I read a competitor friend's blog recently and it listed several things that an injured worker should look for in a workers comp attorney. Some I agreed with, others I don't - different strokes for different folks. At any rate, I've made my own list of important things to look for in a workers comp attorney in Arizona:
1. The attorney practices exclusively workers compensation. Workers comp is an extremely specialized area of the law. Attorneys who try and dabble in it are unaware of certain biases that doctors or judges may have, and some of the more subtle nuances of the law.
2. The attorney has great staff. This is where I take exception with my competitor friend. As an attorney, if I'm answering the telephone or on hold with your pharmacy, or tracking down your medical records, or making copies, that means I'm not doing real legal work on your case. At Snow & Carpio, we have 10 paralegals and secretaries who have as much as 30 years experience in the workers compensation field. This means that if you have an urgent matter, you don't have to wait for me to get out of court or answer 20 other phone calls to deal with it. It also means I have more time to spend meeting with clients and preparing their cases for court.
4. You want an experienced attorney, but not too experienced. I've always thought that the best doctors were the ones who had enough experience to have seen everything before, but not too much experience to where they don't stay current on new developments or are just going through the motions. I think the same is true for attorneys. Some attorneys are still handling their cases the way they were handled in the 1970's and haven't kept up with the times.
6. Get an attorney who is willing to change your doctor. One of the most effective things we do at Snow & Carpio is make sure our client is treating with a doctor that is more interested in their recovery, and less interested in saving the insurance company money. If your attorney lets you treat with Concentra, for example, or doesn't at least ask you if you feel comfortable with your treating doctor, you might need a new attorney.
There are many more things to look for. When looking for an attorney to handle your claim, you should meet with 3 or 4 attorneys and get a feel for who you are comfortable with. It is one of the more important decisions you will make.
Chad T. Snow is an attorney who handles exclusively workers compensation matters for injured workers in Arizona. He has offices in Phoenix and Tucson with his associates at Snow, Carpio, and Weekley.