One conversation that sticks out in my brain from my early days as an attorney was with an insurance adjuster.  I started off my career working for a prominent Chicago workers’ compensation defense firm which is great training for learning how to properly handle a case as well as to learn how insurance companies really work.  When I decided to start representing injured workers I was well prepared.

In the conversation with the adjuster (I want to say it was in 1999, but this lesson is still true today), we were discussing making a settlement offer on a case.  The petitioner’s attorney actually made a reasonable demand and I felt that we could get the case resolved for about 70% of the true value which would have been great for my client.  The worker’s attorney had a reputation for not being willing to work hard to get a good result.

Problem was that this adjuster didn’t want to give out a penny to the injured worker.  The accident wasn’t disputed and all benefits had been paid.  And she agreed it would be a great settlement.  The problem was that when the case first started and no attorneys were involved, the worker was a real jerk to her when his check was two days late.  I certainly get why he was upset, but he called the adjuster every name in the book, many of which are not suitable for print in this family friendly blog.

And that rudeness is all that the adjuster remembers.  Surely it was an emotional reaction by the worker and they didn’t expect it to hurt them later on. 

But think about it.  If you were waiting on someone at a restaurant and they called you a terrible name, would you be motivated to help them?  If you were about to pull in to a parking spot and someone stole it from you, would you want to help them carry their groceries to their car?  No, you’d be focused on the slight.

When it comes to a work injury, it can be very emotional for you, especially if you are getting screwed over.  If you need to vent or rant and rave, you should do so to your lawyer (if they won’t listen to you that’s a whole other problem).  It’s then your lawyer’s job to solve your problem.   We can do it in a forceful way that won’t burn a bridge that will come back to punish you.  A good attorney can fight for you, but not make it so the insurance company wants to dig in their heels and try to really stick it to you.

In my case way back when, the adjuster did eventually agree to settle, but I’ve seen other times since where the dislike for the worker has caused a ton of problems for the case. 

This doesn’t mean you role over and do whatever they want (e.g. you shouldn’t give a recorded statement).  But it does mean that you should think long term and if things aren’t going your way, use the legal system to your advantage.  We can file petitions for penalties if you aren’t being paid when you should or you are denied medical treatment.

And if any yelling needs to happen, we should be the ones to do it for you.  It would feel good for you to do it in the short term, but it will hurt you in the long term.