Yes, you can and it probably won't have any adverse effect upon getting a new lawyer since if you fire him/her for cause (and it sounds like you have good cause) then they don't get the full percentage any longer.
You can always retain new counsel. however, if your attorney is already receiving a percentage from your weekly check for work that they have done that will not stop. the new attorney would not receive a fee until he successfully defeated a challenge to your benefits. Under no circumstances would you ever pay more than 20%.
Valuation of a workers compensation case is dependent on several factors. Ultimately, a case is worth what the cariier is willing to offer and the claimant is willing to accept. Neither side can force the other to settle. if your attorney says your case is worth under 100K, he may be telling you that the carrier is unlikely to make an offer in excess of that figure. That could have to do with who the carrier is. For instance, SWIF tends to make relatively small settlement offers.
As for returning calls and dropping penalty petitions without your consent, both are unacceptable. Please call my office if you would like to discuss your case in more detail. I offer a free consultation and would love to discuss this matter with you.
Yes, you have the right to fire your attorney. When you fire one attorney and hire another, the two attorneys generally share the fee. In other words, you wouldn't end up paying more because you switched.
If you do not feel as though your attorney is looking out for your best interest, then there may be a problem. You should feel that your attorney is keeping you informed of changes in your case, as well as consulting with you before making major decisions. Also, you should be able to get a response from your attorney within a reasonable time.
There may be good reasons behind your attorney's decisions about your case, so make sure you ask for an explanation. Call the office and set up an appointment rather than trying to get a response over the phone.
If you need further guidance, give me a call. I would be happy to recommend an experienced workers' compensation attorney in your area -- someone who will fight for you. 1-800-807-9530.