Part Two – Choosing A Workers Compensation Attorney
PART TWO – CHOOSING A WORKERS COMPENSATION ATTORNEY
As discussed in the last article, Part 1, if you have a workers compensation case in Oklahoma City, you’ll start by selecting a workers compensation attorney to consult with. So what’s next? Here is some guidance.
Treat your complimentary initial consultation as your lawyer’s job interview. Nearly all workers’ comp attorneys offer free initial consultations with prospective clients. Be prepared to share factual answers in response to questions from the attorney and bring questions of your own. It is important for you to remember, this is like a job interview for the attorney, and you are the prospective employer.
Gather all of the following key facts and be prepared to share them with prospective attorneys
- Your employer’s exact name, contact information, and address.
- Your hire date, title, and compensation.
- Date of your injury and how it occurred along with any events leading to your accident.
- The location where your injury happened, such as at a certain workstation, machine or building on your employer’s premises.
- The name of the manager/supervisor who you notified when your injury took place.
- A detailed description of your injury including the appropriate medical records.
- Statements from witnesses.
- A list of medical providers you’ve seen for your injury, in chronological order. Include all contact info, such as names, addresses, phone numbers, dates and types of treatment, tests performed and results and information on upcoming medical treatment. All of these details are critical for a comprehensive review of your case by any lawyer who may handle your case.
- Information on your employer’s workers’ comp insurance carrier. Including contact numbers and names and the identifying case or claim number assigned to your file. In addition, bring any correspondence from the insurer to your first meeting.
- If available, know the date you may return to work as directed by your doctor(s).
- Summarize any information about any past injuries you have sustained, work-related or not.
- Your salary history from date of hire to the time of your accident.
- Performance reviews or evaluations.
- Your employee handbook.
- All correspondence related to your claim.
- Finally, get a calendar and record event dates related to your case; Date of injury, dates of medical care, and receipt of insurance letters/documents/forms/notices/etc.
Prepare yourself to be comfortable asking prospective attorneys all of the following questions which will help you evaluate the level of expertise he/she may have with workers’ compensation.
- How many years have you been handling workers’ compensation claims?
- How much of your practice is devoted to workers’ comp?
- Will/can you represent me throughout the entire workers’ comp process, including at administrative hearings, appeals and in circuit court?
- Can you provide me with any references, whether former clients or colleagues in the legal community?
- Will you be working on my case personally or will legal assistants and paralegals handle the case?
- If I call your office with a question about my case, will I be able to speak to you?
- Do you also represent employers and insurance companies in workers’ comp cases, or only injured workers?
- Are you a member of any professional organizations in the field of workers’ compensation law? Are you board-certified in workers’ comp?
- Can you explain to me how a workers’ compensation claim proceeds through the system? How do your attorney fees work?
- Will I be charged for litigation-related expenses, and if so, what do those expenses include? Will I be charged even if my case is unsuccessful?
- Do you arrange for clients to receive consultative medical examinations with appropriate specialists? Under what circumstances?
- How do you estimate the value of my case? What are the strengths and weaknesses of my case?
- Have you handled cases similar to mine? How many?
- If not, can you give an overview of how you would approach my case?
- What are the options in my case? Are any non-legal solutions available?
- Do you expect or see any problems with my case?
- What’s the estimated or realistic timeline for resolving my case? How often may I get status updates on my case?
- Can I meet the lawyers and staff members who may be working on my case with you?
Step 4. Look for an attorney who inspires confidence and treats you with respect.
The initial consultation is a great time to evaluate the attorney’s professionalism and demeanor when dealing with clients. A quality attorney will answer all your questions patiently and authoritatively and will address your concerns. If you have to meet with three attorneys before finding one who inspires complete confidence, that’s a relatively small price to pay. Also take note of the attitudes and behavior of the secretaries, legal assistants, and paralegals in the office, as you’ll likely be interacting with them on a regular basis. If they treat you rudely or dismissively or don’t return your calls promptly, feel free to take your business elsewhere. As your case progresses, your attorney should provide you with periodic updates on the status of your claim. If you rarely hear from your attorney, find a lawyer who will give you and your case the attention it deserves. At Burton Law, we are the Oklahoma City workers compensation specialists, and we always welcome your questions!