How to tell if a work injury attorney is crooked, dishonest or inexperienced
There’s a lot at stake when filing your workers’ compensation claim. For starters, your claim can affect your Social Security, Medicaid, Medicare, or other disability benefits — not to mention how much compensation you receive for medical treatment and lost wages. For most families, these decisions can be the difference between paying the bills and being forced to go into debt. As such, it’s important to know what qualities separate the best workers’ comp attorneys from the bad ones.
Here are some signs to look for when seeking legal representation that may indicate you’re talking to the wrong workers’ comp lawyer.
#1. Your case is mostly being handled by a paralegal
Having a paralegal perform administrative tasks such as gathering and organizing documentation is normal. But allowing a paralegal to handle the brunt of your case is NOT. Crooked workers’ comp lawyers often shove much of the work off onto their legal assistants, much to the detriment of their clients.
Here are some signs that an attorney is not really handling your case:
- He or she never returns your phone calls
- Your lawyer seems unfamiliar with the details of your case when asked
- You rarely, if ever, meet with the attorney in person, and all communication is funneled through someone else.
#2. You aren’t being guided through the process
There’s a lot more to just filing a claim and then forgetting about it. Your attorney should be constantly preparing you for what comes next. That means keeping you apprised of any upcoming important events and steps, such as your independent medical examination or worker’s comp hearing.
If you are constantly being caught off guard by things, it could be a sign that your lawyer isn’t properly communicating with you.
#3. Your benefits suddenly stop
If you aren’t receiving guidance, it could be because your attorney doesn’t really know what is going on. A telltale sign that this is the case is if you suddenly stop receiving your benefits, without warning. In many cases, this happens when a lawyer misses an important deadline or fails to submit required documents.
#4. Your lawyer will not file other claims
Workers’ compensation claims often stem from safety violations, defective products, or environmental hazards. Crooked workers’ comp lawyers are often unwilling to take on government agencies, and therefore may refuse to file a complaint on your behalf.
You might also be able to file a personal injury lawsuit against a third-party, but you find that the attorney won’t help you initiate one. If they don’t give you a good reason why it’s not wise to pursue these or other claims, consider seeking legal counsel from another firm.
#5. There has been no effort to negotiate a settlement
A majority of workers’ compensation claims are settled out of court. By negotiating with the insurance company, you can save yourself the time and expense of trial. You will also have greater control over the outcome. A settlement offer probably won’t come until you have reached Maximum Medical Improvement (or MMI); however, your attorney should be preparing to negotiate long before that time.
#6. You are being pressured to settle
Bad worker’s comp lawyers don’t just fail to negotiate settlements. Often, they also encourage clients to settle too early, just so they don’t have to go to court. The first couple of offers you receive from an insurance company will likely be lowball settlements. If your attorney pressures you to accept one of these low offers without providing a reasonable explanation, it could be because he or she wants to get the case over with.
#7. Your claim seems to have changed
Has your attorney asked for damages that you believe are unrelated to your original claim? For example, has he or she added injuries for body parts that weren’t harmed — or have they listed a condition that is unrelated to your injury? Do you feel as though the amount of damages is excessive, or that they have increased significantly without any supporting evidence from a physician?
Crooked workers’ comp lawyers will often try to “pad” the damages. Sometimes they do so because they are also representing someone in a personal injury suit. Other times, they may do so for bragging rights. Either way, you and your lawyer could be in big trouble if you misrepresent your damages. If something doesn’t quite feel right, trust your gut and confront the attorney.
How to hire the best workers’ compensation lawyer
Now that you know how to spot a bad worker’s comp lawyer, what qualities should you look for in a good attorney?
First, your lawyer should have plenty of experience handling all types of worker’s compensation claims. A legal counselor should also provide you with good communication, keeping you updated on changes as they occur. Choose someone who is not afraid to do battle on your behalf, whether the fight takes place at the negotiating table, in the courtroom or with a government agency.
If you need to file a workers’ compensation claim, contact the experienced and trusted work injury lawyers at Gerber & Holder Law. We’ll provide you with high quality representation, and will never leave you hanging.