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How Often Should I Hear From my Workers’ Comp Attorney?

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A portrait of Atticus Client Advocate Kerry O'Shea.
Kerry O'Shea
Client Advocate
May 1, 2024  ·  3 min read
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Hiring a lawyer is the first step toward receiving your full workers’ comp benefits. Navigating that professional relationship isn’t always easy, though. In particular, our team often hears questions about how frequently you should hear from your lawyer. Is going a few weeks without a call a bad sign? When should you contact your lawyer with questions? While there isn’t a one-size-fits-all answer, we can share some tips for working with lawyers so that you feel confident in your choice of representation.

When you should expect to hear from your lawyer

You and your lawyer should generally speak any time there is a change or development with your workers’ comp case. This could be as often as daily or as little as once every few months depending on where your claim is in the process, any issues or roadblocks you’re experiencing, and where you are with medical treatment.

It’s not uncommon for weeks or months to pass without a change to your case, but if you ever have questions, the best thing you can do is reach out to your lawyer. Ask them for updates, share updates you have, and let them know if you need help with anything. Otherwise, your lawyer may not realize when something has changed or that you have questions.

10 Situations when your lawyer should contact you

There are a handful of common situations when you can expect your lawyer to reach out. They mostly involve updates about your claim or other legal aspects of your claim. Examples include:

  1. Your workers’ comp claim was just filed.

  2. Your claim was approved or denied by insurance.

  3. Medical treatment has been approved or denied.

  4. An independent medical exam was scheduled.

  5. Insurance requested a functional capacity evaluation (FCE).

  6. Insurance sent you a settlement offer.

  7. There is an update on your settlement negotiations.

  8. Your settlement agreement was signed by insurance.

  9. Your settlement agreement was approved by a judge.

  10. A court hearing or meeting with a judge is scheduled.

11 Situations when you should contact your lawyer

As a client, you'll experience the best results if you keep your attorney informed of all changes to your condition and news that could impact your case. These will likely be related to your medical treatments, income changes (including non-work income), and developments at work (like updates to how many hours you’re working).

If you’re unsure whether something is worth sharing with your lawyer, share it anyway. It’s always better to overcommunicate.

Common situations when you should update your lawyer include:

  1. You met with or scheduled an appointment with a doctor.

  2. Something changed with your medical condition.

  3. There was a change to your medical treatment.

  4. You’re planning to leave your job, go on medical leave, or go on family leave (FMLA).

  5. You got fired or your employment was terminated.

  6. Your employer offered you modified-duty or light-duty work.

  7. Your workers’ comp checks are late or have stopped.

  8. Your medical care was denied or you received a medical bill.

  9. The insurance company sent you a letter you don’t understand.

  10. Your current work schedule is changing.

  11. You have questions or run into issues with the process.

At the end of the day, you hired your lawyer to represent you and your best interests. You should feel empowered to reach out to them whenever you feel it’s necessary.

What’s the best way to contact my lawyer?

This is a great question to cover early on with your representation, and a good workers’ comp lawyer will let you know how to reach them. Many lawyers nowadays operate remotely and scheduled fewer in-person meetings. Your lawyer may instead contact you via text, email, a phone call, or a video call.

Ask your attorney how they typically communicate with clients and share any preferences you have. As an example, if you prefer phone calls over texts or if you can’t answer the phone during certain hours, share that with your lawyer.

Also keep in mind that most lawyers represent multiple clients at once. If you call or text your lawyer but they don’t respond immediately, they may be in court, at a hearing, or speaking with another client. However, it is fair for you to ask how quickly you can expect a call back if your lawyer missed your call. For example, a busy lawyer may not always be able to answer a call immediately, but maybe they will try to return all calls within 24 hours.

Can I fire my workers’ comp lawyer?

You can fire your workers’ compensation lawyer but before you make any changes, we recommend talking to your lawyer. Changing lawyers isn’t always easy and sometimes sharing your concerns is enough to improve the working relationship. In many cases, client-lawyer relations sour because of miscommunication over how often someone should share updates on a case.

For example, we’ve heard numerous times that someone wants to fire their lawyer because they feel like they’re being ignored. When they raise the issue to their lawyer, the lawyer explains that there haven’t been any changes in the case in a few weeks and they didn’t realize the client had specific questions.

There are legitimate situations when you should fire your lawyer — like if they’re truly ignoring you, acting unprofessionally, disrespecting you, missing meetings, or showing up to meetings unprepared — we always suggest that as a first step, you share your concerns directly with the lawyer to clear up any misunderstandings.

Learn more about when you can fire your lawyer.

Frequently asked questions about workers’ comp lawyers

Do I need a workers’ comp lawyer?

Not everyone needs to work with a lawyer, but a workers’ comp lawyer can especially help if your claim is denied, your medical care is denied, or after you get a settlement offer. To help you make an informed decision, we’ve collected some situations when a workers’ comp lawyer can help.

How much does a workers' comp lawyer cost?

Laws vary by state, but you can generally expect a workers’ comp lawyer fee of between 15% and 33% of your final settlement. That sounds like a lot, but the average settlement with an Atticus lawyer is twice as high as for people who don't have a lawyer. Factor in the additional medical care your lawyer can likely negotiate for you, and in the end you still take home more money by having a lawyer. Learn more about workers' comp lawyer fees.

What does a workers’ comp lawyer do that I can’t?

A local lawyer is well-versed in your state’s laws, so they’ll know how to avoid payment delays, maximize your medical coverage, and negotiate higher payments or a bigger settlement. They can help even if you never get denied or experience a serious issue. Here’s more on what a workers’ comp lawyer actually does.

How to find the best workers’ comp lawyer

There are some key questions you should ask any lawyer before hiring them, like how much they charge, whether they have experience with similar cases, and how they communicate with clients throughout the process. Learn more in our guide to finding a good workers’ comp lawyer.

Can I change my workers’ comp lawyer?

You can fire your workers’ comp lawyer and hire a new one. Talk with your lawyer first, though. You may still have to pay them for some expenses and sometimes issues like slow responses or long wait times are the result of misunderstandings. But if your lawyer just isn’t working out, you have options. Here's more on how and when to fire your workers' comp attorney.

What's the difference between lawyers and attorneys?

The terms lawyer and attorney are mostly interchangeable. Technically the word lawyer could include more legal professionals than just attorneys, but all Atticus workers’ comp lawyers are also attorneys who can legally represent clients. Most state bar websites also have a feature that allows you to confirm an attorney's credentials by searching their name or bar number. A reputable lawyer will provide their bar number upon request.

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Related resources:

5 Common Questions About Workers’ Comp Lawyers

A hand draw portrait of a smiling, helpful lawyer.
By Victoria Muñoz

How Much a Workers’ Comp Lawyer Costs in Every State

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By Victoria Muñoz

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A portrait of Atticus Client Advocate Kerry O'Shea.

Kerry O'Shea

Client Advocate

Kerry O'Shea is an Atticus Client Advocate, helping injured workers to navigate the workers' compensation process and get the benefits they deserve.
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