Going with a theme I talk about a lot of lawyers doing things that I can’t believe, a recent caller to my office told me she was unhappy with her attorney. I asked her why and one of the reasons was that her lawyer said there was a settlement offer.
Why would that make her mad you ask? Well, he went on to say that he rejected the offer without asking her if she wanted to take it, wouldn’t tell her what it was and when she asked what he was demanding for a settlement he wouldn’t tell her that either.
That’s just about the strangest thing I’ve ever heard and quite honestly I encouraged her to report this lawyer to the ARDC as this attorney should be suspended from practicing law. It’s law school 101 that an attorney has to convey every settlement offer and can not accept or reject any offer without the approval of their client.
You also shouldn’t be making settlement demands either without consulting your client. What if I tell the defense lawyer or insurance company that you will settle for $50,000.00 and they offer that only for you to say you’ll only settle for $100,000.00? Good luck getting them to increase their offer when it looks like they’ve already met your demands.
When it comes to settling a case at the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission for any job injury, you usually won’t see a windfall, but no matter the injury, an attorney should be trying to do a minimum of three things:
- Get the best possible result for the client. That usually means getting the highest dollar amount, but often also means making sure that future medical needs are considered.
- Never settle a case too soon. Once you settle it’s over and the client can’t get any more medical or TTD benefits. I’m shocked at how many people call me after major injuries and in terrible pain only to reveal that their lawyer settled the case over a year ago even though they were in pain.
- Communicate with your client and develop a game plan. We can’t get you a million dollars if your case is worth thirty thousand max, but we can and should show you how we are getting to that amount and make sure we know what’s important to you.
It’s no surprise that the law firm which was handling this case is the type that handles almost every case that walks through the door and isn’t located in downtown Chicago. But even then I’ve never in 20 years of being around Illinois work comp claims seen or heard of a lawyer who wouldn’t tell their client about an offer.