When Do I Need a Disability Lawyer?
A disability lawyer can help you in many varied legal situations. Several laws protect people with disabilities from discrimination and ensure appropriate services. The laws apply in different situations and circumstances, including education, employment, public spaces, transportation, housing, and more.
If someone violates your right as guaranteed by one of these laws, you need a disability lawyer to help you file a claim, file a lawsuit, or get services or accommodations. Some examples of situations that require a lawyer include:
- You have been denied social security disability.
- You have been denied disability benefits through an insurance policy.
- An apartment or landlord, educational institution, or employer discriminated against you because of your disability.
- You do not have appropriate access to public transportation or a public space.
- Your child is not receiving needed special education services.
- You have lost out on a job or a promotion you are qualified for because you have a disability.
- Your employer has not provided reasonable accommodations for you.
- A medical center or hospital does not accommodate your disability, resulting in inadequate care.
- You have been denied a medical leave of absence.
What Can a Disability Lawyer Do for Me?
Navigating the maze of disability rights, laws, and benefits is not easy for non-lawyers or even for lawyers without the right expertise. Federal, state, and local laws apply and span education, civil rights, employment, and other areas.
A disability lawyer can help you in several ways:
- Explain your rights.
All the laws that come into play in disability cases can be maddening if you have never studied law. A disability lawyer can explain what they mean regarding your rights, benefits, services, and legal actions you can take.
- Appeal a denial of benefits.
You do not generally need a lawyer to seek disability benefits, but if the government or insurer denies your claim, a lawyer can help you appeal. If it comes down to it, they can also file a lawsuit to help you get the benefits.
- Rectify a case of discrimination.
If you have experienced discrimination because of your disability, a lawyer can help you resolve a dispute. They can negotiate a settlement on your behalf and litigate in court if it comes to do that.
- Ensure you receive services.
Depending on your disability and unique situation, you may be entitled to government benefits. Your lawyer can help you determine which you qualify for and make sure you get them. If you have a disabled child, they can find services and ensure they get the right special education services.
- Help you get accommodations.
People with disabilities are entitled to reasonable accommodations at work, in school, and in public spaces. If you are not being accommodated, your lawyer will fight to make it happen.
How to Find the Right Disability Lawyer
Disability lawyers usually specialize in all areas of disability law, while some focus on specific areas, such as discrimination or social security disability. Search for a firm or lawyer with experience handling disability cases, either of all types or for your specific area of need.
You may be able to get a referral from someone you know with disabilities. Your local advocacy or community groups for the disabled may also have a network of trusted lawyers to refer. If you have worked with a lawyer for other reasons, ask them for a trusted disability lawyer.
It’s important that you select someone who has relevant experience. Not only do they know the laws and have expertise in disability cases, but they know how to work with people with disabilities. They should be caring and sensitive to your needs.
What Should I Ask My Disability Lawyer?
Most lawyers offer a free initial consultation, which gives you a chance to interview lawyers and firms to make the best choice. Don’t settle for the first lawyer you meet. You have every right to talk to a few before making that decision. Ask important questions when meeting with disability lawyers:
- Have you worked with someone with a disability like mine?
- Have you handled similar cases? What kinds of disability cases do you have experience with?
- What were the outcomes of those cases?
- Do you have references from clients?
- What would you recommend doing first in my case?
- Do you think I need to file a lawsuit?
- What do you think I can recover in damages?
- How long should this process take?
- Will you be primarily handling my case?
- What are your fees, and how does payment work?
How to Work with Your Lawyer
Working effectively with a lawyer will give you a better outcome, which means being open and honest with them. The attorney-client privilege means they cannot use or share the information you give them without permission. The more your lawyer knows about the situation, the better they can advise and help you.
Ask questions and insist on being kept up to date on your case, but understand that your lawyer has other clients as well. They should be available to you but not necessarily around the clock or at a moment’s notice. A disability lawyer can be a great ally and advocate when your rights are being violated, but remember that it is a partnership. They need your honesty and cooperation to do their best for you. With the right lawyer, you can resolve your situation and get the services you deserve.