We just received two settlements, one for $150,000 and the other for $160,000.  They came via a lawyer in our statewide network of experienced work comp attorneys who was willing to take over a case from two different law firms.
The first case originally had a lawyer in Chicago on it who has a reputation for extreme laziness.  He was telling the client to take the $40,000 offer on the table.  The client wisely got rid of him and a year later ended up with an extra $111,000.  That was the value of the case when the first attorney had it, but insurance companies don’t just hand out six figure settlements.  They know which firms have fighters and which ones roll over.  It would not surprise me at all if they made the offer so low based on who was representing the worker.
In the second case, the original attorney is a downstate guy who is in his late 80’s.  He was a driving force in Illinois work comp law 30 years ago, but since I’ve been in the business all I have ever heard about is the number of lawyers that he fires (when a new attorney is handling your case every six months that isn’t good for you) and an allegation that he fired his own son.  My opinion is that this guy isn’t the right lawyer for anybody.  That certainly proved true in this case as the end result was a great six figure settlement that was much higher than what the client would have gotten if they didn’t make a switch.
In both cases, the new firm acted aggressive and got results.  When a lawyer has a reputation of not being afraid to go to trial it makes an insurance company take notice.  Neither of these cases did go to a formal hearing, but the knowledge that they could put the insurance company in a position of having to be fair because at trial they could lose so much more.
You don’t want to switch firms if you don’t have to, but at the same time, once you settle the case is over and done with.  So if you end up taking way less than what was reasonable that is all on you.
As a side note to this, I recently was called by a woman who had settled her case, but thought that her lawyer was going to steal her money because he hadn’t paid her yet even though the case was settled in August.  I doubt he is stealing, but what was really disturbing is that she said she still needed treatment for her back injury.  He had convinced her that the back troubles weren’t going to go away so it’s probably better to just end the case now.  Now she had nobody to pay for her treatment.  Never let your lawyer give you medical advice.  If you still need treatment then you don’t even think about settling your case.  If you take a different approach then the only person who would benefit is your attorney.

We are workers’ compensation attorneys who help people with Illinois work injuries anywhere in IL via our statewide network of attorneys. Contact us and we will answer your questions or find the right lawyer for your situation.

By Michael Helfand