If you’ve been injured on the job, you may be thinking of hiring a workers’ comp lawyer. Navigating through the complicated world of workers’ compensation can be overwhelming; hiring a lawyer can help you secure the best possible outcome in your case.
Where to Look for a Workers' Comp Lawyer
Finding and interviewing lawyers can be intimidating, but it’s important to find someone who is a good match for you and your case. Not all lawyers are qualified to handle workers’ comp cases; you need to find someone who is. You should also feel comfortable with the lawyer and confident that he or she will have your best interests in mind. Here are some good places to start your search.
One of the best ways to find attorney recommendations is through people you already know. If you have friends, colleagues, or family members who have hired workers’ comp attorneys in the past, ask for their advice. Find out which lawyers they interviewed, who they ended up hiring, and whether they were satisfied with the representation. In particular, you should ask whether the attorney was communicative, charged a reasonable fee, and secured a favorable outcome.
Private Referral Services
Private lawyer referral services can match you up with a qualified workers’ comp attorney in your area. You can find several referral services online through private companies or organizations. Lawyers.com has a workers' comp lawyer directory where you can find lawyers in your area and see client reviews and ratings for different attorneys.
If you've previously worked with attorneys on other legal issues, they can also be a good resource for referrals. Lawyers often have expansive professional networks that include attorneys in other practice areas. Although your tax lawyer or divorce lawyer won’t be able to represent you in your workers’ comp case, they might have good recommendations for a workers’ comp lawyer.
All workers' comp attorneys must be licensed through a state bar association. Many state bar websites have attorney databases where you can search for a lawyer by practice area and location. Many state bars also have telephone hotlines that you can call in order to be matched with an attorney (called "lawyer referral services"). You may be charged a small administrative fee, for example $20 or $30, to use these services.
In many states, you can also use state bar websites to verify a lawyer’s credentials and background. For example, you can confirm whether a specific attorney is licensed to practice law and how long he or she has been in practice. Some states also provide special certifications for attorneys who meet certain requirements, such as practicing workers’ comp law for a set number of years or passing an additional exam in the field. State bar websites often list whether a lawyer is specially certified and whether he or she has ever been disciplined for illegal or unethical behavior.
How to Select a Workers' Comp Lawyer
Once you have gathered the names of two or three lawyers, you should call their offices to set up an initial meeting. Many workers’ comp lawyers will provide free initial consultations, over the phone or in person. In some states, such as California, the initial consultation must be free in workers’ compensation cases.
During the consultation, make sure to ask about the lawyer’s specific experience representing employees in workers’ comp cases. You can also ask if he or she has had previous cases against your employer and its insurance company. (It can help if the lawyer is familiar with the insurance company’s reputation, negotiation tactics, and the like.) You may also want to ask the lawyer for references from former clients, so you can find out about their experiences. (For more information, see What to Ask Before Hiring a Workers' Comp Lawyer.)
Having a lawyer on your side will help you protect your rights and maximize your benefits. However, it's important to find the right lawyer for your case. Using these tools can help you find someone who is well qualified, has a proven track record, and will get you the best result possible.
Before you sign up with any lawyer, though, make sure the lawyer gives you a clear understanding of how you will be billed for his or her services. (For more information on fees, see What Does It Cost to Hire a Workers' Compensation Lawyer?)