Must be something in the water, but I’ve talked to a ton of people lately that have cases more screwed up than the Chicago Bears defense against the Packers.

The #1 culprit of the problems were that these people had hired law firms that aren’t really Illinois workers’ compensation attorneys.

Lawyers in Illinois are not allowed to call ourselves specialists.  That said, you want to hire a firm that is very narrowly focused on what types of cases that they handle.  The state wide network of lawyers I’ve created is made of attorneys that are focused on handling work injury cases and that is a huge reason why we’ve had a big track record of success.  Experience plus customer service plus a narrow focus is a winning formula for our clients.

But for whatever reason, many people that have called recently have hired firms that seem do whatever case comes in the door.  One particularly bad firm listed immigration, commercial litigation, real estate transactions and divorce on their website.

Most of the problems come when you think you are hiring a workers comp firm, but discover that you’ve actually hired an injury firm.  The difference is that most injury firms really want car accidents or medical malpractice cases.  They’ll take on a work injury case too, but that’s because they mistakenly think that these are easy matters.  They are wrong.

What ends up happening is that these firms aren’t up to date on changes in the law and they don’t have a relationship with the Arbitrators who handle these cases.  So when the going gets tough, they aren’t able to get you the result you want.  One firm I was called about had a “success” page that listed a bunch of multi-million dollar verdicts.  But these were all malpractice and accident cases.  The handling lawyer didn’t even mention workers compensation in his firm bio.  So you can guess who he is paying attention to when he has to choose between a tough work injury claim and a medmal case potentially worth millions.

My advice is that before you hire anyone I recommend or someone you find on your own, look at their website and find out what it says about Illinois workers’ compensation cases.  If it only briefly mentions it then you are probably going down the wrong path. 

Of course there are plenty of bad firms that do nothing but work comp.  The point is that you want to eliminate risk factors.  The reality is that lack of experience with handling these cases is a huge red flag that you can’t ignore.