CHECKLIST: What to expect and how to prepare for your lawyer consultation
After an injury at work, you might have lots of questions about your rights and compensation. In order to get answers, one of the first steps you might take is to speak with a workers’ compensation attorney. But if you have never hired an attorney before, you may naturally wonder what will happen during the initial meeting.
All cases are unique and your exact circumstances will determine the specifics of what takes place during the meeting. Even so, there are some steps you can take to be as prepared as possible when meeting with your attorney for the first time.
When you meet with an attorney regarding your workers’ compensation claim, it’s important to have all the necessary information to share with them from the start in order to better understand the challenges and value of your case. Having this information ready for the attorney can make your initial consultation more productive and give the attorney what they need to fight for your rights.
During this first meeting, you should be prepared to discuss the specifics of your injury. This will include details about where the injury took place, what you were doing when the injury occurred and any other relevant information. The attorney may also ask you about your job history prior to the injury, as this may be relevant information to determine the amount of benefits you will be eligible to receive.
In addition, you should be prepared to bring important documents to the meeting with your attorney. Here’s a checklist of what to bring to your first lawyer consultation about your workers’ compensation case:
- Accident report
- Employment records (pay stubs, employee ID number, hire date, job title and duties)
- Any secondary employment information
- Paperwork and documents from your employer
- Initial medical treatment records
- Records for follow-up care and treatment
- Medical bills
- Photos of your injuries
- Correspondence (phone and email) with your employer and insurers
- Witness names and contact details
When the accident occurred, you ideally filed a written report with your employer shortly afterward. Bring a copy of this report to your meeting with the attorney as it will contain a brief summary of how the accident happened. This report also helps to verify the fact that you reported the accident to your employer and is the starting point for your case.
If you don’t already have a copy of the report, you may need to request one. If your employer isn’t forthcoming with providing a copy, you should report this to your attorney.
The amount of compensation you may be eligible for depends on how much you were making at the time of the accident. You can expect to receive a portion of your average earnings in the period of time leading up to the accident. In order to calculate your average earnings and make sure that you get the compensation that you deserve, an attorney will need these employment records, such as paystubs.
In addition, prepare other employment and earnings records such as your hire date, employee identification number, job title and job duties. Bring as much of this information as you can find.
Second job information
Today, having 2 or even 3 jobs is commonplace. Workers’ compensation payments may include income from a second job if you are unable to continue to work both jobs because of your injury from 1 place of employment. Bring these records so that your attorney can factor your second job into your claim calculation.
Any paperwork your employer gave you
When you file a workers’ compensation report, your employer may give you paperwork to take home with you. In addition to receiving a copy of your injury report, you may also receive information that explains the workers’ compensation process, an explanation of benefits that are available and what your rights are. Your attorney may also want to review this information, so bring whatever your employer gave you to the consultation.
Records from your initial medical treatment
If you received medical attention immediately after the accident, then you may have gotten medical paperwork that says what you were treated for along with a treatment plan and recommendations for follow-up care. This information is helpful to verify the link between the accident and your injuries, so the lawyer will likely want to take a look.
It’s also important to establish the extent of your injuries and your inability to work in the aftermath of the accident. The attorney will need to review these records to evaluate your injuries and create a timeline of the case and course of treatment.
Records from follow-up medical care
Bring any records and paperwork from follow-up medical care that you receive after the accident. These records will show your course of treatment, what conditions you continue to experience and how these injuries interfere with work.
In addition, medical records establish that you are serious about addressing your injuries and compliant with your medical care plan. These records may include dates of treatment, medical records or follow-up care recommendations. You can typically request copies of your medical records from your healthcare provider.
It’s also a good idea to bring any information related to any other expenses associated with your injury. This might include money you have spent on equipment related to treatment, such as a brace, or even the miles you have traveled to reach medical appointments.
Bills for medical care
If you have received any medical bills, whether or not you have paid them, bring them to your attorney consultation as well. Generally, treatment for work-related injuries should be covered by your employer’s workers’ compensation insurance company, but the attorney will usually want to review these records to evaluate the care that you have received and to ensure that your care is covered as it should be under state law.
Photos of injuries
Photographs of the accident scene and your injuries can be telling. Pictures and videos can serve as proof that you were injured at work, as well as show the extent of what your injuries are. Depending on the injuries, photos may show improvement or the worsening of an injury over time. Whether it’s the presence of faulty equipment or some other hazard that contributed to your injury, it’s always a good idea to have photographic evidence. Additionally, bring along any photographs of your injury, if possible.
If there are photos of the accident scene, be sure to bring them so that your lawyer may take a look. While memories fade after an accident, visual evidence can be invaluable to documenting the extent and severity of the injury you suffered. The attorney may be able to use them as evidence as well to further support your claim.
Correspondence and communication about your claim
If you have had any exchanges with your employer or their insurance company regarding your claim, bring along copies so that the attorney can see how these exchanges might be helpful to your case. For example, admissions from your employer may help prove that they received a report of the injury and negotiate a resolution in your favor.
Names and contact information for witnesses
If there were any coworkers or customers who witnessed the accident or observed your injuries, the attorney may want to speak with them. Write down their names and contact information (phone number, address and email address) so that the attorney can contact these witnesses to follow up.
Questions for your attorney
Finally, take a few moments prior to your initial consultation with your attorney to write down any questions you would like to ask. If you are considering more than one attorney to hire, make a point of asking questions to compare their experience in handling workers’ compensation cases, their success rate and whether they have experience in taking cases to trial.
You may wish to ask questions about what you can expect as part of the claims process. Also, ask specific questions related to how the attorney will communicate with you and how long they expect it will take to resolve your case.
What to expect at your lawyer consultation
While we know this can be a lot of paperwork and information to gather for your first consultation with an attorney, it’s better to be over-prepared than under-prepared. By bringing these items, you can ensure that the lawyer has all of the information they need to accurately review your case and determine the best next steps.
Remember that the more information you can provide to your attorney, and the earlier you can provide it, the better chance you have to successfully resolve your case as quickly as possible.
Also, the more comprehensive the information you provide to your attorney, the better prepared they will be to assess your case. Taking the time to gather the relevant information to provide a comprehensive overview of your case will go a long way toward ensuring your case is represented in the best manner possible.
When you meet with our workers’ compensation attorneys, we’ll ask you to explain what happened to cause your injury. We may ask follow-up questions, then explain your rights and responsibilities. Ultimately, our goal is to help you understand your legal options as well as the services we are able to provide.