Finding a workers’ compensation attorney is a difficult task. Finding a qualified and experienced attorney is an even more difficult task.
After sustaining a broken wrist on the job, I learned that workers’ compensation is a specialty and that I was embarking on a search for a specialist In his field.
This realization wasn’t exactly earth-shattering on my part, but it did provide a focus and an argument for symmetry. If I found myself with a broken pipe at home, I wouldn’t hire a general contractor. I would hire a licensed plumber. If my business needed a logo redesign, I wouldn’t hire a freelancer; I would hire a graphic artist.
So after a doctor didn’t exactly fill me with confidence about my treatment plan, and I was waiting for my employer to review my claim anyway, I figured it would be best for me to not only hire an attorney, but one that could . find. In fact, it was a difficult task.
An imperfect but ultimately successful search
My search for a workers’ compensation attorney was not without its wrinkles, but I learned to work around them until I found the right one for me:
What I did: I started with the Florida chapter of the American Bar Association.
What I learned: This seemed like a logical start, until I saw that there is also an Orange County Bar Association because Orlando is located in Orange County.
What I did: In trying to narrow down my search for workers’ compensation, I ended up on Lawyers.com with, effectively, a page for workers’ compensation attorneys.
What I learned: With more than 50 names to sort through, a question struck me: Do I want a lawyer who is a member of a large firm or someone from a smaller firm?
What I did: Obviously, there are advantages and disadvantages to either option. In the end, it’s probably a matter of preference. I leaned heavily towards finding someone at a small company because I assumed I would get a level of personality that I find attractive. But I thought I’d do what many people do at the beginning of their search for a workers’ compensation attorney: ask friends, family, and co-workers for recommendations.
What I learned: Help your cause if your friends, family or co-workers have filed a workers’ compensation claim. None of mine had, so I felt like I was starting over. For me, this was the low point of the process.
What I did: I got together and decided to “go local” by doing an internet search on my own.
What I learned: I reminded myself that finding a workers’ compensation attorney can be a recursive process, like all research projects, so I decided that the time I was spending would finally be worth it.
What I did: I spent hours reading the websites of various attorneys who practiced workers’ compensation law. This was not as slow as it seems. First impressions really speak volumes. I kept coming back to my favorite website, one that was informative, well written, and professional. He stood out, head and shoulders, from everyone else.
What I learned: Trusting my own judgment was paramount. I wanted someone who conveyed skill and personality.
What I did: I dug a little deeper, probing the experience factor I was looking for the most at first. I really wanted a specialist, and a successful one.
What I learned: When I saw that this particular attorney cited the outcome of his workers’ compensation cases, I was virtually sold. I did not see this information on any other website.
What I did: I called the attorney to set up a meeting, treating this “initial consultation like the attorney’s job interview.”
What I learned: I liked this approach, both professional and friendly. I took notes while asking some recommended questions:
- How many years have you been handling workers’ compensation claims?
- How much of your practice is devoted to workers’ compensation?
- Can you represent me throughout the workers’ compensation process, including administrative hearings and appeals?
- Can you provide me with references?
- Will you work on my case personally or will paralegals and paralegals do most of the work?
- When I call your office with a question about my case, will I speak with you or a paralegal?
- Can you explain to me how a workers’ compensation claim proceeds through the system? How do attorney fees work?
- Will I be charged for expenses related to litigation and, if so, what do these expenses include? Will I be charged even if my case is unsuccessful?
In all honesty, I didn’t even finish my list of questions before I decided I had found the right attorney to represent me. His demeanor, very intelligent but affable, professional but down to earth, won me over in a matter of minutes.
Yes, finding a workers’ compensation attorney is a difficult task. But when you take the time to let the process evolve, you can complete that order too.