Are you thinking about hiring a workers’ comp lawyer?
The average American brings home about $908 a week, which totals to be $47,216 as an annual income. If you were recently injured on the job, in a matter of days, the medical expenses can start to drain your bank account. After all, a trip to the hospital can easily cost $1,000 or more, even if you have health insurance!
As you try to navigate the rules and regulations surrounding workers’ compensation claims, you might be wondering if hiring a lawyer is worth your time or money. To help you decide if hiring a lawyer is right for your situation, we’ve created this short but complete guide. We’ll review what you can expect to pay a lawyer, as well as what you can expect your lawyer to do for you.
Read on to learn the truth about hiring a worker’s compensation attorney.
How Much Does a Workers’ Comp Lawyer Charge?
First, it’s helpful if you think of hiring a workers’ compensation lawyer as an investment. It’s an investment to help guarantee that you receive the maximum amount of benefits that you’re eligible for. The best part is that most workers’ compensation lawyer fees operate on a contingency basis.
A contingency fee means that instead of paying fees upfront, your lawyer receives a percentage of the benefits from your settlement amount. Depending on where you live, and the experience your lawyer has, 15-25% is a common percentage for contingency fees.
For instance, let’s say you win a settlement amount of $100,000. If you have a contingent fee agreement for 15%, your lawyer would get $15,000 from your settlement.
How much is a workers’ comp lawyer if your claim is denied? If your lawyer doesn’t win your case, then you may still have to pay certain costs such as filing fees or copy costs. However, the amount you’ll owe shouldn’t be a surprise since the law requires lawyers to be upfront about possible expenses, before taking on your case.
For instance, Florida law requires attorneys to disclose all fees, expenses, and costs you could wind up paying if they lose the case. When you’re meeting with a lawyer for a free consultation, ask them to outline all possible costs you could incur.
What Happens During a Free Consultation?
Next, let’s look at what you can expect to happen during a free consultation with a workers’ comp lawyer. During your consultation, the lawyer is going to help you identify the weaknesses and strengths of your compensation claim.
Here are some things you can bring to help make your consultation as helpful as possible:
- Summary of a workplace incident
- Dates of employment
- Pay stubs from last 6 months
- Name of supervisor you reported your injury to
- Your doctor’s contact information
- Treatment dates
- All medical records related to the workplace injury
- Correspondences from your employer regarding the claim
You should think of consultations as a 2-way interview. You’re getting a chance to assess the lawyer to see if they’re someone you want to work with. Whereas the lawyer is getting a chance to review your case to determine if it’s one they’re interested in.
Questions to Ask Your Lawyer
Moving on, bring a list of questions with you to the consultation to ask your workers’ comp lawyer. For starters find out what their experience is as well as their case history.
Next, ask them if they’ve ever represented a client with a claim that’s similar to yours. If yes, what was the outcome, did they win the case?
Moving on, find out what type of benefits the lawyer thinks you’ll be eligible for if they get your claim approved. Also, how long will it take to receive those benefits? The more you know about the funds you might be able to receive, the easier it’ll be to make financial decisions in the present.
Finally, if your injuries are the result of someone else’s reckless or negligent behavior, make sure you let your lawyer know about this. Since worker’s compensation is a type of no-fault insurance, it’s not likely that you’ll be able to sue your employer. However, if a 3rd party contributed to your injuries, your lawyer may be able to open up a lawsuit against them to help you receive additional compensation.
For instance, let’s say your employer hired a cleaning company. If one of the cleaning crew members failed to put up a wet floor sign in the bathroom, and you slip and fall, the cleaning company’s negligence is to blame for your injuries.
How to Know if You Need a Lawyer
Moving on, how can you know when it’s time to hire legal assistance?
Here’s a short list of situations where hiring a lawyer is a good idea:
- Your employer denies your claim
- You have a disability from your injuries
- You’re being harassed for filing the claim
- You receive additional government benefits
- You have to attend a workers’ comp hearing
If you think you need a lawyer, it’s best to hire one as quickly as possible after your injuries occur.
What Your Lawyer Will Do for You
If you decide to hire a workers’ comp attorney, they’ll be able to assist you with your claim in several ways. First, your lawyer will be able to help you file your claim in the most efficient way possible.
Next, workers’ compensation lawyers will help gather as much evidence as possible to help substantiate your claim. For instance, medical records and medical evidence, are both things workers compensation lawyers are skilled in obtaining.
Moving on, your attorney may also need to take depositions from you, medical experts, and your physician. Finally, the best lawyers will also make it their job to stay up to date on any new developments in workers’ compensation laws for your state.
Tips for Hiring a Good Lawyer
One of the best ways to find a quality workers’ comp lawyer is by getting referrals from friends and family members. Next, keep an eye out for lawyers that possess the following traits:
- Ability to think outside the box
- Strong writing skills
- Extensive knowledge of workers compensation law
- Active listening skills
- Great public speaking skills
- Passion and perseverance
Finally, take a moment to read a few online reviews. While a couple of bad reviews shouldn’t worry you, if you’re finding multiple bad reviews for the same issue, you’ll likely wind up having the same problem.
For instance, are multiple clients saying their lawyer was hard to get ahold of whenever they had questions? If yes, then keep searching until you find a law firm that cares about providing open communication.
What Does Workers Comp Cover?
If an attorney can get your claim approved, you’ll be eligible for a variety of benefits. For starters, workers’ compensation insurance helps pay for all the medical expenses related to your injuries.
Medical expenses include things like doctor visits, hospital stays, surgery costs, and more. The medical expense benefits can also extend to cover ongoing costs as you continue to recover.
Next, you’ll be able to receive funds for lost wages since your injuries kept you from being able to work. If your injuries result in a disability, a lawyer may also be able to get your disability coverages to help improve your quality of life.
Workers Compensation Mistakes to Avoid
Last but not least, another benefit to hiring a lawyer is that they’ll be able to help you avoid making any mistakes that could jeopardize your claim.
Here’s a few workers compensation mistake you’ll want to watch out for:
- Failing to report your accident
- Not giving doctors enough information
- Reporting your accident in an untimely manner
- Ignoring doctor’s orders
- Going back to work too soon
- Not returning to work when you’re healed
The good news is that the law is on your side when it comes to returning to work. It’s your employer’s job to help assist you with your transition back into the workforce. For instance, your employer can offer light duties, or alternate work, to help minimize the risk or a reinjury taking place.
If your employer refuses to offer you the assistance you need, notify your lawyer immediately. You should also notify an attorney if your employer tries to fire you simply for having an open worker’s compensation claim.
Feel Better Faster
Do you think you’ll be hiring a workers’ comp lawyer to help with your claim? Remember, if you set up a contingent fee arrangement, the lawyer only gets paid if you get paid as well. As long as you take the time to find an experienced, reputable lawyer, having a legal professional in your corner fighting for you is always a good idea.
Go ahead and set up a free consultation with a worker’s compensation lawyer today. You have nothing to lose, but everything to gain.
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