There are some things about Illinois workers’ compensation law that are myth and some that are fact.  One that is kind of both is the belief that one person stated to me that the attorney for the insurance company is going to be better than the attorney for the worker.

It’s not true in all cases of course, but in general, the lawyers who represent insurance companies are held more accountable than the ones that represent workers.  I can prove how it’s true.

  1. If your lawyer doesn’t call you back, you could fire them or get frustrated with them.  Usually you get frustrated and keep calling. If an attorney stopped returning the calls of an insurance adjuster they wouldn’t just lose one case, they’d lose every case that company had sent and would likely not get any more from them.  Their business would dry up.  Plain and simple, defense attorneys have to be accountable.
  2. If your lawyer lies to you, odds are that you won’t know it.  So when they say it will take years to get to trial (false) if you don’t know any better you’d believe it. Insurance adjusters and their bosses know the work comp system.  If their attorneys aren’t aggressive they will get fired.
  3. Speaking of which, your attorney can say that they are fighting for you, but the defense lawyer has to prove it.
  4. You assume your lawyer knows what they are talking about, the defense lawyer has to prove it. I used to work for an elite defense law firm and in every case when we got the file assignment we had to provide a huge written analysis of the case facts, the possible defenses, what the case is worth, what strategies they should take that can help fight the case, etc.  As the case goes on they have to write updates on the case constantly (or they get fired) and continue to analyze ways to win.
  5. The insurance companies are writing the checks. If your lawyer is asking for a lot of money, the insurance company wants to know how to pay as little as possible.  That again requires them to be very aggressive with their recommendations.
  6. Your attorney might not want to go to trial. The insurance company often tells their lawyers that they have to go to trial.
  7. A defense firm might have young lawyers working for them, but they get great training and don’t take cases to trial until they have a lot of experience.  Some lawyers for injured workers hire young lawyers and have them take cases to trial with little to no training or supervision.

So if your case is going to trial, you better have a real trial lawyer in your corner.  If they don’t return your calls, don’t remember the case facts when you talk to them, seem to busy for you, etc. before you need a trial, you are fooling yourself if you think they will magically care about your case and become organized when the case actually has to go to trial.

The bottom line is that there are many great attorneys for injured workers, but also many that suck and while it’s still possible they could win your case, the lazy ones don’t give you the best chance of success.  They are going up against someone who knows your case backwards and forwards and is motivated to beat you.  In fact they get rewarded if they beat you.  So when you first hire a lawyer you might not be thinking about a trial, but you should always consider the worst case scenario and whether or not you want that firm in your corner.