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Can I act as my own attorney in a Worker's Comp Case in California? Can I take depositions, demand copies, etc...?

Walnut Creek, CA |

I keep getting information that basically implies that I will need to act as my own attorney in a Worker's Comp case where after an MRI showed I would probably need surgery, the insurance company decided that I didn't get hurt at work.

Note: The employer has made statements to 3rd parties such as, "She probably hurt herself on purpose", "I'm not going to hurt myself financially just because she got hurt".

When I asked the employer to fill out the WC form the employer told me that she didn't have enough money to put into 'escrow' for the insurer and that my injury was going to cost her "a ton of money".

The insurance company is quick to send their own attorney to demand paperwork & deposition from me. I provided a 1hr+ recorded statement to the insurance company 2 months ago. <cont'd.>

I asked a question earlier about why I can't find an attorney & it sounds like I have to proceed on my own. I have not filed a case with the WC Appeals Board, but the insurance company's attorney is sending documents to them anyway. I have not received copies of anything from the insurance company (video tape, statements from employer, transcripts of my recorded stmt, etc...) I have obtained my medical records and made an appt with a QME. As my own attorney, how will I proceed to get copies of all the stuff that the insurance company has collected (the information they are asking of me now is stuff they already have. In fact, they have records, transcripts and video that I do not have copies of. Should I hire a document preparer to help me proceed? Should I go before a judge as soon as possible? Or should I just do what the insurance company's attorney "tells me to do" -- I don't trust them.

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Attorney answers 3


Go and consult with a local experienced Worker's Comp attorney SAP. There is no need for you to act as your own counsel and you should not. WC is a complicated, technical and demanding area of law and you will get flattened by the system without a lawyer.

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I have spoken to quite a few attorneys and none will take the case until I receive a positive QME -- see my last question:


The short answer is you can, but the longer answer is you should not. Even though I have handled PI cases for almost 25 years, I do not typically venture into WC cases because they have their own technical requirements and involve a group of attorneys and judges that speak an entirely different language than those of us on the civil PI side. In addition, as I understand it, the fees in WC are regulated by the applicable WC codes, so you're probably better off finding a reputable WC lawyer in your area and using his/her expertise to get the most out of your case.

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Thanks for weighing in on my question. The problem is I can't find an attorney because they say they'll probably never get paid. Ref.: my last question: I have spoken to quite a few attorneys and none will take the case until I receive a positive QME -- see my last question:


I don't know why you're having so much trouble finding an attorney. I had suggested to you in your earlier post that you call me for a referral. You haven't done that. Maybe you should!

In any event, yes, you can act as your own attorney in w.c. i don't recommend it but it can be done. you would have all the discovery tools available to you that all lawyers have. Whatever you do, do not just follow the advice of the insurance attorney. He is not your friend. He works for the insurance company and will do what he has to do to defeat you.