Things Clients Want to Know:
Q.: Why would I hire you as an hourly workers’ compensation attorney when I can have my third party administrator’s attorney cover my hearing for a one time flat fee?
A.: Every employer has multiple choices for representation at hearings. The benefit to having a lawyer attend a hearing are: 1) a lawyer may argue the law and 2) a lawyer may directly question the claimant.
Before I address the concerns, I want to emphasize that there are equally talented lawyers that practice both hourly and for a flat rate.
The issue for hearing is a good indicator of who you should select to represent you. If it is a hotly contested hearing, with factual and medical disputes, you would certainly want an hourly attorney that you have hired to do an extensive investigation of the facts and prepare a defense on your behalf. You have unlimited access to an hourly attorney, while typically you would have little or no contact with a flat rate attorney until the day or the day before the hearing. These same flat rate attorneys will not likely represent you in any post administrative court proceeding.
It is extremely beneficial to have an attorney represent you throughout the administrative level through to court if that case continues. Their assessment and observations of the claimant at hearing, as well as detailed administrative work-up are a great predictor of the likelihood of success in later court proceedings.
Hearing issues such as Permanent Partial Hearings require little to no legal argument and certainly no cross examination would best be served by using a flat rate attorney.
The benefit of paying an hourly lawyer is that you are retaining a lawyer that not only is intimately knowledgeable about your business, but you are retaining that lawyer for the overall cost containment of the claim. An hourly lawyer can make recommendations as to what they foresee is the next step the claimant may take in a claim and predict what the overall exposure on the claim can be.
Flat rate lawyers take multiple hearings in one hour and will only represent you at that hearing. They typically will not make recommendations for future cost containment, or even what further documentation would be needed at future hearings.
The choice of what kind of representation is a business decision, that depends solely on the circumstances for your business and the specific facts of the claim at hand.