I can take a joke and tell one, but I’d never “joke” that I don’t give a crap about my clients. Yet in the last two weeks I’ve heard of two Chicago workers’ compensation attorneys who were openly “joking” about how much they hate their clients and their job.
The worst was one guy who has a ton of cases and hasn’t been practicing long enough that he should be burned out. He said that his new year’s resolution was to not take any cases to trial in 2016. Hilarious!
While he’s joking, I think (hope), it’s indicative of his reputation for not fighting for his clients. There isn’t a ton to being a decent work comp lawyer. Most of the success comes from knowing what the law is and giving a good effort. By good effort I mean returning phone calls to both your client and the defense attorney or insurance adjuster and being willing to go to trial when the case calls for it and it’s in the best interests of your client.
The “hardest” part about being a work comp lawyer in Illinois is going to trial. But that’s like saying the hardest part about being a musician is having to perform concerts. It’s what we are trained to do and what our customers expect from us. And unlike medical malpractice or divorce where a trial can take weeks, most Illinois work comp trials happen in a few hours on one day along with taking a deposition or two with doctors before the trial. That’s it although after the trial is over you do have to write a brief to the Judge recommending how he/she should rule on the case. That can take an hour or two or more depending on your effort, preparation and writing skills.
Unfortunately for this one lawyer this is too much work. Sadly there are many others like him. It’s mostly about perspective because if they were medmal lawyers, they’d be thrilled to try 50 cases in a year which only last a half a day.
What will end up happening is that defense attorneys will take advantage of his reputation for not wanting to take a case to trial and will start offering 20-50% less than full value to settle a case knowing that there is a likelihood that he tells his clients to take the offer.
By way of illustration, if your case is worth $30,000.00 and the offer is $20,000.00, in the end that’s an $8,000.00 difference to your bottom line because $2,000.00 of the $10,000.00 difference will go to your lawyer. So you need to be aware that some lawyers will say $2,000.00 isn’t worth it to me to go to trial and push the client to settle. That’s how a lazy lawyer views this stuff. A good attorney says, “My client is getting short changed out of $8,000.00. There is no way I can recommend that they settle.”
Obviously there are some risks (for both you and the insurance company) if you go to trial and every case has unique facts which weighs in to what a lawyer will recommend. Before you hire an attorney I’d suggest that you ask them how many cases they took to trial last year and will they go to trial in your case if the case calls for it or you aren’t happy with the settlement offer. Every attorney in our state wide network has tremendous trial experience and would never tell a client to settle because they don’t feel like doing their job.
If you have questions about this post, your case or Illinois work injuries in general, call us for free any time at (312) 346-5578. We help everywhere in Illinois.