This is what I do for injured workers who would like a free legal consultation:
First, I, or one of my experienced legal assistants, asks the injured workers a few pertinent questions to make sure that they have a Nevada claim, that they have already filed a claim, that they do not already have an attorney representing them, and that I can help answer their questions when they come in. I don’t have time to see everyone who calls me, and with some people, I know right away that I will not be able to assist them.
Secondly, if I schedule a free consultation, I ask the injured or sick injured worker to bring whatever paperwork they have pertaining to the claim. The more information I have when someone comes in to see me, the more accurate my recommendations are for their particular claim.
Consultations are scheduled for 45 minutes, but if the case is complex, we may take up to an hour to discuss the claim. I encourage injured workers to bring their spouse or significant other so that I answer everyone’s questions.
I listen to the injured worker tell me about how the accident happened, or how the occupational illness developed, and I read the paperwork available for my review. I then give an overview of Nevada law and the various benefits available. I talk about the roles of the insurance adjuster, and the employer, and the treating physician. I usually spend a lot of time discussing the medical care the injured worker is receiving as time limitations are very short for requesting change of doctors.
I identify potential problems the injured workers may not be aware of, and tell the injured worker what to expect, and what the options are if the claim doesn’t proceed as expected. Sometimes the injured worker hasn’t faced the prospect of not returning to their pre-accident occupation, and we spend time talking about retraining possibilities. I also explain how permanent partial disability awards are determined. I answer questions about what I do as an attorney for the injured worker, and whether legal representation is even necessary. I explain that I assist clients in obtaining the best possible medical care, that I make sure that benefits are maximized and calculated correctly, and that the client is aware of all benefits that are available. I personally go to clients’ rating evaluations, and I represent my clients should they ever need to reopen their claim for more medical care in the future. I also stay involved in the vocational retraining process, and I do not charge an attorney fee on a vocational rehabilitation lump sum buy-out unless that sum of money is part of a settlement of litigated issues.
All consultations are confidential regardless of whether the person ever hires me or not. No one is pressured to sign a representation agreement with me, as the consultation is truly free. If the person decides that they do need or want representation immediately, and I consent to be their attorney, we can have all necessary paperwork to hire me completed in about five minutes. I personally explain the representation agreement to every client. I propose fees based on what work I think I will have to do on the claim presently and in the future.
I do not mind if a person is shopping for an attorney and wants to have consultations with other attorneys before deciding to hire me. Who to hire for legal representation is an important decision. It is very difficult to change attorneys later, because attorneys generally do not get paid until the end of the claim. There are differences in what attorneys charge in Las Vegas, and there are differences in what attorneys personally do for clients.
Finally, I give all people who see me for a consultation, and any others who request it, a copy of the guide I wrote for injured workers on Nevada workers’ compensation law.