I got a call the other day regarding a workers’ compensation case that we began working on in 2010. It was actually a guy that did not have an Illinois case, but instead had a claim in New Jersey so I referred him to a lawyer that I know there who meets my selection criteria for recommending a lawyer (experienced, aggressive, great customer service).
He was calling to let me know that the client had just won over $2 million from a medical malpractice lawsuit related to the work injury. The worker hurt his back pretty badly and had to have a spinal fusion. While no surgery guarantees a result and there are risks with every surgery, when you have a fusion it can be medical negligence if they insert the fusion screws in to your nerves. It can lead to something called failed back syndrome and it’s often irreversible and always very painful and disabling.
What makes this NJ lawyer great is that he recognized the potential issue here and got it in the hands of a top notch med mal lawyer to bring a lawsuit.
I’ve cringed over the years when people have come to me years after they’ve had a spinal fusion that’s gone wrong and want to talk to me about workers’ compensation and how they aren’t happy with their case. Because I try to analyze every issue, I always ask if they’ve had anyone look in to a lawsuit against the doctor. You wouldn’t believe the number of times I’ve gotten a response like, “I asked my lawyer about that years ago and he told me that I wouldn’t have a case” or “My lawyer referred me to the doctor and told me that I can’t sue him if he’s treating me for a work injury.”
It’s all nonsense and shows the danger of when your lawyer values his buddy-buddy relationship with your doctor (who sends them business) more than they do with you the actual client. There’s also a danger when an attorney fails to look in to every possible angle to a case. Another common example is when truck drivers get injured because a load shifts causing their truck to tip over. It happens all of the time. If the load was put in place by a different company than the one the driver works for then they may have a lawsuit against that company.
Problem is that many law firms are lazy or incompetent and don’t look at these other related issues. There are statutes of limitations for any and all of these lawsuits and if you wait too long then your case will be barred forever. In a failed back surgery case that could be a difference of millions of dollars and a lifetime of care.