Do I Need An Attorney, Should He/She Be Local, And How Do I Pick One?

Not everyone who gets injured at work needs an attorney. However, it is free to consult with a workers’ compensation attorney about your case. We recommend that you consult with a workers’ compensation attorney as soon as possible to educate yourself about the system, strategize and protect your rights in this system that continues to get more complicated. There is no way to know for sure whether you need an attorney, without talking to an attorney specializing in workers’ compensation cases.

Finding an attorney that specializes in Workers’ Compensation law is important. We have been certified by the State Bar of California as experts in the field. No two areas of law are the same, which is why we will always refer you to other firms that specialize in areas outside of workers’ compensation law, if you need advise.

Having a local attorney is important for a few reasons. While some firms will have a local number, you will be routed to an office in another part of the state. You may not meet the attorney until the day you settle the case a hearing or maybe not even then. There are times when the person having you fill out paper work to begin representation does not even work for the law firm.  We have clients who were never able to reach their attorney and were not even clear who or where they were.  You are entitled to know your attorney. It is important to build a relationship. to feel you are being heard by the attorney handling your case. How do you meet with them if they are 10 hours away by car.  What do you do if they refuse to answer calls and emails.

In addition, Judges and Defense Attorney’s locally get to know all of the attorneys that practice in that area. It is a small community.  We are putting are reputations on the line each time we go before the Judge on your behalf.  Do you want someone who has a reputation for being aggressive and forthright in front of the Judge and Defense, arguing on your behalf, or someone the Judge or Defense has never met or knows to be from out of the area and is quick to settle cases before the case is ready to settle.

Find an attorney that is willing to meet you at the beginning of a case. While it is normal course for a paralegal to do the initial intake, and there are times the attorney is not able to meet face to face because you are out of the area or unable to make it to their office, be suspicious if the attorney comes up with excuses to never meet. As you know, much of communications these days are email driven, and that is often a good way to get answers in a case. But, you are entitled to make a phone and/or office appointment with your attorney.  We encourage this periodically so that there can be open communication on a case.

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Does the attorney continue to represent their client even if they chose a Stipulated Award? While the case may settle, you can chose to keep your right to lifetime care (subject to denials).  Is the attorney going to be there to help change doctors, fight to enforce the medical care award, fight for unpaid out of pocket expenses and mileage reimbursement, reopen the case if your disability/injury becomes worse within 5 years from the date of injury, advise on other benefits or make referrals.  We feel a responsibility to our client even after settlement. Not all firms, and especially out of the area firms, will keep this relationship.

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