I have a stress claim that was illegitimately denied. Workloads have increased at the State and I had an anxiety attack and didn't show up to work. I was dinged for showing up late, in addition to some other BS write ups they did before. I know they were looking to get rid of me. Luckily I found out online that they can't fire you if you file a Workers' Compensation claim so I did and it was denied! I found a doctor who said she would diagnose me with adjustment disorder, PTSD, heart condition and high blood pressure and I figured I wouldn't be disciplined. However that was not the case and I have continued to be stressed out and singled out. We went to Court and the state attorney set my case to trial on "AOE COE" next month. I'm looking for a lawyer who will take my case. It should be pretty easy. I've done all the work so far so for a reduced attorney's fee you need to represent me at trial.
Ah, no. Your case will be exceedingly difficult. And trust me, there is plenty of work yet to be done for you to have any chance of winning. Your attitude alone is enough to prevent a lawyer from giving you a fee discount up front, without even considering the difficulty of your case. You may want to re-think your approach to this.
This answer is intended as general information and not as specific legal advice.
Good luck. Virtually every time I am contacted by a prospective client and told it's an easy case it has turned out to be complicated. You should consider contacting a skilled trial lawyer and keep on open mind.
No one is likely to reach out to you to take your case. You need to search for some potential lawyers, call around and get a face-to-face appointment, then take in all your documents for a consultation. Any attorney would need to see the Pre-Trial Conference statement, which would have been prepared and signed by the judge at the MSC, and which would outline the stipulated facts, and disputed issues to be decided by the trial judge. It would also have a page that would list all of your documentary evidence or medical reports and any witnesses you intend to call. There would also be such a page with the Defendant's evidence. At the very least, a lawyer would need to see that, plus the listed evidence, to evaluate your case. Did you go to a panel QME? What did that doctor say?
In any event, if you feel you have done all the work and it is prepared right, I am curious as to why you want a lawyer now. Why not try it yourself.
As to getting a lawyer to represent you for a "reduced" fee, because it is an easy case and you have done all the work, I wouldn't count on that. While personal injury attorneys typically get contingency fees of 33% or more, in work comp, a judge usually won't award more than 15%. On top of that, since your case is denied, if you lose, you get nothing, and neither does your attorney. Since you are asking an attorney to risk getting no fees if the case is lost, don't be surprised if lawyers aren't lining up to take your case, especially if you don't even want to give them 15% if the case is won. On top of that, pure psyche cases are always difficult, usually don't amount to a lot of money, and since the evidence and witnesses are already locked in, a lawyer may not be able to direct the case in a way to improve your chances of winning at this point. I wish you the best of luck, but be prepared to be facing this one alone.
DISCLAIMER The contents of this answer are for informational purposes only and are not intended to convey specific legal advice regarding any issues. Transmission of the information contained in this post or any posts linked hereto is not intended to create, and receipt does not constitute, an attorney-client relationship. Attorney Gilbert Fisher practices law only in California and does not seek to represent anyone in any other jurisdiction. Readers should not act upon the information contained in this site without first seeking the advice of an attorney licensed to practice in your area. Readers take NOTICE: Making a false or fraudulent workers' compensation claim is a felony subject to up to 5 years in prison or a fine of up to $50,000 or double the value of the fraud, whichever is greater, or by both imprisonment and fine. Attorney Gilbert Fisher is a debt relief agency under federal law. Attorney Gilbert Fisher helps people file for bankruptcy relief under the Bankruptcy Code.
I suggest you go to the WCAB office where your trial will be and speak to an I&A (information and assistance officer) for free.
They usually have lists of qualified attorneys in that area. You may even want to request a continuance to get extra time to prepare.
In terms of the fee, an Aoe/Coe won't typically won't generate a fee, unless you are claiming lost wages. Attorneys only get a few off of money you make in PD or TD. Not sure how that will help or not help but going through the facts with a court appointed I&A officer.
My advice is do not go to trial without assistance. It sounds like you are very sophistocated, but the work comp system is tricky. You don't know who their witnesses are, what the will say, if you will cross examine them, how you will be cross examined, or if your evidence is admissible.
If they were dinging you to get rid of you, you better have a plan to document the dispute with doctor's notes, written letters and your efforts to communicate.
It's counterintuitive, but you can't just not show up to work bc of a stress injury without proper documentation from a doctor or the ER indicating you were unable to work because of the conditions. It would help if you had formal documents of the disputes....
It may be pretty easy, but your opposing attorney knows all the nuisances and tricks. A doctor's diagnosis is not a slam dunk. There are factual issues, procedures that need to be followed and reporting requirements.
My main question is what was the basis of the denial?
I don't mean to concern you, I just want to prepare you for potential issues that arise in psyche cases that are AOE COE....
If you want to post more details, I may be able to narrow down some of the issues
First of all there's no such thing as a "stress claim". Stress is a symptom of an industrial psyche injury. In order to prevail on a psyche claim, you have to establish that industrial factors were the predominant cause of your injury. that you have an actual injury, you have to score lower than 70 on the GAF score to get more than nothing and overcome a good faith personnel action defense which can wipe out your entire case.
From what you posted it sounds like a normal day at work for most people. It sounds like you're filing a Workers' Compensation claim to avoid discipline at work. That's not what the Workers' Compensation system is for. Since it's obvious that you didn't have a doctor's note before not showing up to work on time, I find it hard to believe any trier of fact would believe this was industrial.
Since you said you work for the state your recourse should probably be through your union. If you don't have a union, your recourse would be through a civil discrimination claim. You can't use Workers' Compensation to avoid the inevitable result of having to have a 9-5 job.
The above statement should not be construed as legal advice, does not create an attorney-client relationship, and is provided purely for informational purposes. You are advised to seek legal advice from an attorney and NOT AN UNLICENSED PARALEGAL SERVICE for any legal questions you have.
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