Finding the right attorney can be a tough process. Just because someone hires an attorney first does not mean that attorney is the right one for him or her. However, when it comes to workers’ compensation cases, changing an attorney is not always easy.
Here are some basic tips to keep in mind when considering switching workers’ compensation attorneys. We have asked attorney, Alaina Sullivan, and here is what she had to say:
Working with the Current Attorney
Before making the decision to cut ties with the employee’s current attorney, it is advisable that the employee at least speak with the lawyer about his or her dissatisfaction. It is possible that miscommunication could be the reason for this discord amongst the two.
If it is possible that the two parties can work things out, this will avoid any delays on the process. Many times, clients have a lack of understanding of the process or have unreasonable expectations on what they should be doing or receiving. If that is the case, these differences can often be easily worked out.
If, however, the reason for the dissatisfaction with the attorney has to do with differences that cannot be resolved, the employee will need to get approval from the workers’ compensation agency within the state before hiring another attorney.
This requirement is only if the workers’ compensation claim has been filed. If one has not been filed, the employee is open to hiring a new attorney.
Reasons to Change Attorneys
Many reasons can exist as to why a client will want to switch to a different workers’ compensation attorney. Some of these reasons can include:
- The case is taking too long to finalize. Keep in mind, if this is one of the reasons the client is not happy with his or her attorney, it could be something not within the attorney’s control. Many times, the length of time can be something only within the control of the workers’ compensation board or hearing officer. If the delay is because of the attorney, however, the client may have a valid reason for wanting to find a new attorney.
- The attorney is not communicating with the client. This reason for the breakdown of an attorney-client relationship is all-too-common. If the attorney is not returning the client’s calls, and the client does not feel like his or her case really matters to the attorney, this may be a reason for finding alternate representation.
- The attorney does not specialize in workers’ compensation law. If the client believed the attorney was competent to handle the case but ended up not knowing much at all about the law, this may be a very valid reason for wanting to find a new attorney.
How to Make the Switch
Before making the move, it may be recommended the client first talk with another attorney to get a second opinion. He or she may believe that the reason for being upset with the attorney is valid only to discover that it is actually something that the other attorney would do, as well.
Also, many attorneys are hesitant to take on a case after the first attorney was fired. Do not make the jump unless the client knows that he or she has another attorney waiting in the wings. The last thing that the client wants is to be left in the cold with no attorney at all.
To end the attorney-client relationship, the client needs to notify the attorney that he or she is ending the relationship. The client will need to sign a new retainer agreement with the new attorney.
The two attorneys will then need to negotiate the settlement fee for any workers’ compensation benefits that are awarded. Attorney fees are included as part of a workers’ compensation award, but this does not mean the amount is limitless.
In addition, the workers’ compensation law judge will also need to approve the fees requested by this new lawyer, as well as the request for this new lawyer to come onto the case.
Contact an Attorney Today
If you are in the process of pursuing workers’ compensation and have questions about how what to do in the event of an initial denial, a workers’ compensation attorney can help review your case and discuss your options.
An attorney can listen to the facts of the case and can best advise you on how to proceed. Contact an attorney experienced in workers’ compensation law to schedule a consultation today.