Who to Choose and Who to Avoid
When you select an attorney, do not take the first one you talk with. Interview three or four and select the one you're most comfortable with. If you have trouble reaching an attorney before hiring them, chances are they'll be harder to contact once you sign the contract. The best attorney is one who doesn't throw out huge settlement amounts. Workers' compensation settlements are low compared to other types of personal injury amounts, such as car accidents, because the law determines much of the amount. In large degree, the total is determined by your disability rating. If an attorney doesn't warn you about these low settlement dollars, you should think twice about hiring them.
Avoid flamboyant attorneys and braggarts. Ask the attorney the percent of cases they settle with the insurer or employer versus those they take to court (an administrative law judge, the workers' compensation board, and higher courts) Ask how many workers' compensation cases they've handled in their career. Ask how long they've practiced in the Oregon Workers' Compensation system. Avoid attorneys and law firms who also represent insurance companies and employers. As an example, Kevin Mannix has represented some injured workers but overwhelmingly represents our opponents. You simply can't trust attorneys who represent both sides.
There is a rating system for attorneys that most state bars will provide. For references, also check local bar associations or professional organizations. Check your local legal aid society. You can sometimes get a listing of complaints from these organiztions. After the interview is a good time to get a rating.
Observing the attorneys in action can give you an idea of the lawyer you want representing you. See if they'll be in court any time soon. Also, do an Internet search of their name but keep in mind that rarely is an injured worker happy with their settlement as explained in the first paragraph.
Oregon law, the judge, or a court will determine what your attorney earns in your case. Many attorneys will want to settle early because they can earn much more per hour by doing so. We know of attorneys who put years into cases only to earn a few thousand dollars. In comparison, insurance companies can pay their attorneys whatever they want. Our state has, in effect, turned your own lawyer against you by limited their compensation.
Remember, attorneys have gone to school to learn how to impress and finagle Judges and Juries - and prospective clients. There are some good attorneys out there ...along with some very bad ones.
Read "How to Choose a Lawyer"