How and Why to Hire a Workers’ Compensation Attorney (Podcast)
Even if your boss has started to pay your workers’ comp claim, you should still consult with an attorney. In this podcast, Yolla Sabounji from the Law Office of Robert Frawley explains how an attorney can help you get a judge’s order. Then, she outlines how that safeguards your claim and ensures you get adequate compensation for your injuries. She also talks about the importance of hiring a firm with staff members who speak your native language.
John Maher: Hi, I’m John Maher. I’m here today with attorney Yolla Sabounji from the Law Office of Robert Frawley, a law firm in Lawrence, Massachusetts, serving clients in Massachusetts and New Hampshire with cases involving workers’ compensation, personal injury, and social security disability benefits. Today our topic is how and why to hire a workers’ compensation attorney. Welcome, Yolla.
Yolla Sabounji: Hi, John. Thanks for having me.
How Does a Workers’ Compensation Attorney Help?
John: Sure. Yolla, how could a Massachusetts or New Hampshire workers’ compensation attorney help me if I’ve been injured in my job?
Yolla: Oh, John, how can I count the ways? There are so many different ways that an attorney in workers’ compensation can help you. The laws are so intricate, there are so many of them. There are so many deadlines and statutes to follow that it’s really, really important to hire somebody who knows what they are doing, who specializes in workers’ compensation to really help you and get the most value for your case and truly get you what you deserve, the compensation that you deserve and that you’re entitled to.
I can’t tell you how many times we’ve had clients come in and they’re just frantic because they hired an attorney that did not specialize in workers’ compensation, but thought, hey, how hard could it be? And tried to file a claim for them and really messed it all up. Then, they came in with literally broken pieces and just said, “Please help me,” and we did. We put the pieces back together and got the claim to where it needed to be.
If you don’t hire an attorney who truly knows workers’ compensation inside and out, it could be a very scary situation. It’s already a difficult time in these people’s lives. They’re injured, they’re not making any money, and if you hire someone who doesn’t know what they’re doing, you could be in a very worse off place.
Considerations for Hiring a Workers’ Compensation Attorney
John: Right. Are there any other considerations that people should think of besides making sure that they hire an experienced attorney, one who works on workers’ compensation claims and has been doing that for a long time? Are there any other things that people should think about when they’re looking to hire a workers’ comp attorney?
Yolla: I think it’s important to be comfortable with your attorney. I’ve had many people come in to meet with me before they agree to sign up with our law firm. They’ve actually met with other attorneys and they tell me that, “You’re the one. You’re the one we’re going to hire. I’m comfortable with you.” I talk to people the way I would want someone to talk to me. I’m true. I’m honest, and people feel it.
I’m genuine, and our whole staff tries to be that way. They’re people, they’re humans, and it’s not just another case in our office. We know everybody by name and we like to help individuals. We don’t just take on another case, and I think that’s important. If you need to talk to a couple of law firms before you feel that you have talked to the right attorney, then do it. It’s sometimes necessary.
The Importance of Being Comfortable With and Confident About Your Attorney
John: You’re going through a lot. That’s a difficult time when you’ve been injured like that and you have a lot on your mind, you’re probably dealing with all of your medical issues too. The last thing you need is to be upset with your attorney, they’re not listening to you or that you don’t feel like you have a good relationship with them or something like that, so finding somebody that you’re really comfortable with is really important.
Yolla: Absolutely, John, I couldn’t have said it better myself. You summed it up perfectly. You’re already going through so much. You’re hurt. You don’t have income, you’re under so much stress. You’re in a place that you most likely have never been before, and having a good relationship with the one person that is supposed to be really working for you is so important.
Aside from the need of that person to know the law, you need to have a good relationship with that person because if you don’t feel like you can call the office at any time or send an email and ask what you think might be a silly question, you know what? It’s not a silly question. If you need an answer, just give me a call. Send me an email. I’m more than happy to help. That’s what I’m here for.
How Soon After the Injury Do You Have to File a Workers’ Comp Claim?
John: You mentioned that there’s deadlines if I’ve been injured. I don’t know if you find this, do people sometimes get injured on the job and then they try to work through it? They think like, oh, maybe it’ll get better. They try to work for a while and then they decide, oh, you know what? I don’t think I can work anymore because of this injury. How long does somebody have that they can wait before they have to file a claim?
Yolla: That’s not a hard and fast deadline. When you stop working is when you have to file your claim. We have plenty of people that have tried working through an injury, whether it’s a week or a month or three days or three months, whatever it is. There are people that have tried working through it.
They’ve gone to see the doctor, but they’ve decided that they’re going to try and work through it, whether it’s for income purposes or whatever. Then, the day they stop working, that’s the day they’re out of work based on their workers’ compensation claim. The date of injury would be the original date they got hurt, but their first day of disability would be the day they stopped working, so that changed-
John: You’re getting paid for your job up until that point, so you don’t need to get the workers’ comp if you’re getting paid for your job up to that point.
Yolla: Exactly. The date of the injury is important because that needs to be identified on all of the court documents, but then you put the date the disability began because that’s the day you stopped working.
Questions to Ask When Looking for a Workers’ Comp Attorney
John: Okay. You mentioned that I should talk to maybe multiple attorneys, try to find somebody that I’m really comfortable with, who has a lot of experience. What are some questions that maybe I should ask a workers’ compensation attorney before engaging with their law firm, some things that might help to suss out whether or not this is the right firm for me?
