Questions To Ask a Workers’ Comp Attorney Before Hiring Them
March 1, 2023 | Workers’ Compensation
The Harrisburg workers’ compensation system is administered by the Pennsylvania Department of Labor. Although not all workers’ compensation claims require a lawyer, most injured workers could benefit from the assistance of an attorney. Just any lawyer won’t do, however, and it is up to you to screen out unqualified candidates. Below are some questions you can ask.
How much experience do you have handling Pennsylvania workers’ compensation cases?
Personal injury lawyers sometimes handle workers’ compensation cases as well. This is fine, as long as you keep in mind that workers’ compensation cases differ from personal injury cases. The lawyer should enjoy years of experience handling a variety of workers’ compensation cases. The more experience your lawyer has in Pennsylvania, the better.
Have you handled cases like mine before?
Not all workers’ compensation cases are the same. There are big differences, for example, between a temporary partial disability claim and a permanent total disability claim. Yet both of these claims differ from a workplace death claim seeking survivor’s benefits.
What is your fee structure?
Pennsylvania workers’ compensation lawyers charge on a contingency fee basis. That means you pay nothing upfront. Your ultimate legal fee amounts to a specified percentage of the amount you win in court or through settlement. Notably, Pennsylvania law limits a lawyer’s contingency fee to 20% in workers’ compensation cases.
Will you handle my case, or will you pass it off to a subordinate?
Some large law firms will pass off workers’ compensation cases to “the junior guy,” who will gain experience while reporting periodically to the lawyer you met in your initial consultation. If this is what is going on, you need to know about it. Moreover, you should object to this arrangement if your claim is large.
What are the strengths and weaknesses of my case?
Be skeptical if your lawyer does nothing but “blow sunshine at you.” A good lawyer will tell you the bad right along with the good. Don’t kill the messenger—a good lawyer won’t whitewash your claim. It is likely that the facts of your claim raise some real concerns. On the other hand, the lawyer probably won’t take your case if there are too many negatives.
How do you plan on proving my case?
Try to get a feel for your lawyer’s strategy. You might not understand the workers’ compensation law enough to comprehend it perfectly. Nevertheless, a lawyer with decent communications skills should be able to give you a basic idea of how they plan to approach your case. If you are lucky, they might have identified a third party (other than your employer) against whom they can seek non-economic damages.
How long do you expect to take to resolve my case?
Most workers’ compensation cases take a few weeks to a few months to resolve. However, timing is important in a workers’ compensation claim where you seek damages for lost income. It is especially important if you are the breadwinner for your family. After becoming familiar with your case, your lawyer should be able to give you a ballpark estimate.
How will you communicate with me about my case?
Some lawyers virtually ignore their clients. This approach could cause you a lot of unnecessary stress and reduce your chances of victory. You and your lawyer need to work together to resolve your claim, and that means regular communication. Get a commitment from the lawyer that if you hire them, they will keep you periodically informed of the progress of your case.
What is the likely outcome of my case?
This is something of a trick question. If the lawyer tries to offer you an absolute guarantee of results, don’t hire them. On the other hand, any lawyer who agrees to take your case should feel optimistic about your chances of victory. Ask them what they think will happen and what factors could influence the result.
A Good Harrisburg Workers’ Comp Lawyer Can Help You Maximize the Value of Your Claim
It’s not just whether you win or lose; it’s how much you win. An experienced Harrisburg workers’ compensation lawyer might see opportunities that you would miss– like the possibility of a personal injury lawsuit against a third party. If your claim is sizable, take advantage of the fact that most workers’ compensation lawyers won’t charge you for an initial consultation.
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