Most people don’t want to hire a lawyer. I don’t blame them. I wouldn’t want one if I didn’t need one either. I feel the same way about going to the doctor. I’ll go if I really have to, but I really do’t want to.
I bring this up because I get a lot of calls that go something like this:
I was hurt at work and all my friends say I should get a lawyer, but I think everything is going fine. Do I need one?
I’m probably the only attorney who will tell people when they don’t need a lawyer. I’m of course in this to make money, but I take a long term approach that doing the right/honest thing is always the way to go. If I give someone free advice and get nothing back but good karma then that’s all fine by me.
Your need for a lawyer in an Illinois work comp case increases based on the severity of your injury. If you have a minor strain or contusion, as long as your bills are being paid, getting an attorney probably won’t change much. On the other hand, when you have to have surgery, treat medically for months, miss a lot of time from work or are worried about a job change, getting a lawyer in your corner is just smart.
I say this because even when it seems like everything is going alright, it might not be. I talked to a suburban policeman recently who had surgery. His bills have been paid, but a nurse case manager is going to every doctor’s appointment with him. They aren’t allowed to do that. She also is making what seems like friendly “small talk” with him, but in reality is a tricky insurance industry way of seeing if you are violating your medical restrictions. Believe it or not, “What did you do this weekend?” is a loaded question.
The point is that insurance companies are not your friend. The whole relationship is business to them. At every point in your case they are seeking how they can either cut off your benefits or limit them. Maybe they approve a MRI, but make you get a cheaper one that is not as reliable. Maybe they approve physical therapy, but only two times a week, not the three your doctor thinks you need. Perhaps they ask you what you are doing this weekend to assist themselves in conducting surveillance on you.
When you have an attorney, the insurance company can’t talk to you. That doesn’t mean they won’t try to limit what they pay on a case. What it does mean is that it will make it a lot harder for them to be successful. And if something does go wrong, you’ll have an attorney ready to go who knows your case and has a claim filed so it’s easier to get in to court and get results. In the meantime they deal with the insurance company, unpaid bills or any other headaches that come up.
I hear two arguments from injured workers as to why they are hesitant to get a lawyer: 1. I’m not the suing type. 2. I don’t want to get less money in the end.
Almost nobody is the suing type. But the insurance company is staffed by professionals who as discussed want to screw you over. Getting a lawyer isn’t a lawsuit when you are hurt at work. We simply file the claim with the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission and protect you. There is no lawsuit. You aren’t making waves or causing trouble. You are looking out for yourself and leveling the playing field.
As for the cost. It’s nothing up front to get a work comp attorney and we don’t take anything from the weekly pay you are getting. Our fee is 20% of the settlement we get for you and in almost every situation I’ve seen, workers who don’t get a lawyer get offered less if they get offered anything at all.
That’s my rant/advice for today. If you have any questions and want to speak with a lawyer for free, you can contact us any time. No pressure and it’s all confidential.