Yolla: You can ask them how long they’ve been handling workers’ compensation claims, how familiar they are with the process of workers’ compensation. Maybe ask them the percentage of workers’ compensation claims they have in their office. You could ask a simple question, like how do you feel about me emailing you random questions I think of? Just see their response. If they look at you funny, no problem, but they’re probably not a genuine helper.
Then, ask them, “If I call the office and you’re not available, is there somebody else that I can speak to?” You want to make sure that there’s always going to be somebody that can assist you. I think it truly comes down to those two major factors, their experience and your fit with them, whether you get along and you feel comfortable.
Importance of Hiring a Law Firm Fluent in Your Language
John: Right. I know that there’s a lot of people in your area that speak Spanish as their first language. How important would it be for people who speak Spanish as their first language to hire a firm who has a staff who’s fluent in Spanish?
Yolla: I think it’s extremely important, John, to have staff that speak Spanish. Our entire staff speaks Spanish from the receptionist back to the legal assistants all the way to me. I am fluent in Spanish. I also speak Arabic just for the record.
Yolla: Yeah, and it’s great because we can speak to the client directly. There’s no Google Translate, there’s no third party needed. The client calls and the client can talk directly to me or one of our staff members and get the answers they need in their native language. Even if they speak a little bit of English, we give them their information in Spanish so that they truly understand. That’s another connection. That’s another way for you to feel comfortable with your law firm.
I mean if you only speak Spanish and go to a law firm with a fully English speaking staff, it’s not going to make sense for you. You’re not going to be comfortable there because who do you talk to? Are you going to talk to your phone and have Google Translate to talk to your attorney or his or her legal assistant? It just doesn’t make sense. Our whole staff speaks Spanish. I mean our receptionist, the legal assistants, everybody in here speaks Spanish.
How an Attorney Who Speaks Your Native Language Helps Improve the Claims Process
John: Yeah, that’s really important. I think that if somebody only spoke with somebody who only spoke English, you’d never be quite sure whether or not you’re getting the right information from them. You’d never be quite sure, did I understand that exactly? Are they really doing their job for me? I imagine it would just be so hard for somebody who doesn’t speak the language of their attorney to just, yeah, really understand and know that the law firm is really working for them.
Yolla: Absolutely, I agree with you 100%. Here, Attorney Frawley doesn’t speak Spanish, but the rest of the staff does. He has a legal assistant that’s been with him for over 25 years. She translates for him as if she was a certified court translator. She is verbatim. It’s amazing and it really is, it’s phenomenal.
John: No information is lost when it goes to him. Yeah.
Yolla: Nothing is lost in translation. Nothing. If somebody is communicating with Attorney Frawley, it is one of the staff in here that is doing the translating, so we are sure that the notes that are going in the file are correct and we are confident in the information that our client is getting, and we’re confident in the information that we’re getting from the client. We’re not trying to understand. We’re not depending on Google to understand. We are getting the information firsthand and we are putting it in the file. I think that is-
How Attorneys Who Only Speak English Get Help From Bilingual or Multilingual Staff Members
John: When you get a statement in Spanish from a Spanish speaking client and then you take that statement and you put that, say, in the file, does that get translated into English so that if Attorney Frawley wanted to look at it, he’d be able to read the English translation?
Yolla: Yeah. Absolutely. Yeah. Oftentimes it’s not a statement that needs to be formally translated. Oftentimes if it’s notes for the file, we’ll just put a little summary paragraph on it so he knows what it is. If he sees a summary paragraph that looks like it’s what he’s looking for, then he asks one of the staff and it gets translated, I…
John: I need the full information of this one. Yeah, right.
Yolla: Exactly. Exactly. Instead of spending all that time fully translating multiple documents, we just put a summary paragraph and then only fully translate the ones that we absolutely need.
John: Right. Does Attorney Frawley have to work with you on every case or is it… I mean you’re an attorney, so in a lot of cases, you just handle all these things and Attorney Frawley doesn’t even have to deal with it at all, right?
Yolla: A lot of the cases that I have, Attorney Frawley doesn’t have to deal with, as with his cases I don’t have to deal with. At the same time, Attorney Frawley and I work very well together, so I am familiar with his cases and he is familiar with my cases. Attorney Frawley can go on vacation for a week and his clients are still taken care of. His court dates are covered. It’s very seamless.
Likewise, if I have to go away or if I go on vacation or whatever, Attorney Frawley covers all of my stuff and it’s seamless. Our staff is familiar with who is technically assigned to which file, but we know about each other’s files. We know where it’s at. We have a lot of files in the office, but Attorney Frawley and I keep tabs on everything.
John: Right. You’re really working together as a team.
Yolla: Absolutely. We started together 22 years ago roughly. I was Attorney Frawley’s secretary way back in the day, and then I went through law school while I was working for him, and now I’m back full-time as an associate attorney with him. It’s fabulous.
John: Nice. That’s great. That’s great.
Yolla: We’ve had a lot of experience working together.
John: Well, you definitely must work well together if you’ve been working together for 22 years. That’s great.
John: Yeah. All right. Well, that’s really great information, Yolla. Thanks again for speaking with me today.
Yolla: Thank you for having me, John. It was a pleasure. Contact the Law Office of Robert Frawley
John: For more information, you can visit the Law Office of Robert Frawley at frawleylaw.com or call 617-523-2929.