A Chicago work comp defense attorney I am friendly with shared the following snippet from an e-mail she got from a lawyer on a case she is defending:
Petitioner is recommended surgery and yes you will pay it because I will visit justice upon your client. While you consider this email and remain aghast at its utter bravado I’ll retire to east bank club pool to savor another impending victory over your firm.
For lack of a better term, the lawyer representing this injured worker appears to be an utter douche bag. I had never heard of him so I looked him up and noticed that he’s only been licensed to practice for less than three years and has his own firm. That leads me to believe that he was never properly trained on how to handle a case or communicate like a professional. That’s not to say that a younger lawyer can’t successfully handle a case, but in this matter he’s doing it in a way that will not only harm the current client, but future clients.
If we represent you, our job is to look out for you and not be buddies with the defense law firm. But pissing them off by acting like a jerk is not going to make them suddenly turn reasonable. Think of your own life experiences. When someone puts you on the defensive with their actions, it makes you defensive right back to them. The last thing that will happen in this case is for the insurance company to roll over and pay for a surgery because someone is acting arrogant. In fact, if it’s a close call it will be the motivation needed for them to deny the case altogether.
And this doesn’t just hurt the current client who appears to be badly injured, it will hurt his future clients. This e-mail is being passed around because it’s so ridiculous. As a result the lawyer is going to get a bad reputation. So the next time he has a case with this defense firm or anyone else that has seen it, they are going to have a biased view of the case and the innocent worker is going to suffer.
Clients want lawyers that show they are fighting for them, but this type of letter is actually harming them. There are so many better ways to write this, mainly to lay out the supporting evidence, file a trial motion and petition for penalties (which actually requires the insurance company to respond to you with their reasons for denying the case) and follow up with a phone call. Attaching a medical report that supports your position would help too. That’s actual toughness because it shows that you have a strong case and will go to court with evidence that will punish them for not doing what they are supposed to do under the law.
I’ll give this younger attorney a pass personally. Maybe he was having a bad day or maybe he just doesn’t know any better. But he looks like an ass and certainly is not anyone I’d recommend to represent anyone that I cared about.
As a client you can protect yourself by simply asking your attorney to cc you (or blind carbon copy) on any correspondence that they are sending. They should feel great about this because it can prove to you that they are actually trying to get stuff done on your case. And if they don’t want to do it, it may be a sign that they are doing nothing at all.