Is your employer asking you to resign? You better get paid

It doesn't happen very often in Illinois, but once every 50 cases or so, an employer or an insurance company will ask a worker to resign as part of any workers' compensation settlement.

This usually happens because they either: A. They think you are a pain in the butt and don't want you around; or B. They think you are at a big risk of re-injury if you come back to work.  That is certainly the biggest reason this happens.

A few things to know if you are asked to resign:

1. While there are some states such as Florida where if you don't resign you'll never get a settlement, Illinois isn't one of them.  If you don't want to resign, don't do it.  Certainly don't do it if you don't have a job lined up and can't handle financially not to work.

2. A seperate separation agreement would have to be created. Your workers' compensation settlement contract can not create an enforceable resignation.

3. Most importantly, if you are going to resign at their request, they need to show you the money for that. How much you should get paid can vary from case to case, but it's not unusual to get an extra $25,000 or more.  It could be less of course, but if it's much less then why are you doing it at all?

What shouldn't happen is for an insurance company to say "We'll pay you $X, but as part of that you have to resign." If they do say that and you are happy with the dollar amount, tell them you'll take that number plus $X more to resign.

Again, this doesn't happen all of the time.  But if it does, you are giving up something of value.  If you get nothing back then you are just getting taken advantage of.

Illinois workers' compensation - scars, what are they worth?

Most Illinois work injuries involve damaged muscles, ligaments or broken bones.  Sure we see concussions, RSD and stuff like that, but the most common cases are torn rotator cuffs, ACL tears and herniated discs. 

A little less common, but still seen a lot are cases where you don't have a physical injury, but instead have a scar.  Typically his is a cook who gets burned, but we've been involved in a ton of cases where a line worker in a factory gets scalded somehow.  And the most common scarring case is when any sort of worker gets a bad cut.

Like most injured workers, the common question is what's my case worth?

For a scar it's pretty subjective. Unlike all other cases, seeing your medical records isn't a big factor.  We still look at those to cover all the bases, but the case value comes down to an opinion.

First we need to make sure six months have passed since your accident.  That's an Illinois law for how long you must wait before you can settle a scar case.

Second it matters what part of your body the scar is on.  A nasty scar on your shin isn't worth near what a nasty scar on your face would be.  That's because people see your face more.  And if your scar is above your knee, but below your breast line, you can't get a settlement for disfigurement at all.  You might get a normal settlement if you have any permanent issues from that.

Third we look at the size and type of the scar.  How long and wide is it?  Is it raised or keloid?  Those things matter.

Finally, we try to see what similar cases have gone for.  If we can't agree with the insurance company, typically we'll just take you before an Arbitrator and get their opinion.  It takes two minutes and the Arbitrator's opinion is important because usually looking at you is the only relevant evidence in a case.

In my former life as a defense attorney, we used to pass around pictures of scarring victims to see what everyone thought it was worth.  Usually if you asked ten people you got ten different opinions. So in general we are just trying to find a fair range for you and then of course get to the highest point of that range as possible.

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The insurance company can't talk to your doctor in Illinois

It's no secret that the way insurance companies make money is by minimizing the amount that they pay out.  It's pretty simply that if they collect 50 million dollars in premiums, but only have 10 million in expenses, they will be making a lot of money.

From the insurance company standpoint,  they know that they will have to pay out on some claims. What they actually celebrate is not paying out as much as they should.  So you may have a clearly compensable case, but the insurance company could still send you a form letter that says, "After a careful investigation, we have determined that your case is not covered under the Illinois Workers' Compensation Act."  Their goal is for you to go along with that and give up your rights.  If they try this trick on 10 people and it works on three of them, they have a winfall.

They also try to limit what they pay you by talking directly to your doctor.  That is against the law, but they'll try anyways and sometimes sneak it in to a form that they get you to sign that gives them permission.  That's underhanded, but the good news is that while you shouldn't sign anything, if you do, it can be revoked at any time.  It's usually the first thing we do.

Recently I came across a scenario I hadn't seen before.  An Indiana resident was injured while working in Illinois.  Her claim is filed for Illinois, but the doctors are all in Indiana.  Apparently under Indiana work comp law (which I hear is night and day from what we deal with in IL), insurance companies are allowed to talk to doctors.  So her doctor was getting calls from the adjuster and he was answering questions that he should not be answering.

