It is not uncommon for an individual to discharge their current attorney and have our firm undertake representation in the matter. Who you choose for representation is entirely your choice. You are free to change attorneys at any time for any reason. Obviously, most people don’t change attorneys unless there is a reason to. The reasons why someone changes attorneys is often connected with a breakdown in the relationship with that attorney. We are often disappointed to hear about the bad experience someone had when being represented by another attorney or firm. Whether the representation was in regard to an auto accident, premises liability, other type of personal injury claim, or workers compensation claim, the reasons why the individual had a bad experience are typically similar. They felt there was a failure in regard to sufficient communication, lack of knowledge about their case, lack of preparation in their case, and generally that they expected more from their attorney. We place significant importance on the level of communication we have with our clients. We also monitor their treatment closely to ensure they are receiving consistent care in a timely manner. If you would like to contact our office for a free consultation, we can be reached at (727) 853-6275 or visit us at www.dolmanlaw.com.
When the person is describing a bad experience with a prior attorney who represented them in regard to a workers compensation claim, we are especially disappointed. Increased irritation exists because we often find that the reasons they were unhappy came about as a result of circumstances that were avoidable. Though we see such circumstances occur more often in workers compensation claims, please understand that an unhappy or dissatisfied client does not automatically mean their attorney did anything wrong. Simply being unhappy with your current attorney, or a prior attorney, is not sufficient to establish that your attorney did, or is doing, anything wrong. If the reasons for your unhappiness had nothing to do with how your attorney handled your case, we will be clear in explaining that to you.
Frustration when injured on the job is an emotion as common as the emotion of excitement would be to a child having a birthday party. Handling a workers compensation claim in Florida is not easy. As an attorney, you’re representing someone who was hurt, is in pain, is not receiving the benefits they’re entitled to from a workers compensation insurance company, is often in financial distress, and most likely did not have good experiences when speaking with the work comp adjuster.
Because of the difficulties and complexities of the work comp system, we find that attorneys do not always inform their clients about every option available to them in regard to ensuring they receive the full amount of every benefit they’re entitled to. For example, if you don’t believe the insurance company is sending you the correct amount in lost wages, there is a way to go about making sure they are. If you are being underpaid, we can also do what is necessary to recover all unpaid and underpaid wage loss benefits. If the amount is not paid timely, you will also be entitled to a 20% penalty on top of the amount you’re already owed in past due lost wage benefits. Researching this issue takes time, effort, and knowledge of the formulas used to calculate lost wage payments. Additionally, it often involves filing what is called a Petition for Benefits. We are entirely familiar with all applicable formulas and filing a Petition for Benefits.
If you disagree with the opinion provided by the doctor the work comp carrier authorized you to treat with, you have a few options. You can request a onetime change in physicians. If the change is not authorized in 5 days, you are entitled to select the doctor you wish to see. You can request an Independent Medical Examination. Your attorney can contact the doctor’s office and work on determining why the negative opinion about your injury was given. Though it is not always successful, there are ways of working on changing the doctor’s opinion. Doing the above on behalf of our client’s is routine. However, there is a reason why one of our slogans is, “Small Firm Attention. Big Firm Results.” Because doing the work involved in any of the above takes time and effort, the attorney representing the person injured on the job does not always do it. When the injured worker calls their attorney’s office to inform them of their frustration with a certain physician, we have clients who have told us that their attorney responded that there was nothing that could be done. Such an answer leaves the injured employee without any options. Are there times when it is actually true that “nothing can be done?” Yes. However, such circumstances generally only occur after time has been spent exhausting all other alternatives. If the circumstances were truly such that nothing could be done, as mentioned above, we are clear in making sure our client understands that fact. Though the laws do seem to be changing for the better, workers compensation insurance carriers are only obligated to provide certain benefits. Outside the benefits you’re entitled to, options available to someone injured on the job are limited.
PETITIONS FOR BENEFITS:
These are pleadings discussed a previous article that can be found by clicking here. A Petition for Benefits (“Petitions” or “PFB”) is the primary pleading filed in a workers compensation claim. The PFB is the pleading that initiates the lawsuit against the workers compensation insurance company. In regard to how we handle your workers compensation claim, a PFB is filed anytime a benefit you’re entitled to receive is denied, delayed, or otherwise not provided by the workers compensation insurance company. If the benefit is provided, then we will withdraw the Petition. We do not take a “wait and see” approach with regard to filing Petitions on your behalf.
In regard to how other attorneys go about filing Petitions, we have undertaken representation of individuals who discharged the attorney handling their case. Once you discharge your attorney by sending a letter informing them that you no longer wish for their representation, you are free to choose any attorney or law firm to represent you. If you fire your current attorney and they threaten you in any way about doing so, you should notify the Florida Bar.
In cases where an individual fired their attorney and we undertake representation, we review the court docket in the matter. We have found cases in which no Petitions were ever filed on the client’s behalf. Why would an attorney not file a Petition on behalf of their client? Because filing a Petition takes time, effort, skill, knowledge about the work system, and an awareness of recent court opinions interpreting the laws that govern the provision of work comp benefits. Furthermore, it means that the attorney will have to put in more work in handling that case. When we undertake representation, working hard is not just expected; it’s planned and prepared. Our level of diligence on behalf of our clients is one of the main factors that sets us apart from other firms. Some attorneys first undertake representation thinking, “how can I do as little as possible in this case?” Nothing could be further from the truth as far as our firm is concerned. A file is opened with a list of existing work to be completed directly in connection with the very initial opening of that file.
When a Petition is filed, the administrative branch of Florida’s government known as the Division of Administrative Hearings (DOAH), automatically schedules a State Mediation. With a State Mediation scheduled, an attorney who might not be competent enough to handle work comp claims is stuck in a position where they will be obligated to communicate with the workers compensation insurance company’s attorney and a State mediator. If that attorney isn’t willing to invest time to file the Petition or risk exposure for not being aware of the information necessary to provide competent representation, they’re not going to file a Petition in the first place. Some of these types of attorneys hope that their clients will become so fed up with the work comp carrier that they’ll ask their attorney to settle their case. The attorney, who has done nothing thus far, can then call the work comp carrier and determine whether they would offer an amount of money to close the claim. If the attorney didn’t do anything, doesn’t that mean that any settlement amount would be less? Absolutely! Why would someone agree to settle for less? Because they don’t know that more could’ve and should’ve been done. The Dolman Law Group hopes you never run into a situation in which you sustain an injury on the job. If you do, we certainly hope you retain the best representation. Call us today at (727) 853-6275.
Dolman Law Group
5435 Main Street
New Port Richey, FL 34652