Attorney Negligence and My Workers Compensation Claim

While it can be exceedingly difficult for an injured worker to switch the attorney handling his or her Nevada workers compensation claim during the regular course of the process, it is possible in some circumstances. However, there are times when switching to another lawyer can be too late to do any good, resulting in the injured worker suffering for the lawyer’s negligence. The Supreme Court of Nevada has ruled that attorney negligence is not a valid reason to conduct another hearing. For this and other reasons, it is very important for an injured worker to choose a legal representative that he or she can trust to provide proper legal representation.

Difficulty in Changing Lawyers

If an injured worker feels it necessary to hire the assistance of a lawyer for his or her workers compensation claim, it is important that the worker take advantage of any free initial consultations offered in order to choose the lawyer that will best represent the case. Once an agreement has been signed between the injured worker and the lawyer, it can be very difficult to find another lawyer willing to help if the first lawyer does not do a good job. While it is possible to find another lawyer to handle the case during certain points in the process, there are times when it is simply too late to hire another attorney. Once a decision has been reached at a hearing, there is no chance for another hearing with a new lawyer if the first lawyer’s negligence did not bring about the results desired by the injured worker.

Appealing Due to Attorney Negligence

It might seem only fair that an injured worker be able to appeal a hearing decision that resulted in a negative outcome for the worker if his or her lawyer’s negligence was the reason for the results. While an injured worker can decide to file an appeal regarding a decision for his or her Nevada workers compensation claim, it is unlikely that another hearing will be granted if the request for a new hearing is based on actions, or lack of actions, of the worker’s attorney. The Supreme Court of Nevada has already made a determination on this issue in a 2009 decision.

Nevada Supreme Court Decision

The case in question is referred to as Garcia v. Scolari’s Food & Drug. The injured worker, a woman named Kathy Garcia, had arm and shoulder pain that she believed was made worse from her work duties. She filed a workers compensation claim in order to obtain medical treatment for the issue. Several medical reports did not make a connection between her occupation and her painful conditions, though one physician did agree that Ms. Garcia’s job duties did indeed aggravate her symptoms. Based on the medical information provided, the claim was denied.

Ms. Garcia, with the help of a lawyer, appealed the denial. Her testimony was the only evidence used. The Appeals Officer provided Ms. Garcia additional time before making a decision so that her lawyer could provide additional information to help in her case. At this point in time, her attorney had documentation of Ms. Garcia’s injuries as well as documentation from another physician linking the injuries to her employment. However, even with the additional time granted by the Appeals Officer, Ms. Garcia’s attorney did not submit this documentation. The Appeals Officer upheld the denial of benefits based on the information already submitted.

Ms. Garcia filed for judicial review, claiming that the Appeals Officer’s decision was not correct because it was not made with all relevant and available evidence. The District Court denied her request to provide the additional evidence, as she did not have good cause for not presenting the relevant information in the first place when she had the opportunity during the administrative hearing. The case was referred to the Supreme Court of Nevada.

Ms. Garcia’s claim is that her lawyer was negligent and that she trusted her lawyer to provide all of the relevant documentation for her case. In addition, Ms. Garcia claimed that she did not know that her lawyer had not sent in the appropriate documents until she received the decision from the Appeals Officer. The Supreme Court found no “good reason” as to why the appropriate documents were willfully withheld by Ms. Garcia’s lawyer, and that the lawyer’s negligence is not a valid reason for a new hearing.

Experienced Workers Compensation Attorney

Injured workers do not need to leave their workers compensation cases to chance with the assistance of a qualified and experienced lawyer. Bighorn Law can help injured workers through every phase of the process for the legal representation that the worker is entitled to receive.

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