There are some things that lawyers do to benefit your case that require a brain or experience or the willingness to really grind. Those qualities are really important in a lawyer. In some cases though, the way to get the biggest settlement possible is to do something simple.
So what should your work comp attorney do whether they are in Chicago or Belleville or somewhere in between?
The simple solution is to get in front of the Arbitrator and talk about the case. Now they can’t do that without the other side there. That would be against the law. But they can motion the case for trial and discuss the issues with the other lawyer and the Arbitrator.
The most common way to do that is through a pre-trial. It’s an informal hearing where each attorney lays out their version of the facts and then the Arbitrator offers a recommendation as to how the case should resolve. In most Illinois work comp cases both attorneys agree on the facts as to what happened but disagree on what a case is worth or what treatment is needed. This is usually done without the client, company or any witnesses present.
A pre-trial is not binding in any way, but can often push two sides much closer to getting the case done. In the alternative a pre-trial may tell you that the only way to resolve the case is through trial. Both of these outcomes are good.
In a recent case we were involved in, the defense attorney wouldn’t budge off of a $75,000 offer for our seriously injured client. After a pre-trial, the Arbitrator said he felt the case was worth closer to $200,000.00. This allows the defense attorney to go back to the insurance company and get them to move significantly.
So a good chunk of getting value on a case is the simple act of getting out of your office and in front of the Arbitrator. As long as you come prepared, you give your case and client the greatest chance for a good result. In a lot of cases, the defense attorney isn’t as prepared as you are and you can sometimes use that to leverage an even better result.
Bonus tip. Some injured workers understandably get frustrated that they can’t be in the room when a pre-trial happens. I’ve heard some allege that their attorneys are somehow on the take from the insurance company. I can’t promise you a result on a case, but do promise this never happens. Not even by the worst lawyers. The reason the clients aren’t in is the Arbitrator wants the chance to speak freely and bluntly. But if you don’t believe your lawyer, ask them to take you before the Arbitrator when it’s done. Usually the Judges will tell you what they were thinking.