I don't blame the doctor at all as he had no reason to think this was an Illinois case.  But because it is, our laws control and he needs to stop talking to the insurance company.

There's a built in protection against these tricks in that any statements made by the doctor without your permission are not admissible in court under Illinois law under what is called the Petrillo Doctrine.  But we don't want this to happen anway.

Bottom line, if a nurse case manager, adjuster or anyone else other than your attorney tries to communicate with your physician, you should make it stop. They aren't doing it for your health, they are doing it to try and save some money.

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RIP to Bob McCarthy

I just received word that an incredilbe lawyer, Robert McCarthy, just passed away.

I first met Bob 14 years ago when I began to form my state wide network of lawyers.  He was the former chairman of the Illinois Industrial Commission (now known as the Illinois Workers' Compensation Commission) and was also a State Senator.  He later was a private practice lawyer, representing thousands of injured workers throughout central and southern Illinois.

In all three jobs, Bob was a tireless champion for injured workers.  Many of the great laws we have today are as a direct result of his hard work and refusal to roll over when it came to cutting benefits.

For me, Bob became a friend and while maybe not a mentor, as he was to many attorneys, certainly a role model for how to properly treat people and fight for clients. 

I still refer cases to his firm today and they all carry themselves in a similar to Bob which is why they do a great job.

So while I have no legal advice for you today, but I would like to salute my friend.  I'm happy to say that he lived a long, healthy and happy life and made a great mark on this world while he was here.

Work injuries and the NCAA tournament - do I have a case?

The most wonderful time of the year is upon us with the NCAA basketball tournament.  Because I help injured workers, I think about the ways I've been in touch with injured workers throughout the years that are somehow connected to the tourney.  Here are some scenarios that I've been involved with.  Let's play is it a case or not?

Case 1: Group of co-workers leave the office early and head to a sports bar to watch the games. One of them is walking to the bathroom and slips on a wet floor, injuring his shoulder as he tries to catch himself as he's falling down.

Case 2: A consulting firm throws a party for their clients, also at a bar. One of the employees at the consulting firm gets black out drunk and picks a fight.  He gets pretty badly beaten up.

Case 3: An employee goes to Vegas for a conference during the NCAA tournament. After one of the sessions he heads outside the hotel to meet friends that happen to be in town for the tournament.  While crossing the street he is hit by a car.

Case 4: A group of businessmen take some clients to tournament games at the United Center. The clients decide to take off after the first game and one of the businessmen sticks around to watch the second game by himself as his alma mater is playing.  His seats are in the section of the opposing team's fans and he gets in a fight, fracturing his eye socket.

So are any of these cases?

Case one is clearly not a case. Unless it was mandatory that they be there, it was purely a voluntary event that had nothing to do with the job. It may have been a good career move to be there, but if it's not mandatory or part of the job duties then it's no case.

#2 would have been a case, but it's not reasonable for the employee to get that drunk, so I think that activity takes it out of the scope of his employment.  It's similar to engaging in "horse play" on the job.  Those goofing off accidents aren't covered either.

#3 is the classic traveling employee scenario and is definitely a case. It's forseeable that if someone goes to a convention that when their work is done they'll leave the hotel room.  If that happens and they are injured they would get workers' compensation benefits.  The only exception would have been if they were black out drunk like the earlier example or doing something reckless.

Finally, #4 is probably a case in my opinion (not everything is a slam dunk).  His being at the United Center originally was for the benefit of the employer.  The fact that he stuck around was reasonable. So unless he picked the fight, I think he'd win a claim for benefits.

If you have questions about these scenarios or anything a tall, please get in touch.

Don't assume that your medical bills have been paid

I've written before how there tend to be a lot of trends in the types of calls and e-mails that we get about Illinois work injuries.

The latest one has been from people who were hurt a while ago, went to the hospital and were told by their employer or the insurance company that the bills would be taken care of.

For whatever reason, some of these medical providers don't send a copy of the bill to the patient. What ends up happening is that years later, when the bill hasn't been paid, they eventually track you down.

For one caller to my office, he was hurt in January of 2011.  The bill didn't come in until February of this year. Because it had been  more than three years since the date of the accident and no work comp benefits had been paid in the last two years, the Illinois workers' compensation statute of limitations had been blown and there was nothing we could do for him.

