If you decide that you want to hire an attorney for your workers compensation claim, you should first interview a few to see who you like. It is important to feel comfortable with the attorney and be able to communicate with him or her.
When interviewing attorneys, you will want to know how long they have been litigating workers compensation cases, what kind of associations they belong to, whether they take continuing legal education, whether they have malpractice insurance and what their fees are.
In workers compensation cases, the attorney is allowed to charge a maximum of $300 for services in a consultation.
If the attorney accepts the case, he may require you to post litigation costs. Otherwise, his fee will be paid when the Board enters an order determining whether the employer or the employee should pay the fees. Usually the employer is required to pay the fees.
Never consult or hire someone who is not licensed to practice law in the State of Alaska. There are people who claim to be paralegals or some other kind of legal professional but they have not gone to law school, have not passed the bar examination, are not regulated by the Bar Association and do not carry malpractice insurance. If they give you bad advise or make a mistake in your case, you have no recourse against them.
By hiring an attorney licensed to practice law in the Alaska, you have the comfort of knowing that they are required to take at least 3 hours of ethics classes per year, that they are governed by the Bar Association and should have malpractice insurance. In the event that something goes wrong, you can file a compliant with the Bar Association and/or file a malpractice suit against them.
By hiring an experienced attorney, you have the comfort of knowing that, in your best interests, that person in considering the ramifications of every action taken or not taken which can be particularly important in proper documentation of the claim, negotiations, settlement and timely prosecution of the case. People who do not practice law do not have this experience.
Finally, practicing law without a license is a crime. It should be reported to the Alaska Bar Association and to the District Attorney’s Office.