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Questions to Ask When Hiring an Illinois Workers' Comp Attorney

The right questions can lead you to hire the right Illinois workers' comp lawyer for you. But if you've never had to hire an attorney before, how do you know what those questions are? This article is designed to help.

If you've been injured in a workplace injury, it is wise to talk with an Illinois workers' compensation attorney. Before hiring just anyone, consider interviewing one or more to see if you have found the right lawyer for you.

Most Illinois workers' comp lawyers are willing to meet with you for a brief introductory session, called an initial consultation. This is your chance to learn about a lawyer's background, skills, and strategy.

You'll also learn about the nuts and bolts of how your case will be handled and what it could cost you. At the same time, the lawyers will ask you questions about your Illinois worker's comp claim and can provide valuable feedback about your chances to recover the money you've spent on medical bills and lost wages.

But most of all, the initial consultation is where-based on your questions-you can determine whether that lawyer should be representing you.

Many Illinois workers' compensation lawyers do not charge for the initial consultation, but double check if there is a fee when you book the appointment.

Interviewing Illinois Workers' Comp Lawyers

Whether you are in Peoria or Chicago or any other part of Illinois, you'll need to spend some time preparing for your initial consultations. Write out the questions you want to ask. This article offers a number of suggested questions you can use. Feel free to use whichever ones you want and write some of your own.

You'll need to come to the initial consultations with:

  • Your prepared list of questions
  • Paper and writing utensils to record the answers to your questions and to make notes
  • Any documentation you have regarding your on-the-job injury, including medical reports and bills

Background & Experience

A good place to start the initial consultation is with questions about the attorney's background. Some relevant questions to ask include:

  • How long have you been practicing law?
  • From where did you graduate law school? And where did you get your undergraduate degree?
  • Do you practice in other areas of the law besides Illinois workers' compensation law? If so, which ones?
  • Do you belong to any bar associations or professional organizations? If so, which ones?
  • How long have you been handling Illinois workers' compensation claims?
  • How many workers' compensation cases do you take on each year?
  • How many workers' comp claims do you settle each year? How many go before an Illinois state workers' compensation board administrative for a hearing?

Legal Philosophy & Style

You may be curious about the Illinois workers' comp lawyer's style of practicing law. Ask questions about his or her legal philosophy and style, such as:

  • What is your approach or philosophy in handling workers' compensation claims?
  • How do you handle decision-making? Will you give me options to choose with some advice or just tell me what I should do?
  • How would you describe your style as an attorney?

Assessment of Your Claim

While you are asking questions of the Illinois workers' compensation lawyer, he or she will also be asking questions of you, trying to gauge how strong a claim you may have against your employer. You don't want to leave without getting the lawyer's feedback, so consider asking questions such as:

  • What is your opinion and assessment of my workers' compensation claim?
  • Do the circumstances surrounding my workplace injuries fall within the Illinois Workers' Compensation Act?
  • How strong is my claim? Can you foresee any problems that will delay or reduce the size of my claim?
  • Do you think we can settle, or will we have to go before Illinois's state workers' compensation board for a resolution?
  • How long do you think it will take to wrap up my claim?
  • Case Management

    Illinois workers' compensation attorneys use the term case management to describe how they handle the claim as it progresses through the system. It's important to know the logistics because you don't want any surprises down the road. Here are some questions to ask:

    • Are you available to represent me?
    • Will any other attorneys be working on my claim? If so, what will they be doing?
    • Will I see you personally handling negotiations and representing me at workers' compensation administrative hearings?
    • Will you be managing my claim on a day-to-day basis, or will that be somebody else's job?
    • Will you be my contact person, or should I be contacting somebody else with questions and status updates?
    • Will you provide regular progress reports? How often? What will they include?
    • How do you prefer that I contact you? How quickly will you get back to me?

    Legal Fees

    We probably do not have to tell you how important it is to understand how your Illinois workers' compensation attorney charges for his or her services. Here are some questions that will help you get a better grip on the finances:

    • How are you compensated for your time? Will I be hiring you on contingency with you taking a percentage of my award, or will I pay you by the hour?
    • If we are unable to prevail, will I still owe you money?
    • Do you require an up-front retainer fee?
    • What other fees and expenses will I be required to pay? Can you give me an estimate for them?
    • Can you do the math by showing what I may end up with after deducting legal fees and expenses if the claim settles with my employer? If we have to go to an administrative hearing?

    Hiring an Illinois Workers' Compensation Lawyer

    After you have met with all the Illinois workers' compensation attorneys you are considering, it's time to make a hiring decision. If one was clearly the best, then your decision is not hard. However, if you met several who are deserving of the job, then call a few of their former clients to get some real-world feedback.

    After asking so many questions of the lawyers, it's time to ask yourself a few questions:

    • Which attorney had the most solid background and experience with Illinois workers' compensation law?
    • Which one proposed a strategy I believe will be successful?
    • Which one offered an estimate for my potential award that seemed the most realistic?
    • Which one charges fees and expenses that seemed the most fair and reasonable?
    • In which one is my confidence best placed? Who offered the best advice and showed the best judgment? Which one made me feel most comfortable?

    Upon answering this questions, you're likely to discover the one, best Illinois workers' compensation lawyer for you. You're now ready to begin your worker's comp claim.