Another caller was more fortunate as her injuries happened in 2013 and she called us this month. So not only should the lawyer we referred her to be able to get the bills paid, we should be able to get her a settlement too.

For you as an injured worker, whether you have a lawyer or don't, there is a simple lesson in all of this. Never assume that any medical bill has been paid.  We encourage clients to keep a journal of every medical visit they've been to. You should call EVERY medical provider and ask for confirmation that the bills have been paid and for a copy of the payoff.

This can be work that a lawyer does, but why risk it?  I do know of one attorney in town that doesn't do this for his clients (nobody we recommend of course) and on one case his client got stuck with more than $60,000.00 in unpaid bills!

And while we do think your lawyer should be looking in to this, ultimately it's up to you to look out for you.  So get every bill to your attorney and call every provider.  If you wait too long you'll have nobody to blame but you.

If you have questions about this or any other topic, please do not hesitate to contact us at (312) 346-5578.

 

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Illinois work comp - How to get a second or third medical opinion

A few years ago, the Illinois Workers' Compensation Act was changed in many ways.  One of the most meaninful ways was that your employer could choose one of your treating doctors for you.

Under Illinois law, you are allowed to have two sets of medical opinions on your case.  So if you go to your family doctor who then sends you to an orthopedic doctor who then sends you to physical therapy, that is considered your first opinion.  Bottom line is that if you doctor refers to another, they are all connected.

After the new laws went in to effect, employers were allowed to dictate who your other choice was if they followed a strict set of rules.  Fortunately, most of them have not done so. As a result, most employees can get a second medical opinion simply by going to whoever they want to.

You have to be very careful though because if you go outside of two medical opinions then you have to pay the bills for the third opinion.

A recent caller to my office actually did have an employer that chose her first treating doctor for her. When that didn't go well, she exercised her right to see her own doctor and actually picked someone who is really good, a reputable neurosurgeon in Chicago.

That neurosurgeon wants to do a neck fusion surgery and the caller to my office is understandably hesitant for that to happen. So she wants to seek what in her mind would be a third opinion as she saw a neurosurgeon that her employer chose and one that was referred to her by her family doctor. The insurance company told her that if she sees this doctor she'll have to pay for it.  So she came to me to see if there is any way to solve her problem.

The answer is yes and the way to do it isn't that hard.  She simply needs to go back to her family doctor or the neurosurgeon (or anyone else she's already seen that is within that chain of referrals) and ask for a referral to someone for a second opinion as to whether or not surgery is appropriate.

As long as you get a referral you are good to go.

It sounds like a simple solution to a complex problem and it is.  But it's also only complex because the insurance company made it that way in order to save money.  If they cared about her health they could have told her what I told her, but the reality is that they simply just care about the bottom line.

Failed Back Syndrome after a work injury

If your work injury led to back surgery and you still have significant pain, then it might be Failed Back Syndrome (also called Failed Back Surgery Syndrome or Failed Fusion Syndrome). It’s a condition that results when surgery fails or doesn’t fix the problem.

Illinois workers’ compensation provides benefits for workers who are injured on the job. Instead of suing your employer, you can file a claim with the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission. It doesn’t matter whether the injury was your fault, your employer’s fault or a just an accident. The law provides 100% coverage of medical care that is reasonable and related to your work injury. It also says that you get 2/3 of your pay while you have to be off work because of your injury. You can also receive a lump sum from the insurance company as a settlement at the end of your treatment, depending on the severity and permanency of your injury.

So how do you know if you have Failed Back Syndrome? It’s a broad category, and your pain can be caused by a variety of factors. It might be surgery gone wrong … or a different issue altogether. Maybe you developed significant scar tissue while you were recovering. Or maybe the surgeon misdiagnosed the problem and operated on the wrong section of your spine. The only way to know is to see your doctor and talk to him or her about your ongoing pain. 

Is your Failed Back Syndrome covered? If your original back injury was caused by your job, then any resulting back problems are also considered work injuries. This means that you are entitled to the benefits described above under Illinois workers’ compensation law. After all, you wouldn’t have a related issue if you hadn’t had the work injury in the first place.

Despite some pretty clear law on the issue, insurance companies deny valid claims all the time. They make more money if they pay you less. The best thing to do, after first taking care of your health, is to find an experienced workers’ compensation attorney to handle the insurance company for you. You shouldn’t even have to speak with them. Your chances of getting full benefits improve greatly once you have a lawyer on your side because insurance companies know that an experienced lawyer won’t fall for their tricks.

