Red flags that you shouldn’t hire an Arizona workers’ compensation lawyer
When you hire a workers’ compensation lawyer, you might expect life to become easier. With help from the right lawyer, you won’t have to negotiate with an insurance provider, you won’t have to file so much paperwork, and you can simply focus on recovering and getting back to work.
However, a bad workers’ comp lawyer will create more trouble for you and may also cost you a lot of money. Here are several warning signs that you would be better off with a different lawyer.
Hiring an experienced, professional lawyer can be costly, but they should also be upfront about how they are billing you. There are different types of billing—hourly rate, blended rate and a flat fee, to name a few. Make sure you understand how billing works.
Your lawyer doesn’t know the details
Your lawyer should be well-versed in your case because they’re devoting a substantial amount of time to it. However, if you’re speaking to your lawyer and they don’t know your injuries or where you were injured, your case may not be receiving the attention it deserves.
You may also notice your lawyer asking the same questions repeatedly, which is a sign that they’re overworked. Not knowing the details of your case is also simply unprofessional.
You have never met or talked to your lawyer in person
With so many ways to reach a lawyer, many legal professionals choose to perform the bulk of their communications on the phone and online. However, you should meet your lawyer face-to-face as well. It’s especially important to find out if you have a good rapport with your lawyer and that you are on the same page. Without non-verbal communication, a lot of meaning is lost.
Your lawyer only considers one aspect of your case
With workers’ compensation, filing a claim to your employer’s insurance provider is only the start. There are often several other concerns that may have played a role in your injury including defective equipment, environmental hazards and safety violations. However, your attorney may refuse to file claims against these additional parties and limit how much you may ultimately be compensated.
A great lawyer will give you advice on any additional benefits that you may receive out of your workers’ compensation claim so you can come out ahead.
Relying on the opinion of the judge
A judge must approve your workers’ compensation settlement. However, just because a settlement has been approved, that doesn’t mean that you are receiving a fair and appropriate settlement.
Lack of updates
You may be wondering where your case is going, but your lawyer will not provide you with any updates. Good lawyers will typically respond to emails and phone calls within 2 days, barring holidays. If your case isn’t going well, an unprofessional lawyer might make themselves hard to find.
Your lawyer should be preparing you and coaching you through each key part of your workers’ compensation case. You must be prepared for your independent medical examination, deposition and hearing so you can have the best possible outcome.
No settlement negotiations
A vast majority of workers’ compensation cases are resolved through a settlement. However, you will not need to reach a settlement until you have reached the maximum medical improvement (MMI). This is the point at which your doctor does not expect you to improve any further.
A good lawyer will work hard to negotiate the highest settlement offer possible, while a crooked or incompetent lawyer will accept a low-ball offer so they can quickly resolve the case. If you think your settlement offer is too low, ask another lawyer for a second opinion.
A bad lawyer will place you under pressure to settle too early so that they don’t have to risk going to court. You should accept a settlement only when it will pay all of your bills and not when your lawyer simply wants the case to be over with.
Rather than being unwilling to represent you, a good lawyer will be happy to represent you in court. Bad lawyers, on the other hand, dread the discovery process and all of the paperwork that must be submitted on time.
Your lawyer’s office isn’t friendly
The law firm staff should treat you like a family member. They should be asking you about how your treatment is going and whether you like your doctors. They should also make sure that you’re following your doctor’s orders since a failure to do so can lead to your claim being denied. If you feel unwelcome, your lawyer might not be the right fit.
Questions and answers about compensation for a job-related accident, injury or illness in Arizona
Your claim has changed without explanation
You may notice that your lawyer has updated your claim to include body parts that weren’t injured or symptoms that are not related to your injury.
The amount of damages your lawyer claims might seem excessive without evidence to support it. This is a problem that you only see with bad lawyers as they try to pad the damages to increase the settlement to an unjustified amount (and therefore increase their cut of the settlement).
If you see any warning signs of an unprofessional or crooked workers’ compensation lawyer in Arizona, there’s no reason to put up with it any longer. To report your lawyer’s behavior, contact the State Bar of Arizona.