Every month or so I get the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Law Bulletin. This is a must have publication for any Illinois work comp attorney. It provides an update on the law as well as noteworthy cases decided at the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission.
In one of the recent publications it highlighted two cases where injured workers went to trial and lost. In one case, a worker was trying to get TTD benefits after he refused a job assignment that would allow him to work within his restrictions. In the second case, the injured worker wanted to get a wage differential payment, but never looked for a job.
Now I don’t claim to be the smartest lawyer in the world, but I’m certainly not the dumbest. And while I wasn’t a part of either of these cases, they both appear to be slam dunk losers. For me, a lot of that appears to be partly the fault of the lawyer.
As attorneys, it’s our job to tell you the truth, not what you want to hear. If you want wage differential benefits, you need to do a job search to prove what you can actually earn. If you don’t then your chances of success are almost none. If you want TTD, you can’t turn down a reasonable job offer that’s in your restrictions even if you don’t want to do that job. These are just facts.
For me, these lawyers should have had the “come to Jesus” talk with their clients and gotten control of the situation. Why they would take these terrible facts to trial is beyond me. Maybe there’s more to the story. Maybe these lawyers don’t know what they are doing. Maybe the client bullied them in to trying it. Whatever the reason, in my opinion it reflects bad on the lawyers and probably doesn’t help their other clients either.
Part of doing a good job as an attorney is telling your client when they are wrong. You can’t be a yes man as that doesn’t help the client in the long run. This is way different than saying I think we will lose, but there’s a chance we will win. These cases appear to be situations where they will absolutely lose but could win if the attorney gives the right advice and the client follows it.
To me these cases show the risks of hiring an attorney who doesn’t really take cases to trial on a regular basis or doesn’t mostly handle job injury claims. The wage differential case is the worst one of the two losses because simple advice would likely have resulted in tens of thousands of dollars more going to the client in the end.
Bonus tip, both of these employees are able to get a settlement. So their lawyers will say “we won the case” because their client got money. Calling this a win though is utter nonsense and reflective of lawyers who lie in their marketing materials.