Everyone expects that if they suffer an injury at work, their employer will make sure their medical bills and rehabilitation are paid. They expect understanding and time to recuperate. This is not always the case.
When you suffer a work-related injury, there are specific benefits you may receive. This includes medical costs, loss of income, rehabilitation, and more. If you are not receiving the benefits you deserve, your first call needs to be to the best workers’ comp lawyer in your area.
You may be wondering, how do if find a workers’ comp lawyer near me? How do I know they are the best? Keep reading to learn everything you need to select a lawyer who will get you the workers’ compensation benefits you deserve.
1. Select an Experienced Workers’ Compensation Lawyer
Attorneys typically work in specific areas of law. A workers’ comp lawyer will have experience and legal knowledge in both personal injury law and workers’ compensation law. This is necessary for them to properly evaluate injuries and your doctor’s long-term prognosis when negotiating your settlement.
The Louisiana Workers’ Compensation Law, RS 23:1010.1 requires:
- Timely payment of both temporary and permanent benefits for injuries or disease resulting from employment
- Payment of medical expenses for injured workers
- The ability of workers to return to the workforce following recovery
The law states that when disputes arise cases must be decided on their merits. This means a final determination must be found relative to the application of law to the evidence and facts particular to each individual case.
When you are an employee of a private company, your state, or local government, your work injury falls under the control of your state workers’ compensation board. The exception is federal employees, who fall under the control of the Federal Employees’ Compensation Program.
Look at the attorney’s website prior to scheduling a consultation to make sure they practice worker’s compensation law. If you have any concerns about whether your employer falls under the area of state vs federal workers’ compensation law, your attorney will be able to make this determination.
2. Ask Questions
At your initial meeting with the attorney, ask them about the workers’ compensation process and what their legal opinion is on your case. While no attorney can guarantee an outcome on any legal matter, experience will allow them to make a good estimate on your case.
Other questions to ask are whether they are the attorney you will be working with. Some firms have intake lawyers who handle the initial consultation but do not handle the case later. Make sure you meet with the attorney you will be working with prior to signing a contract.
A common question when suffering a personal injury being paid by workers’ compensation is whether you can use your own doctor. In Louisiana, you are able to select your own doctor or treatment following a workers’ comp injury. You must get permission from your employer and their insurance provider to continue using your personal physician if costs exceed $750.
In the event of a medical emergency, pre-approval is not required. If you receive care from your private medical provider, your employer’s insurance company may require you to obtain an independent medical examination (IME) from a doctor they select. If You refuse to go for this medical evaluation your benefits may be suspended.
3. Check Testimonials
One place to begin looking at testimonials is an attorney’s website. You may also google their name and will likely find reviews on outside websites such as Google, Facebook, Yahoo, or Avvo.
Testimonials provide you with insight into the attorney’s success, how easy they are to work with, and their legal expertise. You want to hire a professional with expertise in your legal case area.
You also need an attorney whose personality is compatible with yours. While you don’t need to become best friends, you do need to have mutual respect and similar outcome goals as you will likely be working together for several months.
4. Ask About Support Staff
When you have a workers’ compensation case, you will likely be providing medical updates, replacement services forms, and more to your attorney. While your attorney will be available to consult with, their work requires them to spend a considerable amount of time in court, conducting depositions, and reading case documents.
Your best line of contact may be their support staff. This includes paralegals, case managers, legal assistants, and more. When you have your initial consultation with the attorney ask about staff members you can use as your first point of contact.
Non-attorney staff members are unable to answer legal questions due to the unauthorized practice of law. They can answer procedural questions, provide updates on your case, accept medical records, and more.
If your question crosses into the area of legal advice, the paralegal or legal assistant may serve as a middle-man, asking the attorney your question and relaying their answer to you. This is an excellent way to speed up getting information so you can concentrate on recovery and not worry about legal matters.
5. Ask About Attorney Fees
Your attorney will explain how attorney fees on workers’ compensation cases are paid. You will sign a workers’ compensation contingency fee agreement.
What this means is you do not pay any upfront attorney fees. If the attorney wins your case, they will receive payment out of your settlement proceeds. This is a percentage of your winnings, and under Louisiana law can be no more than 20% of your settlement.
Prior to being paid the workers’ compensation judge must approve their fees. If the judge does not believe the amount of attorney fees is appropriate, they may lower their compensation.
In addition to attorney fees, you may be obligated to pay other legal costs. This includes expert witness fees, filing of court documents, and payment to obtain medical records. Your attorney will spell out your obligations in the fee agreement you sign.
Hire the Best Workers’ Comp Lawyer
Now that you know the questions to ask and what professional benefits to look for, hiring the best workers’ comp lawyer is as easy as calling Babcock Partners, LLC. We have offices in Baton Rouge and Ruston and offer free consultations.
Call (225) 425-3700 to set up your appointment today. We will even meet with you on the weekend if that works best for your schedule.