Not only should you be a partner with your lawyer, but you should be the most active participant in your case. Consider this e-mail that I got from an outstanding workers’ compensation lawyer in Chicago.
I filed a case for this guy in June. It was a low rate case, but he claimed to have a herniated disc and was not getting paid. I motioned the case up for a 19(b) hearing and notified the claimant to meet me in Wheaton. On the day before the hearing, I spoke with him and confirmed that he would be there. The next day, he did not show up, nor did he respond to my many phone messages and emails. I wasted an entire half day waiting for him (to say nothing of the prep time, etc) and my opposing counsel had 4 witnesses present for the hearing to testify about their accident defense. He never did respond. I filed a motion to withdraw as counsel which was granted.
When the lawyer says it’s a low rate case, that means the injured worker wasn’t earning very much money. That will effect how much the case is worth. So he was clearly busting his butt for the client, but not going to get a huge financial return out of it if he won. That’s ok, unless your client doesn’t care about their case at all. I understand why the attorney was upset. He got a case ready for trial in less than three months and the client doesn’t even bother to respond to a call.
Beyond that, it’s very disrespectful to the other attorney. We aren’t worried about being friends with them, but if you tell them you are going to trial and that you’ve prepared your client, it makes you as a lawyer look bad. That could impact future clients or cases.
I talk a lot about being honest with your attorney. I’m very straight forward with anyone that contacts me about how I’ve created a network of great lawyers that I work with on cases to try and get the best result possible for you. We are also extremely direct and honest when you call and ask us questions. Any attorney we’d refer you to can not promise a result, but can show a great track record of success and customer service.
All that anyone can ask in return is that you be honest and work with us to make your case a success.
Now I’m sure most of you would say that you’d never not show up for court if a trial was scheduled. I’ve been handling these cases for 17 years and it’s the first time I’ve ever heard of this happening But I still encourage you to be actively involved in your case. That doesn’t mean that you let it dominate your thoughts and life. But instead, no matter who you hire, ask them what you can do to help or what information they need. Every time you go to the doctor, e-mail what happened and make sure to send them your off work slips. If you go back on light duty to work and are experiencing issues with your boss, communicate with us. But when you stay silent, it’s the sure fire way to harm your case because knowledge is power when it comes to handling these claims. If we don’t hear anything from you we assume all is well.