Why do you hire a workers’ compensation lawyer if you are hurt on the job in Illinois?
I think everyone has their own reasons, but for most people it’s because either you don’t know the law and want an expert and advocate in your corner or because you are getting jerked around and need some help.
While it costs nothing up front to hire a work comp lawyer, we don’t take these cases out of the goodness of our hearts. We get 20% of whatever settlement we get you in the end. Up until that point we work for free. Well, at least most of us do.
Some lawyers for whatever reason don’t want to work. They just want to get paid. It boggles the mind. At least once a week I get a call from someone who says, “My lawyer won’t answer my questions” or “My attorney never returns phone calls.”
Just because we don’t bill you by the hour doesn’t mean we can blow you off. Why would someone act this way? And why would you as a client stick with someone like this? You don’t have to.
We are happy to talk to anyone at any time about their case. But at some point it comes down to you as a client standing up for yourself. 20% of a settlement can be a lot of money if the lawyer does a good job. If they won’t answer your questions, they are not doing a good job. What are you paying them for?
You have a right to put yourself first. And you should. This is your case. Your life. You should expect customer service. Answering a question or returning a phone call is essentially the bare minimum. It’s not making them go out of their way. It’s asking them to do their job.
If you call at noon on Monday and it’s Thursday and you haven’t heard back, that’s a problem. If you ask if the nurse case manager should be allowed to talk to your doctor and they tell you not to worry about it, that’s a problem. If you can only speak to their secretary, that’s a problem. If you want to know if you need to show up for the next court date and they never tell you, it’s a problem.
Some areas of law are really complex. Work comp requires experience and knowledge of case law, but it’s not rocket science. The biggest factor in success is usually putting forth an effort. If your lawyer isn’t doing that then you probably won’t get a good result.
UPDATE: Shortly after I wrote this, I got the following “tip of the month” from my insurance company. It’s so true.
It is easier and more cost effective to keep an existing client than it is to win a new one. Communication is a core competency on which clients can and will judge you. So, accessibility and prompt, clear communication with your current clients is essential. Keep in mind that if you fail to return repeated phone calls or emails, you may be violating your ethical responsibility of communication, and may also be jeopardizing a future revenue opportunity.