Obtaining a Lawyer

Workers' Compensation Cases and Legal Advice

A workers’ compensation case is a legal proceeding. The decisions you make regarding your workers’ compensation case may impact you for the rest of your life. Workers’ compensation was originally designed to be a simple no-fault benefit system. Many workers’ compensation cases are still handled routinely without problems. However, the law has been changed many times over the years, and each change makes cases more complicated. Issues involving Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, unemployment benefits, and Second Injury Fund claims also complicate many cases. While you are not required by law to have a lawyer, you may need a lawyer. Most employers and insurance companies are required by law to have a lawyer present at all docket settings before the Division of Workers’ Compensation, so in most cases you will have to speak with the workers’ compensation insurance lawyer at one or more times before your case is concluded.

Please keep in mind that neither the Administrative Law Judge assigned to your case nor any employee of the Missouri Division of Workers' Compensation can give you legal advice or act as your lawyer or adviser.

return to top

In What Situations Should I Consult a Lawyer?

You have the right to consult with a lawyer, or have a lawyer represent you, at any step in the process. Here are some situations in which a lawyer may be needed:

A lawyer is almost always needed, when:

return to top

How Do I Find a Good Workers’ Compensation Lawyer?

As you have discovered, workers’ compensation is a complicated and specialized area of law. You want to find a lawyer who regularly practices workers’ compensation law and understands the law thoroughly. It is always best to talk to friends, family members and co-workers who have had workers’ compensation cases and had lawyers who they were pleased with. If you are a member of a labor union, your union should be able to help you find a good attorney. You can also contact:

return to top

How Can I Afford a Lawyer?

You do not need money to talk to a lawyer about your workers’ compensation case, and you do not need money to hire a lawyer to represent you in your workers’ compensation case. Attorneys who regularly practice workers’ compensation law offer free initial consultations. Attorneys who regularly practice workers’ compensation law will take your case on a “contingency fee” basis, meaning that they will be paid on the basis of a percentage of the money they obtain for you in the case.

return to top

What If I Wish to End My Relationship with My Lawyer?

If you do terminate your relationship with your lawyer, your lawyer may file a request for an “attorney’s lien” on your workers’ compensation case. This means that he or she is requesting to be reasonably compensated for the work he or she has done on your behalf, at the conclusion of the case. The request for an attorney’s lien does not necessarily mean that the lawyer will receive everything he or she is asking for. If the issue of your former lawyer’s reasonable compensation cannot be worked out amicably, the administrative law judge can decide how much, if any, of your settlement or award your former lawyer is entitled to.

Usually, if you terminate your relationship with your lawyer, you will hire a different lawyer to finish handling your case. Usually your new lawyer will work out the issue of your former lawyer’s compensation at the earliest possible time.

The Division of Workers’ Compensation cannot get involved in disputes between you and your lawyer. However, if you feel you need assistance in resolving such disputes, you may contact:

Fee Dispute Resolution
The Missouri Bar
P.O. Box 119
Jefferson City, MO 65102
Telephone: (573) 635-4128

St. Louis: Fee Dispute Resolution
Bar Association of Metropolitan St. Louis
720 Olive Street
Suite 2900
St. Louis, MO 63101
Telephone: (314) 421-4134

Kansas City: Fee Dispute Resolution
Kansas City Metropolitan Bar Association
1125 Grand Ave.
Suite 400
Kansas City, MO 64106
Telephone: (816) 474-4322

return to top

DISCLAIMER - More Information

The Injured Workers section of the Workers' Compensation portion of this web site is targeted specifically to injured workers and is intended to be a resource throughout the workers' compensation claim process. It is NOT intended to be a substitute for legal representation.

Employers seeking information about the workers' compensation process and their responsibilities regarding workers' compensation should use the Employers section of the Workers' Compensation portion of this web site to find information targeted specifically to them.

Additional information about Missouri Workers' Compensation laws, the Division of Workers Compensation, the Second Injury Fund and more may be found via the Workers' Compensation home page.

Please keep in mind the information specialist cannot act as your legal counsel and cannot give you legal advice. The information specialist can provide you with general information but cannot advise you whether the settlement offer is appropriate for your injury.