Accidents at work happen more frequently than most of us realize and can often result in considerable pain, suffering and the loss of income for employees. Indeed, the International Labor Organization (ILO) reports a staggering 374 million workplace accidents happen every year – with an equally astounding and regrettable 2.78 million deaths caused as a result.
The financial figures are similarly eye-watering. The ILO also suggests workplace accidents and diseases cost in the region of $3 trillion per year globally. Also, The Global Wellness Institute published a recent report (entitled The Future of Wellness at Work) reporting that, in the US alone, work-related injuries and illnesses account for $250 billion worth of care while the cost of stress at work is estimated at around $300 billion annually.
The problems caused by workplace accidents are very real and can affect all of us, at any time.
Important questions to ask your prospective lawyer
If you’re involved in an accident at work that wasn’t your fault, you should seek legal advice and representation. However, when hiring a lawyer, there are some important questions you should ask before engaging your potential legal team:
Have you handled this type of case before? You must find a lawyer with a strong track record in handling workplace accident cases. You will also want to find someone that understands the complexities of this area of the law – plus the physical, emotional and financial hardships you may have endured as a result of your accident.
Do you have any conflicts of interest? Your lawyer should, under law, express any potential conflicts of interest they might have with your particular case e.g. previously representing someone else from your work. A conflict of interest could adversely affect the outcome of your case, so it’s essential you check.
What is the strategy for my case? Going to court is expensive for all parties so you should discuss with your lawyer potential alternatives. Many work accident cases can be settled out of court – but you should always discuss all options and likely timescales with your solicitor.
How will you bill me? You must get a clear idea of how you’re going to be charged before engaging the services of a lawyer. You need to know whether you’ll be billed a flat fee or an hourly rate. If hourly, you should also ask who else will be working on your case and whether they charge at the same rate. You should also get an itemized receipt when they finally come to bill you.
How long is my case likely to take? Linked to your billing queries above, it’s essential to be given an estimate for how long your case will take. Even though it can sometimes be difficult to give an exact evaluation how long proceedings might last, your lawyer should nonetheless be open, upfront and honest with how long the action might take – and what you can expect to pay.
What do you think is the probable outcome of my case? A skilled lawyer should have worked on multiple cases (at least similar in nature to yours) so should be able to offer a range of probable outcomes based on his experience of other previous actions.