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Questions to Ask When Hiring a Washington Workers' Comp Lawyer

So you’ve been injured on the job and need to hire a Washington workers’ comp lawyer to help you with your claim. Before selecting an attorney, it’s a good idea to interview the attorney to ensure you’ve selected one who best fits your needs. This article will provide you an with array of questions to ask a lawyer.

The best time to interview a workers’ compensation lawyer is during the initial consultation. An initial consultation is a meeting between you and the potential lawyer. During this meeting, you can discuss your case, his strategy for handling your case and his billing rates. You can also obtain a list of the lawyers’ references to ask about their experience with the lawyer.

Take time to prepare for the initial consultation. First, write down your contact information for the lawyer. This should include your home address, home phone number, cell phone number, email address, place of employment and work phone number.

Next, collect any important documents relating to your case. These include medical records, pay stubs, medical bills, witness accounts or any documents from your employer's workers’ compensation carrier. You may want to bring your employee handbook and performance evaluations as well.

Then summarize your case in writing for the Washington workers’ comp lawyer. Writing down the facts associated with your case will help an attorney assess it better. (A workers’ compensation lawyer may also ask you to fill out a form before the meeting that details similar information.) Include the following information:

  • The name and address of your employer
  • Hiring date
  • Date the accident occurred
  • The date you stopped working because of your injury
  • The date you resumed working
  • Your salary before and after the accident, if it was adjusted
  • Information about your injury
  • A detailed account of the incident, including where the accident occurred, how it happened and the name of the supervisor to whom you reported the incident
  • A list of witnesses who saw the incident
  • A detailed account of the medical treatment you received. Include dates of treatments and whatever medical treatment you were provided.

Washington Workers’ Comp Lawyer Questions

Questions should focus on four key areas: A lawyer’s experience, legal fees, assessment of your case and case management style. Asking the right questions will help you choose the right lawyer for you.

Make sure the lawyer has the right skills to handle your case. Legal experience questions include:

  • Where did you attend law school?
  • How long have you practiced workers’ comp law?
  • Have you handled a workers’ comp case like mine before?
  • Do you only represent employees, or do you also represent employers?
  • What percentage of your practice focuses on workers’ compensation?
  • Are you a member of the Washington State Bar Association or any other legal association?

Then determine how much a lawyer charges before you hire him. Legal fees questions include:

  • How do you bill for a workers’ comp case?
  • How much will I pay in legal fees?
  • What other legal expenses will I have to pay for?
  • How much do you think my case is worth?
  • How much do I stand to receive after paying your legal fees and expenses?
  • Will you receive a percentage of my settlement? If so, how much?

You also need to make sure the lawyer understands your workers’ comp case. Case assessment questions include:

  • What is your strategy for handling my case?
  • What are my legal options?
  • What problems do you see with my workers’ comp case?
  • What are the potential outcomes for my case?
  • Do you think I can win my case?
  • How long will it take to resolve my case?

Finally, you should understand who will be working on your case and comprehend a lawyer’s process for handling a workers’ comp case. Case management questions include:

  • Would you be my lawyer or would another attorney in your firm represent me?
  • If another lawyer would be handling my case, can I meet with him?
  • What is your process for handling a workers’ compensation case?
  • What percentage is handled by you and what percentage is handled by your staff?
  • Could you provide me information about the people who would be working on my case with you?
  • How often will you keep me updated about my case?
  • What’s the best way to contact you?

After the Washington Workers’ Comp Lawyer Meeting

In Washington, on the job injury lawyers are supposed to be your advocate. After meeting with a workers’ comp lawyer, assess the pros and cons of working with him. Ask yourself:

  • Does the lawyer have the right experience to handle my case?
  • Did he answer all of my questions?
  • Do I like the strategy he plans on using for my case?
  • What did I like about the lawyer?
  • What did I dislike about the lawyer?
  • Can I afford to hire him?

If you are having difficulty choosing an attorney, call the references and ask for their input. What did they like or dislike about the attorney? Would they hire the attorney again? Were they happy with the outcome of their case?

After you assess each potential attorney and speak with their references, you should be able to choose an attorney who’s right for your workers’ comp case.