Choosing a Workers’ Compensation Lawyer
If you’ve experienced a job-related injury or illness, hiring an attorney is often a smart step. But with workers’ compensation being such a complex and specialized field, it’s crucial you spend time looking for the right legal expert who can really help you maximize the benefits you are entitled to receive.
Firstly, ask those around you – friends, relatives, coworkers, etc. Your state and local bar associations, and legal aid offices will also be able to provide referrals.
The web can be helpful, but be wise when using it. If you find prospective attorneys online, know more about them. Visit their websites and check if they specialize in workers’ comp or if they take many other types of cases. Online reviews are also worth a look, but only if you find them on popular third-party websites. Many websites were created solely for marketing and will probably feature fabricated reviews.
When you have your initial consultation with a prospective lawyer, treat your meeting as a job interview. Nearly all lawyers don’t charge for an initial consultation, so take advantage of this meeting by asking as many relevant questions as possible. Below are good ones:
How much of your career is dedicated to workers’ comp?
Will you help me through the entire process, even when my case goes to court?
Are you going to work on my case directly or will you have a legal assistant or paralegal take charge?
How do we get in touch for updates?
Do you represent employers and insurers as well or just injured/sick workers?
Do you have workers’ comp board certification, and are you a member of any relevant professional organization or organizations?
What are the fees I need to pay, and how I do I pay them? Do you charge for litigation expenses, and what specific costs will be included? Do I still pay you if I lose my case?
The initial meeting is also the best time to assess the lawyer’s professionalism and demeanor around clients. A good attorney will be able to answer all your questions with authority and patience and will listen carefully to your concerns. If the lawyer doesn’t seem interested in what you have to say, there’s no point staying around.
Also consider the behavior of the office staff, including the legal assistants and paralegals. If you’re not happy with how they are around you, or if it takes forever for them to call or email back, consider other options.
Lastly, don’t feel obligated to hire the first lawyer who feels right for you. In fact, consulting with two or three more will give you lots of room for comparisons before making your final decision.