How to Choose a Good Workers’ Compensation Lawyer
If you’ve had a work-related injury or illness, hiring a lawyer is a usually a smart move. But as workers’ compensation is such a complicated and specialized field, it’s important you spend time searching for the right legal professional who can help you get all the benefits you deserve.
First of all, ask people around you for recommendations – your friends, colleagues, family members, etc. Your state and local bar associations, and legal aid offices will also be able to provide referrals.
Certainly, the web can be helpful, but do use it wisely. If you see any attorneys online that seem interesting, find out 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. There are lots of websites made purely for marketing, so expect their reviews to be fabricated.
When talking to an attorney for the very first time, think of it as a job interview. Practically all workers’ comp attorneys offer a free initial consultation, so take advantage of this opportunity to ask as many questions as needed. The following are good ones:
How much of your practice do you devote to workers’ comp?
Can I count on you all throughout the process, especially if my case ever goes to court?
Will you be personally working on my case, or do you plan to assign it to a legal assistant or paralegal?
How can I communicate with you, and how do you update me on the progress of my case?
Do you work strictly with injured/sick workers, or do you also represent employers and insurance companies?
Are you board-certified in workers’ compensation and do you belong to any relevant professional organizations?
What fees should I pay and how? Do you charge for litigation expenses, and what specific costs will be included? If I lose my case, should I still pay you?
This first meeting is also the best time for you to see into the attorney’s professionalism and demeanor towards clients. A good attorney will answer all your queries in a patient yet authoritative manner, and will be sincerely interested in your concerns. If you don’t feel the lawyer’s sincerity and interest, there’s no reason to hang around.
Also try to observe how the staff, including the paralegals and legal assistants, treat you. 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 think you’re obliged to hire the first lawyer you seem to like. In fact, it’s usually wise to consult with two or three more so you can compare them before making your final choice.