Sunday, September 29, 2013

Is Your Workers' Comp Lawyer Working for You?

Something happened in my practice this week that made me think about client relationships. A client of another Workers' Compensation lawyer contacted my firm. She was unhappy with her current attorney and wanted someone to take a second look at her case. I agreed to meet with her.

I met with she and her husband a few days later. She had suffered a severe injury a few months prior, and her friends and family told her that she needed to " lawyer up" as soon as possible. She then retained her first attorney. She had been paying him 12.5% of her benefits from the date she hired him.

I went through the details of the case. I took time to discuss her present status and what to expect in the future. This is not rocket science, just a matter of taking the time to listen , analyze and explain. She and her husband told me that this was the first time that they understood the process and knew what to expect in the future. They asked to hire me, and I gladly accepted the case. I am not charging them any fees on her current benefits. Rather we will charge a percentage of her permanent Award when she is declared stationary.

The first day of my representation, I handled two fairly simple issues that her prior attorney had ignored, and she was very happy.  Again, not rocket science....Just a matter of listening to the client and responding with action.

The prior attorney upset this client in the following ways:

  • He had been charging her attorney's fees but was doing no more than processing her checks.
  • He was not listening to her concerns; She explained that he acted like it was a bother when she called.
  • He had not taken the time to explain the process of Workers' Compensation, especially what happens in the future.
  • He did not act like he was working for her....She felt like she was working for him. Which is absurd.
When you employ a  lawyer, he or she is working for you. They have a professional obligation to handle your case to your satisfaction. If you are not satisfied, then you can do what I tell all of my clients; Fire your lawyer, even if it is me, and hire someone else that will  aggressively and assertively represent you in your case. Another option is to hire no one. I am always happy to discuss cases with anyone at no charge.

You have no obligation to be tethered to an attorney who is not a good match for your case. Usually, you owe the prior attorney nothing if you terminate him or her. There are some exceptions, but I find that one of the reasons that client's terminate prior attorneys is that they are " paying for nothing," as in the case I just detailed. However, I find that unhappy clients are often afraid to fire their lawyer. They feel somehow financially or legally obligated. This is simply not true. 

The client is the boss. Smart clients realize that and act accordingly.

BRIAN WEEKLEY is a Certified Specialist in Worker's Compensation Law with over 24 years of exclusive experience in Arizona Workers' Compensation law. He is listed in Best Lawyers and has an AVVO rating of 9.6/10. He has handled thousands of workers' compensation claims.
He can be reached at 602-532-0700 and

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