Cases dismissed for lack of prosecution. Showing up for court harried, overworked, and unprepared. Redying witnesses moments before the hearing. Withdrawing cases in an effort to judge shop. Conducting medical depositions without having reviewed the file. Performing inept cross-examinations that were not prepared in advance. Writing hurried briefs that do not accurately or cogently summarize the evidence. Selling out clients.
These are among the most common complaints about workers’ compensation mills, where lawyers are more interested in generating fees than representing their clients.
A reputable work injury attorney from Philadelphia should avoid presenting testimony from any witness who has not been prepared at least one day in advance and should have all questions ready in advance, including cross-examination. Medical testimony is most effective when the lawyer arranges all records in chronological order and forwards them to the physician well in advance of the deposition. Lawyers should prepare talking points for the preparation of the doctor and discuss anticipated cross-examination.
Unfortunately, lawyers at the legal mills care about one thing only and too often “wing it”, rather than taking these basic steps necessary to ensure their clients’ well-being.
Lazy Lawyers Phoning It In
Medical evidence in Pennsylvania workers’ compensation cases usually must be done in a formal deposition at the doctor’s office with opposing lawyers and a court reporter. At a deposition, one lawyer presents the testimony of the witness and the other cross-examines. Anyone with a Pennsylvania workers’ compensation claim (or personal injury case) has the right to expect that his or her lawyer will be well-prepared when presenting testimony from expert witnesses or cross-examining experts hired by the insurance company.
The inexperienced and rushed attorneys at many of these firms “wing it” when presenting testimony from their clients’ physicians, doing little more than having the doctor repeat comments made in medical reports. Cross-examination of insurance company doctors is even worse. Lawyers in these mega-firms do not leave their desks, cross-examining doctors by phone while the lawyer representing the insurance company is physically at the deposition.
The lawyer has no way of knowing whether the defense attorney is providing signals to the doctor. If he wished to do so during a telephone deposition, the defense attorney could press the “mute” button while the doctor looks through medical records, coaching the doctor with advice on how to answer questions.
Another common issue with legal mill lawyers is that they do a lousy job cross-examining these doctors. Many insurance company doctors have terrible reputations. The judge, however, has to base his or her decision on the facts of the case. If the attorney does not ask the insurance company doctor about the hundreds of thousands of dollars he earns every year working for insurance companies, the judge will not have that evidence available to explain why he or she found the insurance company physician to be not credible.
In other words, you can hire a lawyer who takes your case seriously or you can hire one who literally “phones it in.”
Rich Law Firm, Poor Representation
Another one in a long line of complaints about Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation legal mills is that lawyers handle your case like a product on an assembly line. There have been instances when people hire one attorney, only to be handed off to someone who is young, overworked, and inexperienced.
Too often, legal mill staff members would instruct claimants to testify at a hearing, with no explanation about what they will be testifying about or even what to expect. After a sleepless night, the nervous witness meets their lawyer for the first time.
Similarly, there’s an instance where a claimant met the attorney who was handling his case for the first time – on the morning of the hearing. Although she appeared to be smart, it quickly became apparent that she had not read the file.
There Is No Substitute For Experience
While speaking with a severely disabled client recently, we realized, once again, just how important experience is. We had asked her a few days earlier to think about the ways her disability affected her. She spent a few days thinking about it and then we interviewed her.
She had extreme difficulty explaining the ways her condition and multiple surgeries interfered with her normal activities of daily living. The “new normal” prevented her from explaining how her plight had disrupted the lives of her and her family. We knew right away the questions that needed to be asked, and in half an hour we had a concise, if harrowing, description of the way her life had changed.
Twenty-five years ago, it would have taken me days to put this together because we simply would not have known the questions to ask. After years of talking to people and finding out the ways that their lives have been affected by misfortune, we know what they’re going through.
This kind of experience can’t be taught to a young lawyer, no matter how hard you try.
Where can I find an experienced work injury attorney near me in Philadelphia?
Beware of any firm that claims to be “the best law firm in America.” If you need to put food on your family’s table, you need to hire a lawyer who will provide you with solid, continuous representation throughout your case.
In Philadelphia, you can find that kind of lawyer at Liberty Bell. Our team comprises honest, hard-working, and experienced attorneys, with a well-developed reputation for integrity with judges and extensive knowledge of the work comp system in Pennsylvania.
Representation by our lawyers can mean all the difference for your case, giving you the best chance of securing a favorable outcome and the maximum premiums that you deserve. Reach out to us today via phone or chat platforms, or schedule an appointment at our offices near JFK Plaza for a free consultation.