Back in October I referred a case to a Wheaton workers’ compensation lawyer.  The client had broken his ankle on the property of his employer.  It was a pretty serious fracture and required surgery.  He got released from his doctor to return to work at the beginning of December.
The attorney I referred him to had filed subpoenas for all of the medical records and wrote the client a letter that he was doing that so that in the beginning of the new year they could discuss putting together a settlement demand if he was still feeling well and working without problems.  Everything seemed ok.
Then the settlement whisperers came out of the woodwork.  These are people who think they know how your case should go because they or someone they know was involved in something once.  In this claim, the worker wrote the lawyer and stated, “My family tells me that you are taking too long and that I should fire you.  They say you are not on your game because my neighbor had a fall and not only got back to work with all of his bills paid, but he got a settlement and promoted.  I may have to go at this alone.”
Now I don’t know his neighbor, but I do know how these cases work. Nobody gets a settlement that quickly, at least not a good one for a major injury.  It would be legal malpractice for this attorney to try and settle the case without a copy of all of the medical records and bills because if a bill doesn’t get paid the lawyer could be on the hook.  And if it turns out that the records reveal something that would have made the case worth a lot more money then it’s big trouble.
And quite honestly, while I do know some attorneys who b.s. their clients and say that most cases take years to settle (not true, depends on when you get released from medical care and are working without problems), settling within three months of an injury, especially after a surgery would be irresponsible.  In most surgeries, scar tissue builds up and that can cause you future problems.  So unless it’s an incredible offer or your doctor can confirm you will have no more issues, waiting an extra month or two is always the safest play.  If you settle and need more treatment then you’ll have to pay for it.
But the biggest problem in this situation is that the people whispering in his ear have no experience and no frame of reference to judge what is best for him.  The reason you hire an attorney is for their expertise.  That doesn’t mean you can’t question them and you should.  You are the client and you have a right to answers.  But if you are going to take the advice of a non-lawyer over an attorney who has handled thousands of cases, then you are really being your own worst enemy.
Some of this sounds harsh, but I don’t add value by sugar coating anything. Don’t be afraid to ask questions.  Just make sure that you are asking the questions to people that actually have a track record of handling cases.

By Michael Helfand