Atticus offers free, high-quality workers' compensation advice to those injured at work. Our team of Stanford and Harvard trained lawyers has a combined 15+ years of legal experience, and help thousands of Americans get the benefits they deserve each year.
Finding a lawyer can feel like a shot in the dark. Maybe you’ve heard the names of lawyers near you. Or maybe you’re starting your search from scratch. With so many factors that go into choosing the best workers’ comp lawyer, it’s understandable if you feel overwhelmed. This guide will help you get started so you can find the right lawyer for your case.
Who needs a workers’ comp lawyer?
A workers' comp lawyer is an expert in your local workers’ comp rules. You can benefit from working with a lawyer no matter which part of the process you’re in, but especially look for one if you’re dealing with any of the following situations:
There are many ways to find a lawyer, but here are five tips to help you find a qualified, experienced workers’ comp lawyer:
Ask friends and family for recommendations
Read reviews to find trends
Look for a firm that specializes in workers’ compensation
Don’t get too hung up on local lawyers
Talk with a lawyer before you sign them
1. Ask friends and family for recommendations
One of the best ways to find a good lawyer is to get a referral from someone you know and whose opinion you trust. If you know anyone else who has filed a workers’ comp claim, ask who they used and what their experience was like.
(If you don't have a recommendation handy, Atticus can refer you to a lawyer we trust. Our team of Stanford-trained attorneys meets with and vets workers comp lawyers around the country and adds the top 5% of firms to our network. If you're looking for someone to do the legwork for you, and match you with the best lawyer for your case, you can take our brief intake quiz to get started. Our services are always free).
2. Read reviews to find trends
Read online reviews for every lawyer and law firm you find. Or speak directly with past clients if you can. Look specifically at whether or not reviewers say the lawyer is responsive, knowledgeable, and kind. You’ll be working closely with your lawyer and want someone who answers all your questions and actually cares about your best interests.
Don’t let one bad review turn you off of a certain lawyer for good. Even the best lawyers lose cases sometimes and not all workers’ comp claims are the same. But if a lawyer does have several bad reviews, look for trends. Are multiple people saying the lawyer did not call them back? Do many clients mention the did not show up at their meetings or hearings? If you do find that the same negative comments are repeated over and over, look for another lawyer.
Keep in mind that some small law firms don’t have a website or much of an online presence. In those cases, it’s extra important to talk with former clients when possible and meet with the lawyer to ask questions (more on the questions to ask later).
3. Look for a specialized law firm
Workers’ compensation law is complicated and it differs widely from state to state. For the best chance of winning your claim, it’s smart to look for a law firm that specializes in workers’ comp.
You don’t necessarily need a firm that only takes worker’s comp cases. For example, lawyers often work in disability law alongside workers’ compensation. But if a firm is mostly advertising their successes in another field of law, like personal injury, they may not have the most experience working with claims like yours.
4. Don’t get too hung up on local lawyers
It can be nice to work with a local lawyer and get to know them face-to-face. But if there isn’t a good attorney in your city or county, don’t settle for a subpar option. Any lawyer who handles worker’s comp cases in your state can help you, even if they live hours away.
5. Talk with a lawyer before you sign them
Before you sign anything or agree to work with a specific lawyer, it’s important to talk with them. A good lawyer will offer you a free consultation, whether face-to-face or by phone.
During your first conversation, your goal is to get a better feel for whether this person actually cares about you and your claim. Also consider how easy it was to schedule the initial call. Do they answer your questions without seeming annoyed or put out? Are they upfront about their fees?
5 Questions to ask a workers’ comp lawyer
Once you’ve narrowed in on your top choices, speak with each lawyer to get an idea of who they are and how well the two of you might work together. Here’s a list of questions you should ask a workers’ comp lawyer:
How do you communicate with your clients? Some lawyers might prefer email, texting, or phone calls. The most important thing is whether they communicate well and promptly. Your lawyer may have multiple clients (and honestly, you may not need to communicate with your lawyer as much as you think) but you should also be able to get in contact with them if you have a question.
Have you worked on claims similar to mine? Workers’ comp claims can vary wildly. Look for someone with a proven track record of winning cases like yours. For example, if you got sick at work and may never return to work, but the lawyer has only ever taken claims involving short-term injuries, they may not be the best fit.
How long have you been practicing workers’ comp law? Ideally, you will work with a lawyer who has been practicing for several years, but that shouldn’t necessarily be your deciding factor. A lawyer with seven years of experience can be just as qualified as one with 27.
What is your education? There are many good law schools in the country, but you want a lawyer who did not attend a for-profit law school.
What is your fee? Most workers' comp lawyers will charge between 10% and 15% of your final payout, but it's important to know the exact fee before signing with anyone. A good lawyer will also charge a contingency fee, meaning you only pay if you win your workers' comp claim.
Listen carefully to the answers you receive to these questions. They will help you discern whether a given lawyer is right for you.
Red flags to watch out for
If you can’t get in touch with a lawyer because they don’t answer your messages or phone calls, that is a bad sign. Unresponsive lawyers will only make a stressful time even harder.
As you research lawyers, make sure clients don’t have regular complaints about them being late — for meetings, with paperwork, for hearings, etc. Missing deadlines can really hurt your workers’ comp claim.
Another tough situation with a bad lawyer is when they take your case only to drop you suddenly. At that point, you may have to scramble to find a new lawyer. Depending on the situation, even if you do find a new lawyer, the original lawyer may be legally entitled to some of their fee.
The best solution is to choose a good lawyer from the start. Be proactive about vetting your lawyer and asking questions. Listen closely to their answers to the questions listed above. If possible, ask past clients whether the lawyer cared about their case and was quick to submit paperwork. And in the end, if you don’t feel right about working with someone, look elsewhere.
Atticus can help you find a workers’ comp lawyer
If you still feel out of your depth choosing a workers’ comp lawyer, let us help. Atticus has a wide network of vetted attorneys who are experts at helping people get workers’ compensation and other disability benefits.
Fill out a short workers’ comp quiz to get started. Someone from our team will contact you to learn more about your situation so we can connect you with the best workers’ comp lawyer for your case.
Maximize your workers' comp benefits.
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 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?
Lawyer fees vary by state, but you can expect a workers’ comp lawyer fee about 15% of your final settlement or benefits payments. And while that can be a lot, the average settlement is also five times higher for people who have a lawyer versus people who don’t. Learn more on 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. Atticus can match you with a local lawyer who will make your case a priority. Fill out our 3-minute workers’ comp quiz to learn more.
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Victoria Muñoz is an attorney on Atticus’s Workers' Compensation team. She’s a licensed attorney, a graduate of Stanford Law School, and has counseled hundreds of people seeking workers' compensation. In her free time, she enjoys hiking and spending time with her pup.
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