I started off my career as a defense attorney which is really the best training for someone who wants to represent injured workers. If you don’t know how insurance companies think or how to look at all sides of a case, you are not doing the best job you can. Most of the people who I would consider among the top workers’ compensation lawyers in Illinois have similar experience.
I remember being a young lawyer and prepping for one of my cases for days in advance. I was so excited to go to trial and fight for my client. I knew the case backwards and forwards. I had all of the medical records neatly organized. I was young, but aggressive and ready.
Then I got to trial and reality slapped me in the face. My opponent was disheveled. He didn’t know basic facts about the case. He had no questions prepared for his client and just “winged it.” I felt terrible for the injured worker because it was clear that they did not have an advocate in their corner. I can’t imagine how nervous they were on a witness stand with literally no preparation. They hired this person to fight for them and he was useless.
When the testimony of witnesses ends in an Illinois workers’ compensation trial, the last thing to do is submit your exhibits. This is typically copies of medical bills and records. I remember this lawyer was stacking papers together at the last second and didn’t have copies for me (which is customary) or himself which he’d need to finish off the case. It was the cherry on top of the terrible customer service sundae that he served his client.
And yes, I won the case.
For terrible, lazy lawyers like this, their world just got a little harder. A new case decided at the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission called the Love case (that’s the name of the injured worker) has changed the rules for trial. Now you must deliver to the other attorney copies of the treating medical records that you want submitted in to evidence more than 48 hours prior to the trial taking place.
So if your lawyer tells you that your case is going to trial, ask if they have your medical records. If the answer is no, then you aren’t going to trial because they aren’t ready. If they haven’t sent them to the other attorney and you are supposed to go to trial tomorrow, you aren’t going to trial.
It’s a good ruling because there shouldn’t be surprises or disorganized attorneys. I’m in favor of anything that makes a lawyer get their shit together.
The only bad part of this is that there are going to be more lazy attorneys who won’t get their cases ready for trial. Remember, if they won’t do their job, you can get rid of them at no cost to you.
If you have questions about a trial or anything else related to your case, fill out our contact form to the right or call us at (312) 346-5578. We help everywhere in Illinois. All calls are free and confidential.