How to Choose the Best Workers’ Compensation Attorney for You

WORKERS' COMP OVERVIEW

Getting hurt on the job is bad enough. You’ve already got to deal with the pain and the discomfort of the injury, missing work, and generally having your life disrupted. Now you also have to deal with the workers’ compensation system (and your employer’s workers’ compensation insurer).

If you think you should have a lawyer, you’re probably on the right track. But every case and client is different, and you want the best workers’ compensation lawyer for you. Law firms and attorneys can’t generally claim to be the “best.” Firms and attorneys aren’t usually allowed to compare themselves to other attorneys directly in published material. Therefore, whether an attorney or firm is “best” for you is entirely your decision to make. A quick Google search reveals you have many options. How do you choose the right one?

Here are some things to consider while making that decision.

6 Keys to Selecting the Best Workers’ Compensation Lawyer for You

 

1: Decide What’s Important to You in a Workers’ Compensation Attorney

Maybe you’re the type of person who wants to know what’s happening every step of the way. Or, perhaps you’re the type of person who wants to know “it’s handled.” The first step to choosing the best workers’ compensation attorney for you is understanding yourself.

What you do in this step can help drive what you look for moving forward. Here are some factors you may want to use when defining your ideal workers’ compensation lawyer:

  • What do they practice? Are they solely devoted to workers’ compensation law, or do they also practice in other areas, such as personal injury?
  • How much experience do they have in workers’ compensation law? What kind of track record and credentials do they have?
  • What size is the firm? How big is it, and what benefits and resources does the firm itself offer?
  • How involved are you in the execution of your case? How often and how well do they communicate with clients?
  • How is the attorney or firm compensated? Is there an hourly fee? Do they work on a contingency fee basis? What costs are you responsible for and when?

Essentially, this step is about choosing important criteria in the attorney you hire, and you can have as many or as few as you like. Make a list, and remember that this is the first step. As you continue to learn and research, you may find new things to consider or find that some criteria aren’t as important to you anymore.

2: Research Workers’ Compensation Attorneys Online

This may be the step you’re on right now. It’ll give you a chance to learn a lot about workers’ compensation, your rights, and the available attorneys all at once. It never hurts to know more.

Two things to remember as you search:

  • There are many awards and professional ratings for attorneys. Depending on your state, there may be bar-based certifications or awards among your attorney’s credentials. You may want an attorney who solely practices workers’ compensation law.
  • Workers’ compensation law applies to your whole state, not just your hometown. The best workers’ compensation lawyer for you may not be near you – and virtual consultations are often available. Distance isn’t the limiting factor it once may have been.

Here are a couple search tips to keep in mind.

Know What You’re Searching For

Searching “best lawyers for accidents at work” and “top workers’ compensation law firm” may yield two very different sets of results. Try different combinations of words to produce more choices. The more terms you add, the more specific your search is. If you make your search too narrow, you may not have as many choices or fulfill all of your criteria.

Check Online Reviews

Online reviews are an excellent way to get an idea about a firm or attorney. You can search for reviews on sites like Google, Facebook, and the Better Business Bureau. Did the firm respond? Also, keep in mind that anyone can leave an online review – even if the firm never represented them.

You may be the type of person who wants someone else to handle all the legal “mumbo jumbo,” and that’s understandable. For you, the online research step may revolve more around lawyer ratings, success stories, and reviews. That’s perfectly fine as well.

3: Ask Trusted Friends and Family for a Referral

Referrals are a great way to find candidates to handle your workers’ compensation case. Family’s and friends’ experiences are often the determining factors in finding an attorney to take your workplace injury case.

Here are some things to consider:

  • What kind of case did they have, and if it was not workers’ compensation, does that attorney or firm handle workers’ compensation cases?
  • Was the attorney or firm responsive and communicative? Did they answer the phone or return calls?
  • Did they feel like they were in control of their case?
  • How long did it take to resolve their case, and were they pleased with the amount of time it required?
  • Did they go to trial, and if so, how was that experience? Was their attorney well-prepared?
  • Were they satisfied with the outcome of their case?

If your referral attorney does not practice workers’ compensation law (or does not focus solely on it, if that’s a requirement for you), don’t worry. Perhaps the firm has a dedicated workers’ compensation practice, or the lawyer can refer you to a colleague who can help you.

4: Assess Attorneys and Firms, and Make a Short List of Candidates

By now, you probably have some names of attorneys and firms you’re considering. It’s time to start narrowing it down. The best work injury lawyer is the one that is right for you.

