You have been hurt and work and you are in pain, frustrated, and confused. You know you need an attorney, but, understand that hiring the wrong lawyer can only compound your frustration and confusion. You have set an appointment to meet with a workers’ compensation attorney. As much as this is an opportunity for you to lessen your confusion and get on the right path, it is also the responsibility of the attorney to make you comfortable and help you understand why you should hire them. In an effort to help you properly evaluate the attorney at the consultation, you should, at least, ask these five questions:
- What is your experience in Louisiana workers’ compensation law?
Louisiana workers’ compensation law is very specialized. There are rules specific to workers’ compensation cases that do not exist anywhere else in Louisiana law. These are not personal injury cases. If the attorney begins to tell you about their experience in personal injury, tort, or civil cases, run, do not walk, to the door. Without knowledge of the specialized rules in Louisiana workers’ compensation law, this attorney can cost you money and opportunity. They may advise you to do something (or not do something) that can significantly impair your workers’ compensation claim.
- What is your fee?
Attorney’s fees in Louisiana workers’ compensation law is set by statute. No attorney may receive more than 20% of the benefits you receive. Even then, the attorney must apply to the Office of Workers’ Compensation (basically the administrative judge in these types of cases) and be approved, to receive their attorney’s fees. Any attorney that does not tell you this, or quotes you something more than 20%, is not the attorney for you.
- What are the benefits to which I may be entitled?
In Louisiana, employers (through their insurance companies) are responsible for paying all reasonable medical expenses associated with your on-the-job injury. In addition, you are also entitled to “indemnity benefits” in the amount of sixty-six and two-thirds percent of your average weekly wage for the four weeks prior to your injury. You are also entitled to receive mileage benefits for your travel to and from work-related-injury doctors appointments, or, if you have no transportation, the employer is responsible for providing transportation to and from your doctors visits. If the attorney you meet with does not tell you these things, you may want to reconsider this attorney.
- What amount can I receive for pain and suffering?
Any attorney that tells you that you are entitled to pain and suffering for workers’ compensation cases is WRONG. Louisiana workers’ compensation law does not allow an injured worker to recover for pain and suffering. If the attorney you are meeting with does not tell you this when you ask, that attorney is not familiar with Louisiana workers’ compensation law.
- When are you available?
Most attorneys are available Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Although it does not happen often, sometimes you need your attorney to be available, in some way, after hours or on the weekends. You may have an important question or you may have issues with receiving medication or getting in to see a doctor. Having an attorney available, at least by email, after hours and on the weekends can be a big selling point when choosing a workers’ compensation attorney.
The attorneys at Stanley-Wallace Law have helped numerous injured workers navigate the complicated Louisiana workers’ compensation claim process. Let us help you. For a free consultation, please contact us via telephone at (985) 288-4621 or via email: [email protected].