Every month I receive a publication called the “Illinois Workers’ Compensation Law Bulletin.” Essentially it highlights recent cases that have gone to trial and often we can use these cases to give you legal advice or learn about new case law. In my opinion, if your attorney isn’t reading this they aren’t doing their job.
There are around ten cases that are featured and they all went to trial and were appealed. The topics they discuss vary and as it’s not published by a law firm, it doesn’t slant in favor of workers or insurance companies. It’s a “just the facts” type publication.
I’ve noticed over the last six months that more and more cases are being won by the insurance companies. I think that is in part due to some of the Judges who Governor Rauner has appointed along with the pressure that is being brought by politicians and special interest groups on these cases.
Essentially winning a case is harder than ever. In the July issue, there were seven cases where the worker lost the trial. That’s a high number. One of them was because of bad facts and it appears to be a case that should never have been brought.
The other six though could have been winners it seems, but they all lost for the same reason. Lack of credibility.
In two of the cases the Judges sided with the doctor hand picked by the insurance company over the treating doctor. That leads me to suspect that the workers went to doctors forced upon them by their lawyers and that these docs have bad reputations. Or it could be that the treating doctor wasn’t a specialist. Either way, it hurts the credibility of the case.
In the other four cases, the workers testified in an inconsistent manner , were unconvincing about what happened or didn’t have enough facts in their testimony to support what they think happened. That seems to me to be bad lawyering. It’s not your job at trial to figure out what to say. It’s the job of your lawyer to ask the right questions to provide enough information that will leave no doubt that you were hurt at work. They can’t just ask, “How often do you use your hands at work” to prove a repetitive trauma case for example. They need to in great detail show how stressful the work was, the frequency of motions, the amount of force you use when performing your job and anything else that can be relevant.
I’ve seen work comp trials in Chicago where clearly the attorney had done zero prep work with the client. The questions were made up on the spot and the attorney had no idea what the client would say. I’ve seen some law firms throw a kid who has been a lawyer for a couple of weeks in to a trial so they can get experience. That experience of course comes at the expense of the unsuspecting client. It’s gross and unethical.
You can bet that if you hire a law firm and the attorney responsible for your case changes every few months that there’s a chance that if you go to trial it will be with someone who is unprepared. They certainly won’t be as ready as an attorney who has been with you since day 1 and knows your case backwards and forwards.
It sounds stupid that this can happen, but it’s the reality and these cases prove it. Hiring the right law firm matters. We have a state wide network that helps people find the right attorney for their case no matter where in Illinois they are. Call us at (312) 346-5578 for a free review of your claim.