It’s important to have a competent workers comp lawyer on your side in cases of job-related injuries. An injury on the job is stressful — especially if you face intensive treatment and lost wages. Some injured workers are even faced with being unable to continue to work, at least in their current jobs. All of these experiences are draining. Yet facing the confusing and sometimes hostile world of workers’ compensation claims can be even more brutal. That’s why it’s important to have a workers comp lawyer in whom you have confidence. Here are a few things to look for when evaluating workers’ compensation attorneys.
What a Workers Comp Lawyer Should Know
In this article:
- Can the Lawyer Evaluate Your Case Knowledgeably?
- What Should Your Lawyer Ask About Your Case?
- Does the Lawyer Have Enough Experience in Workers’ Compensation?
- Does the Lawyer Handle All Stages of the Case?
- Can the Lawyer Refer You to Former Clients and Previous Results?
- Can the Attorney Explain How Worker’s Comp Cases Are Structured?
- How Should a Worker’s Compensation Lawyer Handle Your Case?
Can the Lawyer Evaluate Your Case Knowledgeably?
It’s important that your lawyer understands the California court systems inside and out. He or she must also know every aspect of workers’ compensation. This means the worker’s comp lawyer must be able to tell you in a timely manner if your case doesn’t meet the standards for seeking compensation benefits.
What Should Your Lawyer Ask About Your Case?
There are, unfortunately, a few factors that exempt some people from filing a workers’ compensation claim. A competent workers comp attorney will ask these questions:
- Was the company small enough to exempt them from carrying workers’ compensation through an insurance company? If size or another factor qualifies the business for an exemption, you won’t have a compensation benefits case. But, there may be another type of case you can still pursue. A knowledgeable lawyer will save you time and effort by knowing whether to pursue workers’ compensation or to consider an “uninsured employer” case.
- Can your injury clearly be attributed to your job? It’s true that you can have a workers’ compensation case if you get hurt while doing deliveries or running errands. An injured worker doesn’t have to have been physically in the workplace when the injury happened. Yet the place of employment needs to be clear. The connection can’t be that you slipped on a slippery campus sidewalk while taking a class your boss recommended, for example.
- Are you an actual employee of the business? That might seem like a no-brainer, but some people can suffer an injury while working as an independent contractor of a client or a company. If that’s the case, there might be another case worth pursuing, but it won’t be covered through a workers’ compensation insurance company.
- Is your injury significant enough to fall under workers comp? A good attorney will save you from filing a “frivolous” lawsuit.
Does the Lawyer Have Enough Experience in Workers’ Compensation?
The law surrounding workers comp in the greater Sacramento area, as well as throughout California, can be complex. You need to feel confident that your lawyer knows all the aspects of workers’ compensation law.
During your consultation, listen to the questions a potential workers comp lawyer asks you. Do the questions seem vague and general or specific and clear? An experienced workers comp lawyer will be very precise in his or her questions and press you for details.
You’ll get a sense of a worker’s compensation lawyer’s experience by how much time he or she spends asking you about your actual injury and treatment. These will be vital aspects of the case. A good workers comp lawyer will have a depth of knowledge about different types of injuries. They’ll also understand the various stages of treatment and the costs involved in each stage.
Since starting his Sacramento-based law firm in 1982, Edward A. Smith has handled personal injury and wrongful death cases exclusively. Because he and his team handle workers’ compensation cases so frequently, they can evaluate your situation honestly and thoroughly.
Does the Lawyer Handle All Stages of the Case?
Workers’ compensation cases often have many different components to them. It usually involves paperwork and research, followed by administrative hearings on various points. After that, there may be appeals based on the hearings. The compensation benefits case may go to trial if the hearings yield unsatisfactory results.
Ideally, the worker’s compensation lawyer with whom you’re consulting will have experience in all of these stages. If your case becomes complicated, you don’t want to have to hire a second lawyer.
Obviously, all concerned hope for a quick, simple outcome. But, your lawyer must be prepared for a workers’ compensation case to go in any direction.
During each stage, there can be challenges. Medical care that you need can be denied, or the disability benefits can be assessed at a lower rate than you’re entitled to. You can even be sent to an evaluator who isn’t in the best position to assess your personal disability claim. All of these can be bureaucratic mistakes. They can also be deliberate strategies designed to prevent you from getting what you’re entitled to.
A trained lawyer is in a better position to spot these problems than the average worker with an injury. It’s important that the attorney you’ll consider has a firm grasp on these potential minefields.
Ed Smith has a verified record of winning these types of cases. As a member of the State Bar of California, as well as the Sacramento County Bar Association, Ed has decades of experience sorting through all of the legal entanglements and injured worker can face while seeking compensation benefits. Ed also belongs to the Capital City Trial Lawyers Association, the American Trial Lawyers Association, and the Consumer Attorneys of California.
Can the Lawyer Refer You to Former Clients and Previous Results?
An experienced workers comp lawyer must be willing to give you the contact information of former clients with similar cases. This gives you confidence in the lawyer’s transparency and competency. You can also ask these references about specific elements of their cases that are like yours. In addition, the attorney you interview must be able to provide references from other attorneys and peers in the legal community.
Finally, a workers’ compensation attorney for whom you are entrusting your case must also be able to provide previous results in similar cases. This documentation will give you a sense of the law firm’s success rate with workers’ compensation settlements and verdicts.
Ed Smith makes it a point to refer potential clients to former clients, as well as with colleague reviews. As an attorney with a perfect rating on the legal review site Avvo, Ed also has stellar marks on social media platforms. In addition, the law firm’s website has a special section devoted entirely to settlements and verdicts. This representative sampling allows you to look for cases similar to yours. There you can evaluate the financial compensation benefits awards Ed and his team was able to secure for injured worker clients.
Can the Attorney Explain the How Worker’s Comp Cases Are Structured?
Because workers’ compensation is regulated by an insurance company, there are specific regulations for various stages of an injury. You’ll need to provide that information when you put together your claim. It’s important that your lawyer can help you assemble this information. The more documentation you can provide about the costs you’ve already paid and your anticipated costs, the greater your chance of a good settlement.
Typically, workers’ compensation cases have four stages. These four stages include: treating the injury, the healing phase, the post-healing phase, and the settlement assessment.
Injury treatment costs typically involve the cost of treating your injury immediately after it happens. This might include ER visits, ambulance charges, doctor appointments, and any mileage costs.
Healing and post-healing stages include additional medical care and the mileage needed to receive that care. It also includes amounts for temporary and permanent disability payments, when applicable.
The settlement phase of the claim can involve calculating an appropriate cash settlement and a supplemental job displacement voucher. The voucher funds the training or schooling you will need now that you can no longer work in your original field because of your injury.
How Should a Worker’s Compensation Lawyer Handle Your Case?
Again, it’s crucial that the worker’s comp lawyer you interview shows not only the understanding of each of these four stages but a willingness to fight for each and every claim you’re entitled to within those four stages. The lawyer must show compassion for what you’ve endured and understand the challenges that lay ahead of you. At Ed Smith’s office, current and potential clients are encouraged to drop by and discuss their case. Former clients are also checked in on because Ed’s team also values those relationships.
What factors affect an injury claim? Let Ed Smith show you in the video below.
Setting aside the time to interview more than one worker’s comp lawyer might seem like too much trouble to go through. But when it comes to the hassle you can save down the road — as well as the additional compensation a knowledgeable attorney can secure for you — that initial investment in time and effort becomes well worth it. Contact Ed Smith to learn more about how his expertise in workers’ compensation claims can benefit your case.
What do you need to build a strong case? Give Ed Smith a call to see what he can do for you.
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