Meeting with an attorney for any reason can be stressful, especially the first time around. Here are a few thoughts on how to get ready for your first meeting with an Oregon Workers' Compensation attorney.
In the past 20+ years, we have visited with hundreds of injured workers. Sometimes, the potential client arrives with a large box or file folder in hand, having been in the workers' compensation system for some time. Other times, people show up with not a shred of paper, but many questions. Here are a few thoughts on how to prepare for your first meeting with the workers' compensation attorney.
1. If You Have Documents, Bring Them
I can usually figure out the issues you are facing with your workers' compensation claim with a few documents. However, the more documents you are able to bring to the meeting, the better I am able to let you know where you stand with the case. Don't worry if the documents are not neatly organized. I have been rifling through claims files for many years, and have gotten pretty good at getting to the meet of the matter.
Probably the most important documents an attorney will need to see our claim denial notices, or a Notice of Closure. These documents will advise you and your attorney on the status of the claim, and more importantly, the time limits involved for filing appeals or requests for review.
2. Tell The Whole Story
Oregon Workers' Compensation is confusing. There is nothing to be embarrassed about if you are not able to give a blow-by-blow description of every issue on the case. However, it is important that you tell the whole story of your claim. Many times, a work injury may have made a prior medical condition worse. If you have prior injuries or medical problems, it's a good idea to let your attorney know about those issues so that he or she can plan accordingly.
3. Upcoming Hearing Dates
From time to time, we will receive calls from an injured worker who has requested a hearing on his or her own, and is literally weeks away from a hearing date. That is usually okay. The Workers' Compensation Board Hearings Division will often allow a postponement of the hearing date so that we can obtain a copy of your file, review it, and let you know about the issues on your case. However, if you have requested review of a denial of any kind, and want to talk with the lawyer, it's better to make an appointment sooner than later.
4. Don's Worry About Attorney Fees
Oregon's Worker's Compensation system is highly regulated. Attorneys that represent injured workers can only earn a fee if the attorney is "instrumental" and getting you and increased benefit, or overturning a denied claim, or denied benefit. All fees must be approved by someone at the State of Oregon, whether it be an Administrative Law Judge, or an agency official. This gives you access to an attorney without having to worry about coming up with a retainer fee.
If you have been injured on the job in Oregon, and have questions about the workers' compensation system, contact us at 503-325-8600. We are happy to meet with you, and help you figure out where you stand with your claim. We handle claims in the Astoria and Portland area all the time.