When people call us looking for a new Illinois work comp attorney for their case, we want to know why they aren’t happy with their lawyer. While it costs you nothing to switch lawyers, we want to make sure that we can do a better job than your current attorney if we are going to take over.
In some cases the lawyer is doing everything right, but is not explaining what they are doing to the client. In other cases they are doing a terrible job and it’s smart of you to switch law firms.
One injured worker who called us recently wanted to switch firms because, “I can’t get my lawyer to make a settlement demand.” She was anxious to get the case over with and didn’t understand why her attorney wasn’t trying to get the case resolved. Upon closer look, it was clear that she was right to be mad. She had been back to work without any physical problems for almost a year and had her last visit with the doctor over six months ago.
The question is, when should your lawyer make a settlement demand?
The answer can depend on the unique facts of your case. I once represented a man who desperately wanted his case over so he could move out of state and be near his grandchildren. That claim we rushed along as soon as he needed no more medical care. In most cases though, this is what you should think about:
1. Be released back to work and able to do your job without problems.
2. Be discharged by your doctor from treatment.
3. Will you need future medical care for something like removing hardware put in in a surgery?
4. Is your job secure?
5. Do you have permanent restrictions?
6. What part of your body is injured?
7. Are you at risk for a re-injury on the job?
8. What time of year is it?
All of these items can influence when we’d tell a client to try and settle a case. Some might not make sense until you dig deeper. For example, insurance companies are more desperate to resolve claims the closer it gets to the end of their business year. So sometimes it makes sense to aggressively go for a settlement in November even if you haven’t been back to work long. You may end up with much more money albeit by taking a chance.
In general though we tell clients that at least a month to three months of working without problem and being discharged from a doctor is a good idea before making a settlement demand.
What I don’t get is why some lawyers in Illinois like this one wait too long to do the work. They only get paid if the case gets resolved. So if the client wants to settle and is all better, you’d think that they would do what they can to try and make that happen.
Bottom line is that the answer depends on your goals and case facts, but in most cases once you are discharged from medical treatment you should start thinking about it. Even if you aren’t going to make a settlement demand for six weeks, you can start making sure all of your bills are paid, getting medical records, etc.