What to Expect in the Initial Consultation
The initial consultation is essentially a fact finding mission. We want to know about you as the injured employee. What’s relevant is the date of the accident, the mechanism of the accident, the body part affected. We want to know what kind of work you were doing. Other things that’ll come into play down the road include your age, education, work history, and current treatment status. We may want to know: “Are you a surgical candidate?” or “Are you in the middle of conservative treatment?” We can take all that information, and with fifteen years experience, have a discussion with you to what we think you can expect down the road, how we think this case will end, and the bumps that we think you’re going to have along the way.
Additionally, we’ll talk a little bit about the industry. Some people, for example, we’ll ask what your average weekly wage is. If somebody was on comp, we can do some quick math to see if that information is correct, because average weekly wage is one of the first things that you see done incorrectly. A lot times, insurance companies will pay somebody on an estimated average weekly wage, since they only have a certain amount of time to either pay or deny a claim once it’s received. Generally, those estimates are lower than the actual wages because they don’t want you to figure out they’ve overpaid you and try to recoup that money.
Sometimes, you need to push that agenda to get the information to establish the correct average weekly wage. One of the first things we always do is figure that out, to see if we need to demand that. We will talk about the medical treatment. A lot of people will call me up and say initially, “I wanted to go see my doctor.” The insurance company said, “No,” and they leave it at that. Well, we explain to them that that’s not the way it works. There’s a denial, but you don’t walk away from those aspects of the claim. There’s appeal processes. There’s filing for claims and asking for a judge to award those benefits.
The initial consultation is getting the information from the injured party, figuring out what their needs are, what the end of the case may look like, and answering those things in between. What we think are immediate issues or issues that will arise down the road.
How We Get Paid
Under Massachusetts law, the statute dictates how an attorney gets paid. What it dictates is that lawyers don’t take money upfront from an individual. Most of our clients are out of work, they’re not getting income. Realistically, these clients don’t have the money to pay an attorney. What the statute says, is the attorney gets paid one of two ways: Each time we go to court and ask for a benefit, if we prevail, the insurance company pays the attorney a fee under the statute, whether by agreement, at a conference, at a hearing. If you go to court and the judge doesn’t agree with what we’re asking for and there’s a denial of that, the attorney fee is not due. The employee is not responsible for that attorney’s fee. The other way we get paid is by way of the lump sum settle.
Under Massachusetts law, the maximum attorney’s fee is 20% of the lump sum. If somebody doesn’t have money to pay an attorney for a worker’s comp case, that’s common. The good news is, there are no fees due upfront, or at any time. We have never asked a client for money in regards to their comp case, because the statute provides the way we get paid.