A bold student contacted me looking for help with a school project. Their question was:
Can you tell me the pros and cons of hiring a workers compensation attorney?
It sounded like they wanted me to do their work for them. I barely did my work when I was in school 30 years ago, but I was happy to provide them with insight. And I think that insight can be valuable for any Illinois injured worker. I’m not a list maker, so I’ll go back and forth between some pros and cons and weigh them against each other.
Pro: You have a trained attorney in your corner that is looking out for you and making sure you don’t get taken advantage of.
Con: Some law firms will assign young lawyers to your case who don’t know what they are doing which can make your case go sideways.
Verdict: An experienced attorney will almost always make a case go smoother. When you hire a law firm, clarify who will be working on your case and insist that the primary lawyer in charge has at least ten years of experience.
Pro: It doesn’t cost anything upfront to hire an Illinois work comp lawyer and they only get paid if they make a recovery for you.
Con: They take 20% of any settlement they get for you.
Verdict: Unknown, but true, the insurance company doesn’t have to offer a settlement at all and when they do and you don’t have a lawyer, they usually deduct 25-40% of what you’d get with an attorney. We almost never see a case where you’ll get less money with a lawyer even with their fee. In some cases that difference has resulted in more than $100,000 in the pockets of our clients.
Pro: Having a good attorney should give you peace of mind.
Con: There’s no guarantee of success. Every case is fact dependent.
Verdict: Although nobody can promise a result and if they do you shouldn’t hire them, a good lawyer does greatly increase your chances of success.
Pro: My employer will take me more seriously if they know I have an attorney looking out for me.
Con: My employer hates lawyers and will take this as an act of aggression on my part.
Verdict: In our experience, employers only get mad at bullshit injuries or cases. We don’t take on liars or fake injuries. So while every situation is different, if you are legitimately hurt this shouldn’t be a worry. Plus if you are injured at work, you have to look out for yourself. The insurance company hires an attorney because it’s in their best interests. You should do the same.
Pro: If your treatment and benefits are denied, having a case on file already with a lawyer allows you to get into Court faster.
Con: Court? I don’t want to go to court! I’m scared of a trial and testifying.
Verdict: Illinois work comp claims aren’t lawsuits. They are claims for benefits. There is no Judge or jury, just an Arbitrator. Trials are mostly basic and bland. But even if you don’t want to testify, having the appearance that you will go to trial often leads to a settlement. Most cases never go to trial.
I could go on with a lot of other pros that don’t really have any cons. Some examples include making sure you get proper mileage reimbursement, making sure the nurse case manager doesn’t interfere, stopping the insurance company from playing games, etc. In the end, though, you have to decide what is best for you.
If you would like a free, no-commitment consultation to see if getting a lawyer makes sense for you, you can call us any time at 888-705-1766.