If you've been injured at work and need to find a workers' compensation law attorney, learn some basics about workers' comp law. Articles on workers' comp on Lawyers.com can give you a good start. Also visit the web site for your state's industrial commission. It should have claimant information specific to your state's laws.
Several resources are available to find a lawyer in your area:
- Try the Lawyers.com directory to find local workers' comp attorneys. You can find information on attorneys, including ratings and reviews, along with contact information
- Professional organizations. State and local bar associations, and associations specific to workers' comp law usually offer referral services
- A general internet search can add to your list of candidates, and you may find articles or blogs written by workers' comp attorneys in your area
- Ask co-workers, friends, family and others you know if they've worked with a workers' comp attorney, and if they'd recommend using him or her
If you have a lawyer, who you've worked with on other legal matters, such as for your taxes, estate planning or real estate needs, ask if they can suggest a workers' comp lawyer who works with workers' comp claimants.
When you have a short list of two or three lawyers, contact them and set up a consultation. Typically, workers' comp lawyers won't charge a fee for the initial meeting. During your meeting, the lawyer assesses your case, and you can decide if you'd like to have the lawyer represent you. If your meeting can't be scheduled promptly, it can mean the lawyer's caseload is heavy, and he may lack resources to take on your case.
At your consultation, keep the following factors in mind and use them to help decide if you want to hire the attorney.
- Find information about the lawyer's background in worker's comp law and biographical info. The lawyer's web site and your state's licensing agency (often the state bar association, depending on your state) are good sources
- Determine if the lawyer and/or their law firm represents claimants (employees) or employers (or the employer's insurer). Workers' comp lawyers usually work for one side or the other. A call to the lawyer's office is a quick way to find out
- Find out the level of experience the lawyer has with workers' comp cases, and how long he or she has worked in this area of law. You can also ask how much of the lawyer's practice is devoted to workers' comp cases
- You can ask the lawyer about his or her experience with your employer's workers' comp insurance carrier, and their lawyers
- When you meet the lawyer, pay attention to whether he or she is a good listener, understands the issues in your case and is in command of how the law applies
- You should feel comfortable with the attorney, and have the impression that he or she can bring resolution to your workers' comp claim
- Pay attention to the office staff; if you hire the lawyer, you'll likely interact with them on a regular basis. They should be polite, professional and helpful
During your meeting, ask the lawyer for a retainer agreement and references, which may include clients or other lawyers. Follow up with provided references; they should back up your opinions about the lawyer. Ask the lawyer to go over the retainer agreement. Attorney's fees are usually set by state law and are based on a portion of the amount you recover and costs, so you won't be facing a retainer fee. Ask about estimated costs, such as court reporters, copying and expert witness fees.
If the lawyer agrees to take your case, and you decide to hire him or her, you should be comfortable and confident about your decision. Your case may take time, even up to several years, so you may be using your lawyer's services for the long haul. Make the best choice for your case.
Questions for Your Attorney
- Have you represented many claimants who worked in my profession and suffered similar injuries?
- Can you represent me at all levels of my workers' comp case?
- Do you concentrate your practice on any specific types of workers' comp claims?