A woman we are not representing called us to vent about her current lawyer. That happens a lot and we’re happy to take those calls. Sometimes it just feels good to talk to someone or get a second opinion.
She was injured more than a decade ago and wanted to know what was causing her case to take so long. In her case it happened to be because she had a major injury with multiple surgeries and was receiving medical care for those problems as recently as a few months ago. It would be legal malpractice for an Illinois work comp attorney to settle her case before now because she needed someone to pay for all of her medical care. And her lawyer is doing the right thing by making sure she’s fully recovered before settling or going to trial.
That’s often why some of these cases last for years. It’s unusual for sure. Most cases get resolved within six months to two years. There are plenty of reasons why a case could go longer than that. In no particular order:
- The insurance company who was paying out the case has gone bankrupt. This is rare, but it will put a temporary stop to most cases when this happens until the Illinois Insurance Guarantee Fund takes over. That can be a big problem and a big delay. You won’t lose your rights, you just won’t be able to do anything about them for a while.
- Your attorney is lazy. There is a safety net for this called the black line. That means that once it’s been three years since a case was filed, your attorney has to give the Arbitrator the reason it’s not over at the status hearings which occur every ninety days. The excuse can be as simple as “my client is still treating” or as vague as “we’re working on getting it settled.” If Arbitrators aren’t aggressive enough, these excuses can work for years even if a case is ready to be done. In those cases your best ally is an aggressive defense attorney who forces your lawyer to do their job. One attorney in particular has been infamous for this problem for over 20 years. He somehow still gets clients even though many of his cases drag on for years longer than they should.
- Your case is complex. Most cases are not, but if you have multiple or unique injuries, it might take a while for us to take the depositions of your treating doctors and any IME doctors. Some physicians also aren’t willing to give depositions often. I’ve seen some where the wait list is around six months. If that’s the case then your case will sit until they are available.
- Your trial is complex. Again, this does not apply to most cases so don’t accept delays without an explanation. But if you were hurt traveling out of the country and we need a witness from Australia, that can take time to arrange. If multiple witnesses need to testify (that is very unusual) it can take time to arrange. If you need an interpreter for a unique language, that can take time. All of these are issues which we have seen.
Bottom line is delays in settling your case or going to trial typically shouldn’t happen, but if they do there are reasons, some valid, some not so valid.
Any questions? Any concerns? Call us any time for free at (312) 346-5578 or fill out the contact form to the right.