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 with an attorney who specializes 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, out of area law firms will route the “local” call to an office in another part of the state. You may not meet the attorney until the day you settle the case at 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 numerous clients who fired their previous attorney because they were never able to reach their attorney and were not even clear who or where they were. You are entitled to know your attorney and for your attorney to get to know you. 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 get to know all of the attorneys that practice in our area. It is a small community. We are putting are good 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 has a reputation of reaching quick settlements and much less than their potential value? Many of these firms make money by having a very large volume of cases and think of your case as one of many, not y working on them individually and doing the best they can for each individual client.
Find an attorney that is willing to meet you at the beginning of the case. While it is normal course for a paralegal to do the initial intake (first phone call), but you should ask if the first face to face meeting will be with the handling attorney. Of course 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, but be suspicious if the attorney comes up with excuses why they cannot meet with you. 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 always entitled to make a phone and/or office appointment with your attorney. We encourage you to do this periodically so that there can be open communication between you and your attorney on your case.
While we all know that some online Restaurant reviews are not reflective of the Restaurant, but many bad reviews tells you something. The same is true for attorney reviews. Do some research. Ask friends or colleagues for a referral and view online reviews for a consistent theme.
Before you hire an attorney, ask them if they continue to represent their client even if they chose a Stipulated Award, Compromise and Release With Open Medical Care or Findings and Award (Trial)? Your case may resolve, leaving you with the right to lifetime medical care. Is the attorney going to be there to help change doctors, fight to enforce the medical care award (fight denials), 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 even after settlement.