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Claimant's case raises questions of incompetent representation

A construction worker in one American state suffered on-the-job injuries at a worksite a couple years ago and expected to receive workers' compensation benefits as a result.

His claim was denied.

Not willing to settle for that result, the employee took the matter to arbitration. He claimed that the denial was in bad faith and that his employer had unlawfully retaliated against him for pursuing an injury recovery.

He lost in that venue. The arbitrator's ruling cited a material flaw in the matter that led to an adverse finding, namely, that the worker failed to produce any witnesses that could speak to either the claimed injury or company retaliation.

That did not end the matter. Instead, it merely pushed it to a next-stage level, with the construction worker recently filing a legal malpractice claim against the attorneys who had represented him in the arbitration.

The plaintiff's claim: His case was fatally undermined by his legal team's failure to responsibly follow through after he had supplied his advocates with the names of material witnesses in the case. The claimant's malpractice filing also alleges that the attorneys never objected to evidence cited against him in the case that was legally inadmissible.

Although a media account discussing the case lacks details concerning witness availability and would-be testimony in the matter, a general point can certainly be made concerning the denial and subsequent malpractice filing.

And that is this: A plaintiff's claim that attorneys failed to act on arguably relevant case evidence made available to them can often be a telling factor in a malpractice filing. Incompetent representation broadly encompasses attorney failures in many matters, and certainly in many cases where legal counsel does not act on supplied evidence that a court might find material in its evaluation of a claim.

A retained attorney always has a duty to act with due competence and in accordance with a standard of care routinely followed by his or her professional peers. Proven attorneys who advocate on behalf of malpractice victims can evaluate whether that standard was adhered to in a given case.

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