A very nice woman who had hired a Rockford workers compensation attorney was upset with him. He hadn’t gotten in touch in any way in over nine months. She was right to be upset with him as that is way too long not to hear anything from your lawyer. She went on to ask me if she was being unreasonable (definitely not) and how often she should expect to hear from her lawyer?
First off, not hearing for that long is a huge red flag and a sign that you hired the wrong law firm. That’s just terrible customer service and a sign that they don’t care at all about you or your case. If it’s not too late you’d want to get a new lawyer in that situation. Fortunately it costs nothing to switch firms.
As far as how often you should hear, that answer depends on the facts of your case. In Illinois, your case is up on the status call at the Illinois Workers Compensation Commission every three months. Nothing happens at those calls unless your lawyer or the defense attorney files a trial motion of some sort. That said, to me it’s a great time for a lawyer to just shoot a short note to the client to advise of the new status date and see if everything is ok.
That’ the bare minimum. If your lawyer learns of an IME taking place, they should call/write to you ASAP. They need to prep you for that event as far as what to expect.
If your lawyer is aware you are returning to work after having been off for a bit, I would expect that they would check in with you to see how it went a week or two after your return.
If you have a surgery, I would expect that they’d check in to see how it went within a day or two of it happening. There may not be much you can tell them other than what the doctor said, but it’s a sign that they care about you if they are asking about it.
Any time your attorney is aware of something that could affect your case, they should check in. If they subpoena medical records and learn that you paid for some expenses out of pocket, they should ask about it. If they discover a new medical provider you didn’t mention or a history of a similar injury that you didn’t share, they should ask about it. If they learn you are having surveillance done on you, they should make you aware of it.
We could go on and on with many examples of when your lawyer should get in touch. The basic answer is that we feel it’s at least every three months and as often as daily while important things are happening on your case.
You also have a responsibility to communicate with your lawyer. If your TTD check is late, tell them. If you have bills or can’t get approval for a doctor’s appointment, tell them? When lawyers don’t hear from their clients, they tend to assume that everything is ok with the case. If you have something that concerns you, call or email them. You aren’t being a bother. It’s their job to help you when you need it. So always reach out if ANYTHING is concerning you. There aren’t dumb questions and there aren’t dumb reasons for reaching out.
Bonus tip. Your lawyer does have other clients and a life. So while we pride ourselves in talking to people right away and always within an hour, it’s reasonable for a lawyer to take up to 24 hours to get back to you in some cases.