It's no surprise that worker's compensation attorneys take on thousands of cases related to workplace injuries and accidents every year. However, if you suffer from a chronic, work-related disease or illness, such as mesothelioma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) or vibration white finger, obtaining proper workers compensation to help you deal with your new circumstances can be much more challenging.
With this in mind, you should choose your worker's compensation attorney carefully if you seek to bring a case to court relating to one of these chronic diseases. Since the consequences of your illness are likely to be far less obvious than, for example, a broken arm or leg suffered on the job, choosing an attorney that can argue your case effectively can be the difference between success and failure. Keep the following questions in mind when choosing a worker's compensation attorney, to ensure that you stand the best possible chance of getting the compensation and aid you rightfully deserve:
Does the attorney work primarily with employers or employees?
Although some larger law firms are capable of dealing with claims raised by both employers and employees, seeking out an attorney or firm that deals exclusively in employee claims is generally advisable. This ensures that no conflicts of interest are raised during the claims process, and means your attorney will have thorough experience in handling a wide variety of employee claims.
Does the attorney specialised in work-related disease claims?
Handling a worker's compensation claim related to work-related disease can be far more complex than handling a simple injury case. As well as the increased difficulty of proving that you are actually affected by the illness, chronic illness claims generally entail bringing in expert opinions from doctors, workplace safety inspectors and other professionals in order to prove your case conclusively.
As such, choosing an attorney who specialises in work-related disease claims is ideal. These attorneys have extra knowledge and experience when it comes to winning complex work-related disease cases, and will also have an established network of medical and legal professionals to call upon if third-party opinions and analysis is required.
Does the attorney specialise in your line of work?
By the same token, you should try to find an attorney who specialises in handling cases in your specific line of work. Attorneys with more wide-ranging briefs may not be fully familiar with the specific circumstances of your work that caused you to develop the illness, and may be less effective in arguing your case.
Choosing a specialised attorney is particularly important if you contracted a disease in a maritime setting, such as aboard an oil rig or cargo ship -- these cases generally require specialised knowledge of both maritime illnesses and admiralty law, and should be handled by attorneys specialising in these fields.
Does the attorney work on contingency?
An attorney who works on contingency will take a cut of your workers compensation if they win the case, but will not charge you any up-front fees and will not charge you a cent if the case is lost. As you can imagine, contingency-based pay is vitally important for the disease-affected worker, since being forced out of work by illness can put significant strain on your finances.