Don’t let your employer or their insurer tell you that you can’t get benefits. Their interests are much different from yours. If you have questions, give us a call. We are a statewide network of experienced attorneys who help injured workers. We’ll talk to you for free, and it’s completely confidential.

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A minor change for traveling employees in Illinois who get injured

In any area of law, including workers’ compensation, the rules change from time to time. Sometimes it’s because a new law goes into effect. Other times it’s because a court rules on an interpretation of the written law or how it applies in various situations.

I recently heard that insurance companies are telling injured workers that the law has changed when it comes to compensation for “traveling employees” who suffer a work injury. Apparently, they are doing this based on a fairly recent case that was decided by the Illinois Supreme Court, in which an employee traveling for work did not qualify for workers’ compensation benefits after an accident. The insurance company was apparently using this to its advantage, I assume to either deny claims or dissuade workers from pursuing claims.

It’s very misleading, if not false, to say that the rule has changed for traveling employees. For any employee, you can only get workers’ compensation benefits if you are injured “in the course of” your employment. A common example is an accident going to or from work. In general, you can’t get workers’ compensation benefits for accidents that happen during your daily commute because it didn’t happen in the course of your employment. The law has always had special rules for traveling employees, however. A commute between a hotel and work site, for example, is in the course of employment. The rationale is that you wouldn’t even be in that place at that time if you weren’t there for work.

 

In the recent case, the employee was a worker who took a temporary job at a plant about 200 miles from his home. He was not required to stay near the work site, but he chose to do so. He got seriously injured while driving from his hotel to the plant one morning. The case reached the Illinois Supreme Court over the issue of whether he was a traveling employee and entitled to benefits for his accident. The court decided that he wasn’t a traveling employee because he was not required to take the job, not required to stay nearby and the employer did not make any travel/lodging arrangements or provide any reimbursement for either. And because he wasn’t a traveling employee, his accident was like a regular commute accident – not in the course of his employment.

 

I wouldn’t call this a change in the law. It’s more like a clarification. And if you’re a traveling employee, this “clarification” probably doesn’t apply to you because it affects a very specific type of employee in very specific circumstances. So don’t let an insurance company make broad statements to discourage you.

 

If you have any questions about what you hear from the insurance company (or your employer), give us a call. We are experienced workers’ compensation attorneys who help injured workers anywhere from Chicago down to Southern Illinois. Talking to us is free and confidential.

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Illinois workers' compensation lie of the month

Being an attorney, especially a workers' compensation attorney is not that hard.  But there are some firms, for whatever reason, who only want the cases that will easily settle for them and there is litle to no work.

These firms will tell you to use your own insurance the second that a dispute rises up in your case.  They will recommend a settlement that is no where near the full value of your case because otherwise they'd have to prepare for a trial.

There is one such firm here in Chicago that is like that.  They have a terrible reputation and I often correctly guess that they are handling the case just from hearing the description "my lawyer doesn't return my calls."  Seriously, they are the worst.

The other day I got a panicked call from one of their clients who was looking for new representation.  Her doctor had recommended a surgery for her knee issues and the insurance company wouldn't approve it.

When this very nice injured worker called her lawyer and asked what he could do (mind you it took five calls in two weeks before they spoke), he told he that the laws in Illinois are awful for injured workers so there is not much he can do to help.

WHAT A CROCK!!!!

Our laws are great for injured workers if you have a doctor in your corner that is credible and says your job activities are the cause of your injury.  It takes some work, but it's not like it's 100 hours to get ready for trial.

Firms like this one lie because they just don't want to do the work.  If they get 100 cases and 40 of them are disputed, they'll do a half-ass job on those 40 and coast on the other 60.  I can't even imagine how many of their clients have been ripped off over the years unknowingly.

This is the same firm that, if you follow my blog, I wrote about a while back for promising huge settlement numbers in order to get a client to sign up even though there is no basis in fact for making up any numbers.

These lawyers will say anything, but it's always to try to build an advantage for themselves, not for their clients.  And it's pathetic.

Apparently I'm a normal guy

I had a very nice call recently with the father of an injured worker.  I love getting calls from concerned parents because it's a great sign when you have people that care about you and will look out for you. Most of the time those clients are a pleasure to be around.

