Visitor Question

Do I have a legal malpractice claim?

Submitted By: Anonymous (Georgia)

I worked through a temp agency that sent me on assignment to work for a painting contractor. The painting contractor sent me to work at a company to paint tanks and valves that contained anhydrous ammonia. I worked there for about 2 months. During the course of me working there the valves would emit ammonia vapors.

After being there for about 3 weeks, I began to have burning in the nose, throat and chest, and shortness of breath. I reported the smells to the company’s maintenance man and to my employer, but nothing was done about it. I went to the Dr. and started a workers’ comp claim.

A workers’ comp attorney took my case for just the WC, and he connected me with a personal injury lawyer from their firm to file a third party claim for the ammonia exposure. Both attorneys took my case the same day. My workers’ comp lawyer settled my claim a few months later, but the PI case I thought was still ongoing.

After almost a year of my PI lawyer having my case, I called his office a week and a half ago to touch base, because I had not heard from his office since last August. I needed to give him my most recent medical record from my lung Dr.

His office didn’t have me in their system as being a PI client! I left messages to have the attorney call me several times. He finally returned my call to tell me he didn’t believe I had a case. His reasoning was, he thought he was barred by workers’ comp from suing because my comp had settled.

I thought, well then, shouldn’t the two attorneys have known better than to let my workers’ comp case settle first? Then his other reason was, he didn’t believe my case was a third party injury. Well, one year ago when he took my case, he took it because he said it was a third party injury. I’m left feeling like maybe he lied to me to get out of my case. I think what happened is he forgot about me.

He’s had my case for almost a year and now my statute runs out in three weeks. I had him send me my files. He made a claim, but never filed a complaint, and when the defendant’s insurance company finally responded, it was last August, and they sent me a questionnaire to fill out. I mailed it back to the Attorney and that was the last I heard from them.

When I called him this week to get my files, his secretary told me the week I started calling him about my case (a week and a half ago), he pulled my file and emailed my workers’ comp lawyer, and the WC lawyer told him he is barred from suing the third party.

It seems to me that would make both lawyers negligent. If this is true, then in my mind they both should have known better and are both at fault, if they allowed my workers’ comp case to settle before the PI claim. From the looks of my file, the PI lawyer never did anything with my case, he never followed up with the other side…it just sat in limbo.

I’m left with so many questions. I feel like they’ve lied to me, and I STILL don’t even know if I have (or had) a 3rd party case to salvage. I’ve been contacting lawyers and no one seems to want to take my case because of my statue being so close. They say they don’t even know if I have a case without researching, but there’s no time left to do so.

I feel at a loss and I don’t know what to do now. Is there anyway you can tell me if I have any cases at all? Is the first lawyer/firm guilty of malpractice for messing up my PI case? Any perspective you can give would be greatly appreciated. Thank you.

Disclaimer: Our response is not formal legal advice and does not create an attorney-client relationship. It is generic legal information based on the very limited information provided. Do not rely upon the information in our response, or anywhere else on this site, when deciding the proper course of a legal matter. Always get a personalized case review from a local attorney.


Dear Anonymous,

It is our policy here at not to interfere with the attorney-client relationship. To do so would be entirely inappropriate. Contact your attorneys and request a sit down meeting in their offices. If necessary, demand there be a conference call between attorneys. You are owed a detailed explanation about the status of your case(s).

In the interim, and in an effort not to miss Georgia’s two (2) year statute of limitations period, you must file a lawsuit. If necessary, go online and find the required forms to file a simple personal injury lawsuit petition.

As long as you file the document before the limitations period expires, your legal rights will be protected. Don’t worry about dotting every ‘I’ and crossing every ‘T’. Just find a form, complete it, and take it to the local courthouse and file it.

Before doing so, you must know who you are suing. That may be difficult, but from the facts you present, the company you worked for may be liable under the theory of gross negligence. If this is so, then you would not be barred by workers’ compensation statutes prohibiting lawsuits against employers.

Once the lawsuit is filed, the statute of limitations period is “tolled.” This means you will now have plenty of time to find an attorney to accept your case, or, in the worst case scenario, drop the lawsuit.

At this point, the issue of attorney malpractice should be secondary to protecting your legal rights by filing your lawsuit before the limitations period expires. Once you file the lawsuit, you will have time to review the entire matter, and then decide whether or not there are sufficient grounds to file a complaint with the Georgia Bar Association, or a lawsuit alleging legal malpractice.

The above is general information. Laws change frequently, and across jurisdictions. You should get a personalized case evaluation from a licensed attorney. Find a local attorney to give you a free case review here , or call (888) 647-2490.

Best of luck,

Published: January 25, 2015

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