When it comes to hiring a workers’ compensation attorney, injured employees may face several different questions. One of these questions is where they should hire this attorney.
Should the attorney be from the state where the injury occurred, or can the attorney be from the state where the client resides? We have asked attorney, Alaina Sullivan, and here is what she had to say:
Understanding Workers’ Compensation Policies
Workers’ compensation is a type of insurance that provides wage replacement and medical benefits to a company’s employees who have become injured during employment.
These benefits are available to the employee in exchange for a mandatory release of the employee’s right to sue the employer in a personal injury negligence suit. Each state has its own workers’ compensation laws, and while they tend to be uniform to some respect, each state can differ.
If the employee is a federal employee, the workers’ compensation law is governed under the federal law.
Selection of Jurisdiction
It can be problematic when an employer purchases workers’ compensation insurance in one state and have employees working or even living in another state. The reason for this complication is an employee is entitled to select the jurisdiction through which they wish to pursue their claims.
The employee is entitled to file a claim in the state where the work is principally located, the state where the injury occurred, if it is different, or where they live.
When it comes to each individual state, that specific state controls the law within its own boundaries. States will apply their jurisdiction if the injury happened within that state’s borders.
If an employee is employed by a company in one state, travels to a second state for work and suffers an injury, the second state where the injury occurred can apply its own workers’ compensation law for that injury.
Forty-three of the states will apply their jurisdiction if the contract of employment was made within that state. Forty states will apply their own state’s jurisdiction if the employment is considered to be principally located in that state, and the employee was injured in another state.
Therefore, most of the jurisdictional issues tend to be fairly fact specific and can go in either direction for the injured employee. However, 15 states will not apply their state’s laws if someone works for an out-of-state employer who has workers’ compensation insurance under another state’s law.
Choosing an Attorney
Once it is established which jurisdiction will govern the case, the next decision will be who will assist the client in preparing and handling the case. If the case is governed under federal law because the employee is a federal employee, the client will not necessarily be restricted to an attorney in that state.
If the injured employee has to file the claim in the state where the injury occurred but he or she does not live in that state, it does help to have an attorney from that jurisdiction handle the case. Attorneys are limited to where they can practice by that state’s governing law.
This normally means that the attorney needs to be licensed in that particular state. However, some states do have provisions in their laws that allow attorneys from another state to register in that state to be granted permission to handle the case.
However, for purposes of efficiency, saving money and time, it is often best to hire an attorney who will handle the case in the state where the injury occurred since all other proceedings will be in that location. It would be less costly for the client to travel to that state than to pay for an attorney to travel from in and out of state.
Since workers’ compensation cases often result in legal fees being paid to the attorney from the success of the case and not from the individual client, attorneys may be hesitant to take an out-of-state case.
Ultimately it is up to the client to weigh the pros and cons with hiring an attorney in his or her given state or in the state where the incident occurred, if the suit has to be filed in that jurisdiction.
Contact an Attorney Today
If you are in the process of pursuing workers’ compensation and have questions about the process and what to expect, 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.