One of the most important steps that an employee can take after he or she has been injured on the job is to contact an experienced workers’ compensation attorney. The first meeting with an attorney provides an injured worker with a good idea of the strengths and weaknesses of his or her workers’ compensation claim as well as the lawyer’s experience and interest in the case.
What to Bring to the First Meeting with a Workers’ Comp Attorney
You should bring as much information about your workplace injury as possible for the attorney to review at the first consultation. Coming prepared with relevant documents and materials can help the attorney determine whether you have a valid claim. You may want to consider gathering the following documents:
The earlier the information is collected, the quicker the claim can proceed.
In addition to allowing the lawyer to review the details of your workplace injury, your first consultation with a workers’ compensation attorney will give you a chance to ask questions about the attorney’s experience. You may consider asking the following types of questions:
- How long has the lawyer been practicing law?
- What portion of the lawyer’s caseload are workers’ compensation claims?
- Has the lawyer represented clients with injuries similar to yours?
- What is the lawyer’s success rate on workers’ compensation cases?
- Will the attorney personally be handling your case?
Once you have satisfied yourself as to the attorney’s background and credentials, you may want to discuss strategy. For example, you can ask the lawyer to explain the strengths and weaknesses of your case, discuss whether settlement or mediation is an option, and request an estimate of the value of your claim.
It also is important to discuss fees and costs, including how much the attorney will charge and whether there are other legal expenses related to filing a claim. Asking these questions up front can help prevent any misunderstandings that could later prove troublesome or expensive.
Workers’ compensation is a complicated area of law. The initial consultation can be helpful in giving you a better idea of what filing a workers’ compensation claim will involve and what you should expect. You may want to ask some or all of the following questions:
- What benefits can you expect to collect if your claim is approved;
- How long will it take before you will start receiving benefits;
- How long will you be able to receive benefits;
- Can you continue to collect workers’ compensation after you return to work;
- Do you have to be treated by an employer-approved physician;
- What kinds of options do you have if your employer does not have workers’ compensation insurance;
- How long do you have to be out of work to be eligible for replacement of lost wages;
- How much can you expect to receive in wage replacement benefits;
- How long will it take for a claim to be either denied or approved;
- What steps are you required to take to be eligible for benefits under North Carolina law;
- How long do you have to report an injury;
- What happens if you become permanently disabled as a result of your injuries; and
- What are your legal options if a third party’s negligence or recklessness caused your accident?
An injured employee will always need to report an injury to his or her employer within 30 days of the workplace accident to be eligible to collect benefits. The amount of benefits that you are eligible to receive will depend on your average wage. The length of time that you are able to collect them will depend on the severity of your injury. That is why it is important to come prepared with specifics about your case when you first meet with an attorney.
Schedule a Free Case Evaluation With an N.C. Workers’ Compensation Attorney
At Hardison & Cochran, we understand that it can be intimidating to meet with an attorney to discuss your workers’ compensation injury. Keep in mind that the initial consultation is free with no obligation to hire us.
Our attorneys will treat you with compassion and respect and explain you legal options. Selecting an experienced workers’ compensation attorney who understands North Carolina workers’ compensation law can make the difference in the outcome of your claim.
At Hardison & Cochran, we have attorneys who have completed additional training in workers’ compensation law and are State Board Certified specialists in workers’ compensation law by the North Carolina State Bar. Please do not hesitate to contact us and set up a free consultation with a member of our experienced workers’ compensation legal team.