I was able to connect him to a lawyer in our state wide network near Wheaton where he was hurt. I imagine the case will go smoothly. 

One piece of advice I gave was when the Dad asked if it was ok for an insurance company representative to come to the hospital and take a statement.  I explained that he should not let that happen as it won't benefit his son.  Beyond that I emphasized that with his son on pain meds from his bad fall, he might unknowingly say something that isn't true which could hurt his case.

The Dad appreciated the advice and said that he couldn't believe that an attorney in Chicago could sound so normal.

I got a good chuckle from that comment because there definitely is a perception out their that if you call a law firm, you are going to talk to some stuffy, know it all blowhard who talks down to you or tries to talk above your head.

I do know many lawyers that act that way, nobody we recommend of course.  But the truth is that most attorneys are in fact "normal." I've talked to more than 300,000 people on the phone in my career, so perhaps I have more practice than most, but giving straight forward, plain English responses isn't that difficult.

I've always said that I can't promise a result, but can promise that we'll do whatever we can for you and give direct, blunt answers to your questions.  Now I guess I can add that I'll sound normal when I do it.  So I have that going for me.

Seriously though, I love talking to people and trying to help them.  If you have any questions about a work injury or anything legal related, I'm happy to talk to you.

Why you should be afraid of workers' compensation "reform"

I'm not a very political person.  I believe in workers' rights which is probably a more democratic principal, but I'm also in favor of lower taxes which is probably a more republican issue.  I try to evaluate every scenario for what it's worth, but don't get involved politically because it's not my thing and I think both parties tend to not be great.

That said, our new Governor has been hinting at more workers' compensation "reform" since he's been in office.  I put reform in quotes because it's just a marketing word.  What it really means is that they want to screw workers.

If you think I'm exaggerating, read this article, http://www.npr.org/2015/03/04/390441655/injured-workers-suffer-as-reforms-limit-workers-compensation-benefits.

The nuts and bolts of it are that in many states, workers' compensation rights are being taken away and injured workers are finding themselves homeless.  Ironically this legislation is usually pushed by republicans, but what ends up happening is that taxpayers foot the bill for medical care that isn't approved.

In one example, a man had his hand amputated from a work injury. Modern medicine has created incredible technology and his treating doctor felt that he'd be a great candidate for a prosthetic hand that looks and works like a real hand.  Sounds like a no-brainer that this would be approved, right?  Wrong.  A doctor in another state said the new technology wasn't needed and recommended a cheaper, clunky metal hand that did not have the same functionality.

In other examples, there are some states where if you don't get better in a certain amount of time, that's too bad.  Your case is closed.  Can't work? You'll probably be homeless.

Some of these "reforms" are already happening in Illinois.  Right now your treating doctor can recommend medical treatment for you.  But if the insurance company wants a doctor to review your records, they can.  If that doctor says your treatment isn't needed, your medical care can be denied and the only way to get it is by going to a trial.  This is called utilization review and it's shocking that we play with people's health this way.

Often these doctors are actually retired or retiring medical professionals who make a ton of money by writing these bogus reports.  They of course have a motivation to screw you over because if they don't say what the insurance company wants to hear, they'll stop getting cases.

It sounds ridiculous because it is ridiculous, but it happens all of the time in Illinois and in other states.

Insurance rates have dropped dramatically in Illinois and insurance company profits are at an all time high.  But they want more and businesses want to pay even less.  If the Chamber of Commerce and Governor Rauner had their way, the system would change so that no matter what you are earning, your benefits would be capped at something near the poverty line and they'd make decisions of these "independent" doctors final over a doctor that sees you in person.

For them, it's not personal, it's just business.  And if you lose your quality of life, well that's your business, not theirs.  So you should be afraid.

WWE Wrestlers With Brain Damage Are Making a Mistake

 The story of permanently injured professional wrestlers is similar to the football players who have been suing their organizations for not doing more to prevent and treat concussions. As medical knowledge improves and athletes come forward, it’s bringing to light the lifelong damage that can be caused by participating in these intense contact sports. 

It’s not surprising that professional wrestlers suffer permanent injury after what they’re put through. As the lawsuit describes, the stunts are extreme. The two former WWE wrestlers who filed this most recent lawsuit allege injuries that include severe headaches, memory loss, anxiety, depression, deafness, tremors, and convulsions. 

