How Do you Choose the Right Workers' Compensation LawyerThere are certain questions that you should ask workers' compensation attorneys during consultations that will lead you to the right lawyer for your work injury or illness case. This involves some time and effort on your part, but that should not matter because the decision of which attorney to hire is important.
The law is becoming more and more complex every day. It is virtually impossible for a lawyer to be fully competent in all areas of the law. The field of North Carolina workers’ compensation law is especially complex. In our opinion, these cases should not be handled by a lawyer who does not concentrate his or her practice in the field of workers’ compensation law.
Too many cases have been lost by lawyer mistakes made by lawyers who try to spread themselves too thin and practice in many different areas of the law. Too many cases are settled too cheaply and are virtually “given away” by lawyers who handle a lot of workers’ compensation cases, but who will not or cannot go to hearing when the insurance company does not offer an adequate settlement.
Insurance companies are very much aware of which workers’ compensation lawyers will take them to hearing and which ones will not. One of the first things insurance companies want to know when they evaluate the case is who is representing the injured party. If this information is important to the insurance company, shouldn’t it also be important to you when deciding which lawyer to hire?
If you hire a lawyer who has never tried a substantial case or who runs a settlement mill, you may not be well served. I believe it is so important that you hire the right lawyer to handle your case that I will send you the name and telephone numbers of lawyers in my area who I know to be good workers' compensation attorneys and who you should call if you do not become my client. Just contact me (910) 892-8177 nd I will send you the list.
Why would I give you the names of my competition? The reason is that we are all on the same side in fighting the insurance industry. These lawyers are people for whom I have a great deal of respect. It is my desire that all victims of work-related injuries have their cases handled properly by the right lawyers and that they not end up in hands of a part-time workers’ compensation lawyer or a settlement mill where the case may be “given away” for far less than it is worth.
We offer the following suggestions for finding a good workers’ compensation lawyer in your area. They are as follows:
- Get a referral from a lawyer you know. He or she will probably know a specialist in the area of law that you are interested in.
- The Yellow Pages may be a good source of names. However, you should understand that not everyone advertises in the Yellow Pages. Most of our cases come from referrals from our satisfied clients or from people who have heard about us in the community. When examining Yellow Page ads, look for ads that claim an expertise in too many areas of law. No one can do everything well. You should always be careful of the full-page ads, especially the double-page ads. These ads tend to generate a lot of cases for the law firms who pay for these ads. Be sure the law firm you choose does not have too many cases to effectively handle and that your case does not get buried under a pile of others. You deserve to have your work injury case given top priority and for it to be handled as expeditiously as possible.
- The North Carolina Bar Association has a lawyer referral service, which we recommend. Understand, however, that lawyers on this list of referrals have paid a fee to be listed in this service. Their names come up on a rotating basis. It is, however, a good source for an initial appointment. Use the questions that we give you in our free workers' compensation book for the interview.
- Interview several attorneys in your area. Ask each one who their competition is. If an attorney will not give you an answer to this question, that could be a warning signal. The names that keep being referred to by these various attorneys are probably a good indication of which attorneys in your area handle your kind of case on a regular basis. This may be the best way to find a lawyer who is right for you. Ask each lawyer if they have information like we have provided in our workers' compensation book or if they have a site with similar information so that you can find out more about legal qualifications like board-certifications, experience and the way they handle your case.
- Be cautious if a lawyer tries to pressure you into signing a contingency fee contract. A lawyer should be willing to represent you on an hourly fee basis if you choose. You should take the written contingency fee contract home, read it, understand it and discuss it with your family.
- If you are contacted by a “runner” who hangs out in hospital emergency rooms, police stations or other places where tragedies occur, run the other way. The practice of making uninvited in-person solicitations by lawyers or agents of lawyers, including “runners” is strictly prohibited. This type of conduct will get an attorney disbarred, and rightly so. Even though this conduct is illegal and strictly prohibited, we keep hearing rumors that this practice exists. If you are approached by one of these uninvited “runners,” please call the North Caroline State Bar at 919-828-4620 and report that conduct.
- Be cautious if a lawyer tries to direct you to certain doctors for your treatment. The decision of which doctor should treat you for your injuries is yours to make. If the employer accepts responsibility for your injury, the law gives the employer the right to choose your medical providers. It could severely hurt your case if it is revealed that you went to a certain doctor because your lawyer told you to. One of the functions of a good workers’ compensation lawyer is to know the qualifications of the best doctors who practice in his or her area in certain specialized fields of medicine such as orthopedics, neurology, rheumatology, etc. It is sometimes helpful for your case for you to be examined for the purpose of assessing your injuries by one of these specialists. However, any time a lawyer refers you to a doctor, it could be a very delicate situation, which, if handled inappropriately, could backfire and damage your case.