Every month, a reader asks one of our sponsor legal experts about a work-related issue. These building trades law professionals respond in an Organized Labor exclusive. This month’s expert is Kevin Lancaster of The Veen Firm.

Visit the VEEN FIRM website.

After I got hurt at work, my friends and family told me I should get an attorney, but I’ve never been involved in a lawsuit before. How does one go about hiring an attorney? I have recommendations from friends and family, all the ads are overwhelming, and I don’t know where to start. How can I tell if I’m picking the right lawyer for my case?

Selecting an attorney to represent you is a lot like finding a doctor. The two biggest issues to address are: “bedside manner” and competence. Certainly, if you had to choose one over the other, I’d suggest competence. But you can find both.

Initially determine if the lawyer is a sole practitioner or works in association with other lawyers. Will several lawyers and other professionals work on your case? What specific experiences/cases have they handled that relate to your situation? Such as:

  • The defendant you are suing.
  • The product that injured you.
  • The legal issues in your case (statute of limitations, foreign corporation, multi-employer worksite).
  • Your physical injuries.
  • How many trials have they handled, and what is their success rate?

Litigating a civil case can be a long and stressful ordeal in which you interact with your lawyer and their staff frequently, and sometimes on short notice. That’s why you need to feel comfortable and assured that they are listening to you and providing you with the information you need. Meet the lawyers and other professionals who will be involved; ask them questions about their role; how often should you expect communication from them and other issues important to you. From this informational face-to-face meeting you should be able to get a feel for the team’s “bedside manner.”

The attorney fee is important to your overall recovery. Is it a “contingency fee” arrangement where the attorney only gets paid if you recover compensation? Who is going to advance the costs of suit and retaining experts? Are the costs advanced by the attorney deducted from your recovery before or after the fee is calculated?

Finally, you should determine if the lawyer is insured. Your diligence in finding competent representation should minimize the chances of you needing legal malpractice insurance because something has gone wrong, but you’ve already been injured, so no sense having a problem with your case injuring you a second time.

-Kevin Lancaster, Trial Team Leader; The Veen Firm, PC, San Francisco, CA

“Interaction via “Ask the Expert” does not establish an attorney-client relationship. Any advice given is neither legal advice nor does it serve as a replacement for hiring an attorney. In addition, any case results mentioned or discussed are not guarantees of similar results.”


This Month's Expert; Kevin Lancaster

Mr. Lancaster joined The Veen Firm, PC in 1984 and since has litigated more than 30 product liability cases, including industrial products, tools, and machines. Mr. Lancaster typically represents individuals who have suffered catastrophic injuries, including union, non-union, construction, and agricultural workers. He has served on the OSHA Advisory Committee and has spoken before the CA Senate Committee on Labor and Industrial Relations about issues of concern to injured workers.

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