rarely hear from your lawyer, this could be a problem. Speak up and let them know your concerns about the lack of communication from their office. If this doesn't help or they explain they are just too busy with other cases, it may be time to start looking for a different worker's compensation law firm.
What Should I Do if an Attorney Refuses My Work Injury Case?
Nothing is more frustrating when looking for a work injury lawyer than their refusing to take your claim. Because most worker's compensation firms will receive a percentage of won compensation as payment, they are cautious about taking cases that are difficult to recover in or will recover far less than the resources they invested. Worse, if they are doubtful about winning your case, they may refuse it since they get paid on a contingency fee basis. This means they don't get a dime unless you win.
Other factors that could cause a work injury attorney to refuse your case are:
Your Injury is Hard to Prove
Most work injuries are straightforward to prove. You fell off of a ladder while replacing a lightbulb in the ceiling at your job, for example. But, should your injury involve a chronic condition that developed over time working your job, like a repetitive strain injury or cancer from being exposed to toxic chemicals, proving your job caused it can be difficult. Of course, an attorney's skill plays a significant role in this, as well, and it could be that they don't have the background necessary to represent you adequately.
Scope of Your Injuries
Because work injury claims require significant resources to represent, minor injuries may not be worth the cost. This doesn't mean you don't deserve compensation, but moderate to severe injuries result in more significant compensation amounts.
The Amount and Type of Evidence You Have
The bedrock of any civil action for compensation is evidence to support the came. So when reviewing their case, they will evaluate the evidence you have, what you need, and if it's possible to gather what you're missing to build a solid case.
Work injury lawyers prefer not to come on board in the middle of a case, if possible. Getting started as early into your claim as possible ensures there are more available avenues to obtain compensation on your behalf successfully. When filing deadlines have already been missed, or you have already had a hearing where your claim was denied, they may not want to step in and assist.
At the end of the day, having a lawyer turn down your case doesn't mean you don't deserve to be compensated. Workload, experience, and the factors mentioned above can all influence their decision. So, if you get rejected, keep calling around and scheduling consultations till you find the right work injury attorney to partner with.
Red Flags that a Prospective Work Injury Lawyer is not a Good Fit
Because you have so much at stake when filing a worker's compensation claim, the attorney you choose to represent you must be a good fit. You know what qualities to look for and why your case might be refused, but what red flags should you look for when hiring?
Below are some important signs when a work injury lawyer isn't right for you:
- You never get a callback, or it's only their support staff returning your calls
- Your lawyer constantly needs reminders about the details of your case
- YOu rarely directly communicate with your lawyer
- You have no idea what the work injury claim process is about, and no one will answer your questions
- Your worker's comp benefits suddenly stop without warning
- You can't get your attorney to file additional claims relevant to your injuries
- Your attorney hasn't attempted to negotiate a settlement
- You are being pressured to settle for an amount that doesn't meet the scope of your damages
- Their staff members are doing the majority of the work on your case
At Morgan & Morgan, we believe in delivering a personal client experience. We are always available to take your questions and look forward to meeting with you about your case. With over 30 years of experience representing injured workers and their families, you can rely on our services and attorneys to provide an exceptional level of legal guidance and representation.