Prepare a List of Questions to Ask Your Workers’ Comp Lawyer
Initial consultations are also an opportunity for you to evaluate whether you want to hire a lawyer. You’ll want to get a feel for whether attorneys you’re meeting have the time and experience to handle your case, and whether they’re the best fit for you. To help you focus your assessment, prepare a list of questions that you would like to ask, including:
- How much of your practice is devoted to workers’ comp cases, and how much experience do you have? You are looking for a specialist in workers’ comp, so the lawyer should devote a significant portion of the practice to representing injured workers (rather than insurance companies). More experience is better, but a lawyer with at least 10 years or more of work injury lawyer experience should generally be well-equipped to handle your case.
- Do you have any certifications? The California State Bar regulates and oversees the program for lawyers to get certifications in workers’ compensation law by meeting certain requirements. A certification usually means that the attorney has advanced knowledge, significant experience in workers compensation and taking an additional bar examination in the field of Worker’s Compensation and gone through a certification process with the State Bar to be able to use the title “Certified Specialist in Workers Compensation Law.”
- Will you be handling my case personally? Who will be doing the bulk of the work? It’s common for lawyers to delegate appropriate tasks to associate attorneys, paralegals, or even legal assistants within the firm. But your lawyer should be overseeing everything in your case, doing the high-level legal work, and keeping you informed on a regular basis when new developments arise or communicating offers of settlement.
- What are the strengths and weaknesses of my case? No attorney can guarantee that you’ll receive a certain amount of benefits, so you should be concerned if a lawyer makes big promises about outcomes. An experienced workers’ comp lawyer should be able to give you a general assessment of your case. You want a confident but realistic lawyer who can help you with the plan to deal with your work injury circumstances and help you understand the potential outcomes at the end of the case.
- How often will you or someone from your office communicate with me? Your attorney should keep you informed about any developments or settlement offers in your case. Work injury lawyers are often busy and depositions, court appearances and client meetings, so don’t expect daily or periodic updates unless there is news to convey to you. But you should expect that your lawyer will respond to your calls and emails within a reasonable amount of time. Ask if someone from the office, like a paralegal or assistant, will give you updates and answer basic questions about the status of your case. Our response time is generally 24 hours.
- What are your fees? Workers’ comp attorneys usually work on a contingency fee basis, which means that they take a certain percentage of your settlement or award. Worker’s Compensation lawyers cannot accept money directly from you. Nearly all states set a maximum cap on the percentage (usually 15%), and most states require a judge to approve the fee.
- How will you handle costs? There are other costs involved in pursuing workers’ comp cases, including record requests and witness fees. Ask if the lawyer will advance these expenses and deduct them from your settlement or award and whether you will have to reimburse the lawyer if you lose your case.
- Do you have any references that I could talk to? If you’re still on the fence about the lawyer, ask if there are any former clients or colleagues you could talk to about their experiences.
- Research online Google reviews. The best references are online client reviews. If lawyer has no bad reviews, then the reviews are probably fake or professionally written. Not all legal cases have happy endings and not all former clients are happy. Read the bad reviews and especially the business responses to those bad reviews as well as they provide a lot of insight. Watch out for review histories that are very recent. Our review history goes back 10 years and it took that long to accumulate over 130 reviews, good and bad. If you see a law office or lawyer that piled in 30 reviews in 30 days, most likely those fake reviews are professionally written. Many listings on Google maps and business searches for work injury lawyers have five-star reviews but no real address, no real lawyer name, no website just a phone number. That should be a red flag for you, do your research wisely and look a little deeper.
Make sure you take notes during your meeting and notice whether the lawyer listens well and explains things in a way that’s both understandable and thorough. Make sure the lawyer takes into account your goals and plans as your work injury may affect many aspects of your life.