Lazy Lawyers Phoning It In

Greg Boles
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Partner at The Boles Firm | Experience Matters

I am amazed at what I'm hearing about the way many cases are handled at "assembly line" Philadelphia law firms. 

Medical evidence in Pennsylvania workers’ compensation cases usually must be done in a formal deposition at the doctor’s office with opposing lawyers and a court reporter. At a deposition, one lawyer presents the testimony of the witness and the other cross-examines. Anyone with a Pennsylvania workers' compensation claim (or personal injury case) has the right to expect that his or her lawyer will be well-prepared when presenting testimony from expert witnesses or cross-examining experts hired by the insurance company.

The inexperienced and rushed attorneys at many of these firms "wing it" when presenting testimony from their clients’ physicians, doing little more than having the doctor repeat comments made in medical reports.  Cross-examination of insurance company doctors is even worse.  Lawyers in these mega-firms do not leave their desks, cross-examining doctors by phone while the lawyer representing the insurance company is physically at the deposition.  The lawyer has no way of knowing whether the defense attorney is providing signals to the doctor.  If he wished to do so during a telephone deposition, the defense attorney could press the “mute” button while the doctor looks through medical records, coaching the doctor with advice on how to answer questions. 

I'm also hearing that these lawyers do a lousy job cross-examining these doctors.  Many insurance company doctors have terrible reputations.  The judge, however, has to base his or her decision on the facts of the case.  If the attorney does not ask the insurance company doctor about the hundreds of thousands of dollars he earns every year working for insurance companies, the judge will not have that evidence available to explain why he or she found the insurance company physician to be not credible. 

You can hire a lawyer who takes your case seriously or you can hire one who literally “phones it in.”   

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