When I read about this lawsuit, I wondered why they weren’t filing claims for workers’ compensation. They could get all the medical care they need, plus compensation for having permanent injuries. And they wouldn’t have to prove that the WWE was at fault. When you make a claim for a work injury, fault is irrelevant. 

Workers’ compensation is only for employees, and I’m sure these wrestlers are labeled “independent contractors.” But just because they are called that doesn’t mean they are. In fact, I’m pretty sure they would be considered employees under the law. The law decides, not the employer. The key consideration is how much control the employer has over the employee. The WWE clearly has a right of control over its wrestlers. I’m sure the WWE dictates schedules, performance, etc. It’s probably a very carefully orchestrated job. 

A workers’ compensation claim would get these wrestlers the medical care they need much more quickly, and they wouldn’t have to go through a civil trial to get it. It wouldn’t be as flashy, and if the allegations are true – that the organization deliberately increased violence of its matches in order to make millions and deceived its wrestlers about the consequences – then perhaps a large class-action lawsuit is the right way to go. 

But from a practical standpoint, and thinking about these wrestlers as individuals who have extensive injuries, workers’ compensation is the path of least resistance. They can get their medical treatment covered, as well as payment for the negative (and permanent) effects of their jobs. And it will happen more quickly. I suspect their lawyers would disagree, based on the fee they’re looking at if the lawsuit is eventually successful.  But if they are looking out for the best interests of their clients, especially if they were injured in Illinois, they would tell them to pursue workers comp too.

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Have you always wanted to call us?

The most flattering thing that ever happens to me is when someone calls or e-mails and tells me that they've been reading my blog for months or even years and that it has been a good source of information for them.

While we love to get new clients of course, the primary purpose of this blog is to be educational and help the general public get more information about their rights.  Sometimes this leads to e-mails from people that tell us we have provided information that their attorney won't.  That makes me sad that they have an attorney who is delivering no customer service, but happy that we can help.

Recently I got a call from someone who said he'd been reading my site for more than four years! He was unhappy with his lawyer and just had some general questions.  He said that he wanted to call three years ago, but was worried that I'd be friends with his attorney.

Here are some things you should know about me:

1. ANY communication we have will be confidential.  I might share it with partners of mine in my state wide network, but that's to help you and that is also confidential. I would never call your current attorney or your employer or anyone else without permission.

2. I'm happy to talk to anyone at any time.

3. You might not like what I have to say, but I'll always be honest and direct with you.  I might be able to help, I might not. It may be too late by the time you get to me. But whatever the situation I'll tell it to you straight and give a blunt and honest opinion.

So if you are just starting off a case due to a recent injury, have been dealing with the system for years or are somewhere in between, please know that we are happy to speak with you.  And if you are just stopping by to read so you can educate yourself, I appreciate it.

One Chicago workers' compensation law firm only cares about profit

There is a workers' compensation law firm in Chicago that gets a high number of clients.  That's because they advertise a ton and seemingly will take any case that comes through the door. 

They need a lot of lawyers to handle all of those cases, but when you are taking claims on that involve a contusion to the arm, it doesn't take a rocket scientist to handle them. 

What ends up happening is that this firm hires a bunch of lawyers that have two or less years of experience, including often hiring attorneys that are fresh out of law school.

This means that these lawyers are getting trained by handling cases.  They are bound to make mistakes which comes at the expense of the clients.  In other words, if you hire them, you could be paying to train these low level people.

I believe this firm does this because they don't have to pay these younger lawyers very much.  From what I've seen, they don't get the best training because many of these attorneys leave not long after they have been hired and I hear stories all of the time that they aren't really clear on what the laws are.  One such attorney left this firm a couple of years back, started his own firm and was soon thereafter suspended from practicing law.

Now getting an experienced attorney doesn't guarantee you a result, just as hiring a young one doesn't mean that things won't go well.  But I'm a big believer in predictors of success.  And the truth is that most younger attorneys won't get you the same result that you will receive from someone who has been in the business at least ten years.

So before you hire a firm, ask who is going to be working on your case.  A lot of these firms claim that a very senior partner will supervise a young associate, but in reality that doesn't seem to happen very often.  

Make sure that someone experienced is going to be looking out for your case and will be responsible for the day to day handling of it.  You are paying the same fee no matter who is assigned to you, you might as well have the best.

This is all part of you looking out for you.  If you don't nobody else will.