It may help to rank the things you consider essential to weigh your options effectively. For example, your list from most to least important may look something like this:

  • Experience, certifications, and awards – How many years has this attorney been practicing workers’ compensation law? Do they have any certifications (for example, an attorney can be a North Carolina State Bar Board Certified Specialist in Workers’ Compensation Law)? Is the firm or attorney the recipient of peer recognition or awards (such as Best Lawyers or Super Lawyers, for example)?
  • Reviews – If you have not already done so, look for reviews online for the firm or attorney in question.
  • Results – Does the firm or attorney publish any information on case results? These results are likely scrubbed of specific client data due to privacy restrictions, but they may publish anonymized case results.
  • Firm resources – What tools and legal contacts does the firm have? For instance, does it use any proprietary tools or databases? Does the attorney or the firm have prior cases similar to yours? What non-attorney experience do they have? Are you getting a paralegal, a lawyer, or a team?
  • Communication – Do you have any information on the attorney’s or firm’s level of communication? How often will you get checkups and updates? What is their timeframe for answering the phone or returning calls?
  • Location or virtual consultation availability – As mentioned before, the process for how to find a good workers’ compensation lawyer for you may mean searching beyond your local area. You may decide that being able to consult in person is critical to you. Or, you may decide that having virtual consultation is perfectly fine, as long as you get what you want from the relationship. It’s your choice. Remember, this isn’t about finding top-rated workman’s comp lawyers. It is how to find the best workers’ compensation lawyer for you.

This list is by no means exhaustive because what’s most important to some may not be important at all to others. This list may very well be unique to you. Make a list of law firms you’re considering, and note any concerns you have or specific questions you’d like answered. That will be important in the next step.

5. Call and Meet With the Attorneys (and Ask Questions)

You’ve got your list. Now it’s time to get personal. Contact the firms or attorneys and get a feel for their process. With smaller firms, you may get a receptionist who will likely transfer you after a few questions. With larger firms, an intake representative may answer your call.

The objective is to get through the first call and set up an appointment. You can learn some things from this call. If you’re asked a lot of questions, it could well mean the firm itself is trying to determine which attorney suits your case best. They may also be looking for ways to add value to your case.

Answer the questions, and if you have any during the process, ask. If you’re not speaking to an attorney, hold those questions for now. That opportunity is coming.

The Attorney “Interview”

You may want to treat your consultation with an attorney like a job interview – you’re the boss because it’s your case. You may already have a list of questions you want to ask, but here are some that could help you:

  • What kind of experience do you or your firm have?
  • Do any of your workers’ compensation lawyers have any special certifications?
  • Have you or your firm taken workers’ compensation cases to court?
  • Do you have testimonials or clients I could speak to for reference?
  • How many cases are you handling?
  • Will I be working with you, your paralegal, or some combination of them, and how is communication handled?
  • What is the process for my case? What should I expect?
  • Are you or your firm familiar with the doctor/insurer in my case?
  • Based on my information, how long do you believe my case will take?
  • What does hiring you or your firm cost?
  • Why did you choose workers’ compensation law?

If it’s important to you, ask about it. Also, understand that attorneys don’t have to accept every case, so they may ask you questions in return.

6. Make Your Choice

Talking to multiple attorneys may take a little time, but you don’t want to wait too long to make a decision. After all, the clock is ticking, and you don’t want to delay your case. You may have a clear-cut choice at this point, or you may have some soul-searching yet to do.

Here are a few things to consider now that you have all the information.

  • Do you feel like one or more of the attorneys you’ve spoken to is a good match? If not, you may need to talk to more attorneys. On the other hand, you may need to reconsider your perspective. Can any attorney meet your criteria, or are you looking for a combination of qualifications that does not exist?
  • Which attorney did you feel most comfortable communicating with? Did you have a more natural rapport with one more than the others? How did each attorney engage with you and your questions? Remember that part of the service of a workers’ compensation attorney is that they take the stress off you.
  • Did they explain their fee structure in a way you understood? For example, different firms may have different structures – hourly billing versus contingency fee.
  • Were the “next steps” and case process explained clearly? Do you understand what’s likely to happen? Did the attorneys set expectations?

Once you’ve made a choice, you’ll sign a representation agreement, giving the attorney the authority to represent you in your case. From that point on, the attorney will make recommendations regarding everything from how you communicate with others regarding your case to your medical care.

Remember that you hire an attorney for their knowledge, experience, and advice. They’re supposed to represent your best interests. If you feel something is wrong, ask or tell them about it.

You Have the Tools, Now Find Your Attorney

Farrin workers' comp attorney Barry Jennings speaks with a client.

Based on everything we’ve described above, here are a few reasons why you should consider us.

Our Experience, Resources, and Commitment

Our workers’ compensation team has tremendous experience, including several attorneys who are NC State Bar Board Certified Specialists, attorneys who have worked on behalf of the insurance companies, and attorneys who once worked for the North Carolina Industrial Commission. Our firm has incredible staff and resources to help us pursue your case and many office locations for your convenience.

We hope that we’ve made your list and that we have an opportunity to serve as your workers’ compensation attorney and firm.

Contact us at 1-866-900-7078 for a free case evaluation and to see if we are the right workers’ compensation law firm for you.

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