I’ve been an Illinois workers’ compensation attorney for 21 years.  I like to say that I’ve heard it all, but recently I heard something new.

A woman called me looking for a lawyer. I looked up her case and discovered that she had hired an attorney who had filed the case just one week prior.  Although I had never heard of her attorney, this call seemed like a red flag.  She said the lawyer wasn’t in her corner and I didn’t see how that could be possible so soon after the case started.

I heard her out though and what I heard shocked me.

She told me that the day before the attorney had her at his office and they called the insurance company to discuss the case.  She went on to say that during the call, the attorney walked out of the room, leaving her to talk by herself with the insurance adjuster while the paralegal for the attorney listened.  He was gone for about ten minutes and by the time he came back the call was over.  When she asked why he left, he said he was looking for papers and “to be honest, I don’t really handle a  lot of workers’ compensation cases.”

So the obvious shocking statement is an attorney took on a case, only a week later to admit that he doesn’t know what he’s doing.  He of course never should have taken the case in the first place and clearly was trying to make a buck at the expense of a client.

But the more shocking item is that he allowed her to talk to the insurance company at all.  That does not help or benefit her in any way. You’ve heard the saying that “anything you say can and will be used against you.”  It’s meant for criminal cases, but it applies to work comp too.  If the attorney says something it’s just talk. If you say it, it can be used as evidence against you.

Beyond that, he put her on the phone with someone whose goal and training has to do with denying workers’ compensation cases.  Why would you ever do that?

I’m not sure if this lawyer is in over his head, having a meltdown or just clueless, but he really put his client’s case at risk.

You should never consent to be recorded and quite honestly should minimize any talking you do with the adjuster.  They are looking to gather information that can be used against you.  And once you’ve hired a lawyer you should never talk to the adjuster again.  That’s part of what you got an attorney for in the first place.