Questions & Answers
1. Does the lawyer or law firm specialize in Minnesota workers compensation?
Minnesota does not recognize a "specialty" in workers compensation but out of the few hundred lawyers that attempt to handle workers compensation, only a few limit their practice to work comp. These people are known affectionately as "comp heads". If you had a DUI would you trust a lawyer who handles a couple of DUI cases a year, in addition to drafting wills, handling personal injury cases and doing the occasional divorce? Then why would you want a lawyer whose website promises to handle you with any legal issue you may have or is a general "personal injury" attorney.
2. How many years has the lawyer been practicing law?
Experience matters. There is a prominent law firm that advertises on radio, television and the internet with approximately 4 lawyers. The firms "work comp lawyers" have a total combined legal experience of just over 10 years total. That's an average of 2.5 years each. They are very nice people, but if you've just sustained a work injury...would they really be the ones' to call? Who is supervising these lawyers? I don't think a workers compensation judge in our state would even recognize the lawyer whose last name graces the firm's letterhead if he walked into a workers compensation court. Another lawyer on the internet advertises himself as "The authority for workers compensation in Minnesota for more than 30 years". Really? Up until last year I had never heard of him and I know EVERY single workers compensation lawyer across then entire state of Minnesota...and they know me. Ask the lawyer; "How many years have you been licensed to practice law?" Next ask, "How many years have you been practicing exclusively workers compensation?" I have over 21 years experience practicing exclusively Minnesota workers compensation. If your lawyer doesn't have significant workers compensation experience RUN and find a lawyer who does. Experience matters.
3. Does the lawyer have experience as a defense attorney, insurance adjuster or even as an injured worker?
There are a few excellent lawyers who have only represented injured workers during their career. I would argue that in some cases, a lawyer with experience as a former defense attorney, workers compensation adjuster or one who has even sustained a contested workers compensation injury brings an entirely different perspective and skills to a case. Having been a defense attorney for nearly 15 years before opening my firm and limiting my practice to injured workers, I'm able to share secrets I have learned from the insurance companies. Why they deny claims, how the evaluate settlement, what are the weaknesses of their medical experts. Having sustained a work related back injury requiring surgery, I also understand first hand the fear and anxiety associated with work injuries. Experience matters.
4. Does the lawyer have a true team to support them?
Is your lawyer supported by his wife who answers his calls, sorts the mail and types the letters? Does the lawyer have employees with any relevant personal workers compensation experience? Does the lawyer even have a "team". Atkinson Law Office has investigators and paralegals with real relevant experience. One of our members is a former workers compensation adjuster with a specialty in construction related injuries. Another member has undergone 2 low back surgeries after falling off a ladder at her prior employer. Both attorneys Kerry Atkinson and Tom Atkinson are FORMER insurance company lawyers who know the secrets that insurance companies don't want you to know. Because we are often in court or depositions, our staff works as a team to assist you with answers to your questions. You are free to contact ANY of our staff to assist you should another member be unavailable at the time of your call. Our combined experiences have combined to create one of the most formidable workers compensation law firms in Minnesota. Experience matters.
5. Has the lawyer ever been disciplined?
Lawyers can make mistakes, but when they make serious mistakes they can be disciplined by the Minnesota Supreme Court. This link will assist you searching your lawyers background.