Knowing how to find a good workers’ compensation lawyer is a skill that isn’t needed very often. However, when you are trying to find an attorney, it’s important to know the proper steps and qualifications. For a severe injury or one that leaves you with a long-term disability, a good workers’ compensation lawyer could help you negotiate appropriate benefits. They can also protect your claim from small mistakes that could jeopardize your benefits.
There are five things that you need to look for in the workers’ compensation lawyer who handles your case.
A Good Workers’ Compensation Lawyer Has Relevant Experience
The workers’ compensation program in North Carolina is entirely different from other types of injury cases, like car accidents. There are special forms that you need to file and tight deadlines to follow. When you are trying to deal with severe injuries, you should not have to educate yourself on our state’s benefits program for injured workers.
Many lawyers will accept a workers’ compensation case for a client, even if they have never handled a case like this before. You deserve an attorney who is board-certified in workers’ compensation, like our own Robert Whitley, Jr., in North Carolina. You can generally find this information on their website or ask their team if their lawyer has this certification.
Your Lawyer Should Be a Responsive Communicator
When you have a pending workers’ compensation case, you might need to contact your attorney frequently. Circumstances change quickly, so you want a lawyer who will return your calls and get answers to your questions.
You should look for a workers’ compensation lawyer who allows direct contact by email, telephone call, and text message—whichever mode of communication is most convenient for you. They should also return missed calls within 24 hours. This kind of responsiveness is not just helpful for your peace of mind, but it can help to protect your case from miscommunications, missed deadlines, and delays.
They Should Have Knowledge of the Industrial Commission Forms and Procedures
Our state workers’ compensation program requires the use of forms from the Industrial Commission. If you ask a lawyer about the North Carolina Industrial Commission, and they can’t tell you all about it, you may want to reconsider their ability to handle your case.
Your Attorney Should Help You Develop a Long-Term Plan
Your workers’ compensation lawyer should develop an exit strategy for you. In other words, when you reach the point of Maximum Medical Improvement (MMI),
your lawyer needs to have a plan for what happens next.
The available options, if you have permanent disabilities or work restrictions, are to settle your claim with the workers’ compensation insurance company or stay in the workers’ compensation program and continue to receive medical care and some other benefits.
The right choice for you will depend on your circumstances. If you decide to settle, you will want to make sure that the settlement proceeds are enough to pay for your future medical care and other costs.
They Should Pursue Every Available Option for Your Compensation
An inexperienced lawyer handling a workers’ compensation case might understand the basic benefits like medical care and payment of a portion of the injured worker’s regular salary but not know about the hidden claims that could be lurking in your case. These hidden claims, if left unexplored, could mean unrecovered benefits for you.
Three of the most common types of hidden claims apply in these situations:
- When you receive temporary total disability (TTD) compensation while unable to work, your boss is supposed to pay 2/3 of your regular salary, but some do not. You might not realize that your boss is shorting you on this compensation. If this amount is too low, it could impact other benefits, like the amount of your permanent disability benefits. An attorney can make sure you’re receiving what you are actually owed.
- If you have to drive more than 20 miles to doctor’s appointments, the workers’ compensation insurance program is supposed to pay you for your mileage. The mileage reimbursement also applies if someone drives you to your appointments. Often, the insurance company does not tell the injured person about this program benefit.
- You have to be away from the job for at least seven days in a row before you can receive income benefits. What the insurance company might not tell you is that, after 30 days of being out of work, you can request payment for that first week.
Your Attorney Will Protect You From Retaliation
Sometimes, people worry about getting fired if they file a workers’ compensation claim. North Carolina has strict laws that make it illegal to fire or demote a worker in retaliation for filing a workers’ compensation claim.
If you fear retaliation, it may be helpful to have an attorney on your side. They can make sure that your rights are protected and that no one abuses their power as your employer.
Choose the Whitley Law Firm for Your Workers’ Compensation Case
Our team has all the qualifications you’re looking for and more. At the Whitley Law Firm, we have more than 80 years of experience helping injured people go after the compensation they deserve. We work on a contingency-fee basis, which means that we do not charge upfront legal fees. We only get paid if you win.
You can contact us today at (919) 785-5000 for a free consultation. Our compassionate team members can provide in-depth legal advice for your situation at absolutely no cost or obligation to you. If we proceed with your case, we will fight wholeheartedly for your benefits and interests.