I got a call from an injured firefighter downstate who had talked to five other law firms about his back injury.  He said two things that were interesting to me.  First was that of the five firms he talked to, two were from Chicago.  I let him know that being downstate he should get a downstate lawyer who focuses their practice on work comp. He then said, “Aren’t you from Chicago?” and seemed surprised by my honesty. I connected him with a lawyer in our state-wide network who hopefully can help him. It’s my opinion that for most cases, Chicago attorneys shouldn’t be your choice if the hearing location will be southern IL.

The second interesting thing he said was that one of the lawyers he was considering bragged to him that not only was he the best lawyer around but that he had also written the Illinois workers compensation laws.

This is the type of misleading thing that a lot of attorneys say and it makes my skin crawl. First off, Illinois workers compensation laws were written over 100 years ago in 1911.  Now unless this attorney is a zombie or vampire, he certainly didn’t write those laws.

What this attorney was referring to most likely is that in 2006 and then again in 2011 there were some changes to the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act. They covered things like case value, a medical fee schedule, carpal tunnel claims, a cap on wage differential benefits, the creation of a preferred provider program (allows some employers to choose your doctor), and added AMA ratings to be a factor to consider in settlements.

This all came to pass due to pressure from the insurance industry and some business groups for work comp “reform.”  It became a hot button issue and Democrats wanted to look like they were doing something so it didn’t become a campaign issue that could drag them down. So legislators got together and received input from various groups including the Chamber of Commerce, Insurance companies, workers comp defense lawyers, and workers comp lawyers for the petitioners (injured workers).

I was not on a committee but was asked my thoughts by a lawyer who was talking to a state rep who was heavily involved. So were hundreds of other people.  No one person or lawyer wrote these laws.  Many people, including lawyers, were involved in the discussions on them.

My personal opinion at the time and now is that while some ideas like a medical fee schedule were good, most of these “reforms” were just giveaways to insurance companies who are already making a killing off what I see as over-priced premiums. If there is any lawyer who represents injured workers who is bragging because they helped pass a law that significantly lowered many benefits for injured Illinois workers, it makes me wonder whose side they are on.

So not only would I not want to attach my name to these changes, in my opinion, anyone who says they wrote the law is lying and is just trying to market themselves in what I see as kind of a slimy or misleading way.  Maybe they are a great lawyer, maybe not, but to me promoting themselves this way is a huge red flag.