We Explain How to Find the Right Workers Compensation Attorney for Your Case in Virginia
If you watch television, listen to the radio, or search online, then you know there are many attorneys out there asking for your business. With so much information – and disinformation – out there it can be difficult to find the right workers compensation attorney for your case.
Whatever you do, don’t hire an attorney based on their advertising. It doesn’t take much to put together a tv commercial or radio spot. And the quality or quantity of the advertisement doesn’t mean that lawyer is the right fit for you.
So how can you find the right workers compensation attorney in your city or state who will obtain the best possible resolution in your case? By asking specific questions when you interview potential lawyers.
Workers compensation is a complex field. Attorneys who just dabble in it – such as general practitioners, personal injury attorneys, family lawyers, criminal defense lawyers, and bankruptcy attorneys – do not have the expertise and specialized knowledge necessary to provide the legal representation you need. Handling five, ten, or even just fifteen workers compensation claims each year does not give an attorney enough experience to navigate workers compensation and related matters, such as Social Security Disability, Long-Term Disability, and Virginia Retirement System Disability claims.
Why hire an attorney whose practice does not focus on workers’ compensation? The insurance company, with its teams of adjusters, nurse case managers, and defense attorneys, have tons of data and information. They know which attorneys are experts in workers’ compensation and which aren’t. If they know you’ve hired a qualified and experienced workers compensation attorney, then they know you’ll have effective representation at your workers comp hearing and will not stop until you’re offered an award agreement or top-dollar workers compensation settlement.
As a former insurance defense attorney, I know that one of the first questions that some insurance adjusters ask is, “Who is representing the injured worker?” There is a reason they ask this. They want to know whether they’re in a for a battle or whether they’re dealing with an inexperienced attorney who is outmatched by their defense team. You want them to know you’re ready to fight for every workers compensation benefit you’re owed.
Finding a Qualified Attorney Who Handles Workers Compensation Cases Near You
You have to find qualified attorneys to interview before choosing the right workers compensation attorney for you. Here are some tips on how to find a qualified lawyer near you:
- Search the Internet. Whether you’re looking for movie times, a good restaurant, or an attorney, most of us begin our search on the internet. Check out an attorney’s website and the information available. Is the website simply for advertising purposes or does it offer real information that people can use to get the medical treatment, wage loss benefits, and permanent disability benefits they’re owed? Is the attorney a good writer? Has he or she received any reviews? You probably want to choose the attorney whose website answers important questions about the work injury process and provides articles on important issues that arise during claims.
- Get a Referral from Another Attorney. Many of our clients have never been through the workers’ compensation process before, but they have needed an attorney to help them with other legal matters. Even though your former attorney may not handle workers’ compensation, he or she has likely heard of the best attorneys in your area for work injuries and can point you in the right direction. We often provide referrals to other attorneys for injured workers who need help with traffic law or family law matters.
- Super Lawyers or Other Peer-Rated Review Sites. Some organizations ask attorneys to rate or identify other attorneys who are known for high-quality work in their respective practice areas. Check out the criteria for making it on a list. If the criteria includes reviews from other attorneys, then it may be a good source to find a qualified attorney.
There are other ways to find a list of potential attorneys – the Yellow Pages, online directories, and local bar associations. But there is no barrier to join these lists, so they’re not always the best source for finding a qualified workers compensation attorney.
What Questions Should I Ask an Attorney Before Hiring Him or Her for My Virginia Workers Compensation Case
There are several questions you may want to ask an attorney before hiring him or her to represent you in your work injury claim. Below are some questions that you need to ask before deciding whether you’ve found the right workers compensation attorney:
- How many workers’ compensation cases have you handled and over what time period? You want someone who has handled many cases and who does so on a consistent basis. An attorney who has handled hundreds of workers comp claims, but only a few in the past five years, may be out of touch with the current case law and may not have experience dealing with the defense attorney or insurance adjuster handling your case.
- Do you have a written guide that explains the workers’ compensation process in Virginia? If you hire a qualified and experienced attorney, then he or she may spend a lot of time in court, negotiating at settlement mediations, or deposing witnesses. You may have to wait up to 24 hours to get a call back. We understand that sometimes you don’t want to have to wait for an answer to your question. That’s why we’ve created a written guide that explains the steps involved in a Virginia workers’ compensation claim and published numerous articles on our website -to help you get accurate and up-to-date information as soon as possible.
- Do you work on a contingency basis? The days, weeks, and months after a work accident can be filled with uncertainty and stress. You don’t know if you’ll ever recover and be able to return to work. And you don’t know how you’ll pay for food, shelter, and your medical bills. We understand that, which is why we work on a contingency basis. We don’t get paid unless you get benefits. We recommend that you avoid a workers compensation attorney who wants to charge you by the hour. Read our article on workers compensation attorney fees for more information.
- Have you represented insurance companies in the past? This can be a good thing. A workers compensation attorney who has represented insurance companies in the past may have a better idea of insurance defense tactics and how your employer’s particular insurance company and claims adjuster value cases. This can be helpful at hearing and in negotiating a resolution.
- What’s your philosophy on settlement? Most workers comp cases do – and should – settle. And though you do want an attorney with a track record of success in negotiating full and final settlements and navigating the Workers Compensation Medicare Set-Aside Arrangement (MSA) process, you don’t want an attorney who pushes settlement from the beginning. It’s important that you reach maximum medical improvement (MMI) before settling your case so that you have a better idea of your permanent restrictions and future medical expenses related to your work injuries.
- Who does most of the work on my case? Will the attorney you speak with handle your case, including the deposition, hearing, and all motions and briefs. Or will an associate attorney handle your work injury case. You should want the senior attorney to handle your case.
What Qualities Will the Right Workers Compensation Attorney Have?
Great workers compensation trial attorneys come in all different personalities, ages, and styles. But most have the following three characteristics:
- Experience and command of all Virginia workers compensation laws and situations, including the initial claim for benefits, change in condition applications, vocational rehabilitation, employer applications for hearings, evidentiary hearings, and settlements.
- Experience actually trying cases before the Workers’ Compensation Commission and the Court of Appeals of Virginia.
- Respect of former clients and other attorneys.
For more information you can also read our list of things that a good workers compensation attorney will do for you.
So take your time after your work injury, do your homework, and choose the right workers compensation attorney for you and your family. Get an expert and specialist in workers compensation not a generalist.
If you have any questions or concerns, contact Corey Pollard today. We represent injured workers across Virginia – from Roanoke to Norfolk and back up to Fairfax. No matter your type of work accident, we can help.