I received a call from a guy recently who was injured at work, and already represented by an attorney. He wanted to know if I could help him. He was an assembler of automotive products that required multiple steps, basically lifting objects all day long weighing 15-25 lbs, with arms outstretched. He injured his shoulder due to the highly repetitive nature of his job, over a course of maybe 4 months. An MRI showed he had a partially torn rotator cuff, which needed surgery.
He had been out of work for 3 months without receiving any workers' compensation benefits. His company refused to pay for his surgery. He complained to me that his current workers comp attorney was waiting for his company to decide whether to pay him any benefits.
I'm not in the business of taking cases from other attorneys, but I couldn't understand what this guy's attorney was "waiting for". 3 months is a long time for someone to go without income. So I said that if he wanted to switch workers comp attorneys, I would take over his case. Under the law, when I am successful in obtaining benefits for him, I will have to pay the former attorney for the time he spent on the case. Even though he didn't seem to accomplish anything of benefit.
Sometimes you can tell when a person is just getting the shaft. Some guys can go through their whole lives drawing the short stick. Waiting is neither an option nor a solution. You gotta be ready to fight.
There are certain things required to win any workers' compensation case: obtaining all medical treatment records; getting an opinion from a doctor linking an injury to employment; setting the case for trial sometimes over objection of defense counsel; sometimes fighting with the arbitrator as to why this case has to be heard on an expedited basis.
So 2 weeks into the case I have the medical records, I have the doctor's deposition scheduled for next week (at which he will state his opinion that his patient's job caused his rotator cuff tear and need for surgery), I have supplied the doctor with a short video depicting job details as a basis for his opinions, I have reviewed at length with my client what will be expected of him at trial, I have had discussions with defense counsel in which I have let him know that I will proceed to trial as soon as possible.
My client is happy that he sees his workers compensation lawyer finally working for him. I like him, but find he is too grateful for my effort before he starts receiving his benefits. That will come. Just not as soon as I'd like.