This week I met with a prospective new client who was at an emotional breaking point. Her L&I workers compensation claim for benefits was rejected, but she has a significant medical condition and currently cannot work. Because her appeal of claim denial was already before the Board of Industrial Insurance Appeals, she had consulted with a number of attorneys that declined to get involved. She had an upcoming conference, and the Judge had given her an ultimatum to either obtain representation or prepare to present her case pro se. Or in plain English, to represent herself.
It was impossible for me to make any informed recommendations and I really don’t know whether there is a medical basis for the allowance of her claim. This is a very difficult spot for me to be in, because unlike many other cases, it is difficult to apply proper judgement. However, when I told her I’d come on board to help satisfy the ultimatum and conduct some discovery in order to better advise her about her chances of prevailing, she broke into tears.
It made me realize that she truly had no support network and that I was her last hope for getting some help to navigate this situation. She had no one to help. Can you believe that? How can we foster better support networks for injured workers or disabled people, and how do we promote better access to justice?