I received a call the other day from a very panicked injured worker.  He had hired a Peoria workers’ compensation attorney who does a lot of TV advertising.   That’s what got him in the door to sign up with them.
Unfortunately, a somewhat inexperienced attorney handled this caller’s case and they went to trial.  They lost the trial and now the worker is stuck with all of his medical bills and no settlement or award for his injury.
He wanted me to appeal the case because his lawyer had withdrawn from the case that morning.  I declined to get involved.
When you appeal a case, as a lawyer we are stuck with whatever evidence was presented by the first lawyer.  We can’t call any new witnesses, ask you or anyone else any questions, submit medical records for review, etc.  In other words, we’d have to try to clean up a mess that we have no influence over.  Beyond all of that, almost 80% of appeals are denied.
So to get us or any new firm to take over a case once it’s gone to trial is just impossible.  We’d much rather focus our time on helping our clients that came to us in the beginning or before the point of no return.
This lawyer really screwed over my caller by withdrawing from the case.  If he lost the trial, he should have filed the appeal and tried to make it right.  But that firm is high volume and doesn’t appear to work that way.
Hopefully you don’t lose a trial, but if you do, I can assure you that unless you are willing to pay some appellate specialist by the hour, no work comp attorney I’ve ever met would take over someone else’s case.  Insist that your attorney file the appeal for you.  They might be terrible at their job, but the truth is that once you’ve gone that far they are really your only shot.

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By Michael Helfand