As readers of our blog know, employees have the right to seek workers’ compensation benefits if they suffer a work-related injury. But as many may not know, certain laws can conflict with this right and cause a person to lose access to their benefits. While a lawyer is often considered responsible for telling their client about these potential problems, a case in Charleston is showing that this doesn’t always happen and what issues this can create.
Originally, a class action lawsuit had been filed on behalf of South Carolina residents who had suffered work-related injuries due to asbestos exposure during the course of their employment. The class action was expected to cover some 14,900 people and was supposed to seek damages for the plaintiffs. But a group of South Carolinians say that instead of getting adequate compensation, their lawyers mishandled their case and made it so that they can no longer collect workers’ compensation benefits.
The loss of benefits was due in part to a South Carolina law that the plaintiffs say their lawyers should have known about. It requires an injured worker, who intends on filing a third-party claim, to file notification with the appropriate channels or risk losing benefits. According to the plaintiffs, at no time prior or during the class action were the plaintiffs informed about this conflicting law nor were they advised on how to avoid such a problem. They are now seeking damages once more, this time against the law firm they claim to have mishandled their case.
While this might paint a rather grim picture of legal representation for first-time visitors to our blog, it’s important to point out that this case instead demonstrates the complexities of the law and what can happen when that law is not fully understood. The hope now is that the situation gets resolved.
Source: Courthouse News, “Settlement Remorse After Worker’s Comp Loss,” Dan McCue, Feb. 28, 2014