I’m always amazed when a lawyer lies to a client instead of just telling them the truth.  In law school, we aren’t trained in customer service or business practices or anything else that involves actually running a firm.  So sometimes people with bad life skills are in charge which leads to what I’d consider unethical behavior.
The most recent example was from a caller who told me that he had an attorney on the case, but they withdrew.  When I asked what the problem was, they said that they didn’t know, but the lawyer had told them that the insurance company was so big and had so many resources that they were just too difficult to go up against.  Essentially he said that his one person law firm couldn’t take on a billion dollar company.
What a crock!  Every single case involves an insurance company that is humongous and a lawyer for the worker that is no where near that size.  If this lawyer was truthful then we’d lose every case.  But the reality is that almost every case is a lawyer and injured worker on one side and a lawyer and insurance adjuster on the other side.
Sure the insurance company has more money that we ever will, but they didn’t make that money by throwing it away.  It would make no sense to spend $100,000 to fight a work injury case that’s only worth $25,000 for example.  Beyond that, handling an Illinois work comp case isn’t so complex that a team of lawyers, investigators or whoever should change much.
If you are honest, get injured while working and properly report your accident, things will usually work out fine.  If some hack doctor hired by the insurance people says you are fine when any sane or reasonable physician would say that you are not, you simply need to get in to court.
I’ve heard similar stories from people who say something like “I want a lawyer that isn’t afraid to take on the State of Illinois” or “I need someone who’s not scared to go up against Walmart.”  It’s all perception versus reality, at least in the work comp business.  If you have a good case then who your employer is should be irrelevant.  I don’t know of anyone that’s “scared” to take on somebody.  If they are then what they are really saying is that they don’t want to do any work at all.
What really happened in this case is that the lawyer discovered that the worker had given different stories to his doctors and was caught on surveillance video doing activities that went beyond his work restrictions.  That behavior made it a bad case.  For whatever reason, this guy didn’t have the guts to call out his client on the case issues and thought that telling a fib was the better way out of the relationship.
Like I said, I don’t get it, but some great law firms are run by terrible business people.  But please don’t ever think that your case isn’t going anywhere because of who our opponents would be.  No matter who you hire that should never happen.

By Michael Helfand