I got a call from an injured Illinois worker recently. She told me that I was the 7th attorney she had called and that nobody would take her case. That told me that there was likely something wrong with her case, but I gave her the benefit of the doubt and asked her why nobody is willing to help her.
Her reply is one that I hear a lot, and it’s a huge Illinois workers’ compensation myth. She told me that everyone is afraid of her employer which in this case was a big hotel chain. After talking to her further it became clear that nobody would take the case because she sprained her toe, is doing fine, had minimal treatment, and the only real issue is a $400 medical bill. In other words, it’s just too small of a case.
While some employers are more difficult to deal with than others (Cook County is one, the State of Illinois is another), the honest truth is that no work comp lawyer is “afraid” of your employer or their insurance company. It’s certainly beneficial in many cases to hire an experienced lawyer who has handled cases in the past against your company, especially at a place like Amazon, many nursing jobs, school districts, etc.
But the laws don’t change, and the work that needs to be done doesn’t change. Just because some of those companies are worth billions doesn’t mean they will spend crazy money to fight your case. They aren’t hiring a team of lawyers. They can’t retaliate against your attorney in any meaningful way. They quite honestly don’t think much of work comp in general.
In other words, while a lot of injured workers have this fear, it’s not a real one. Lawyers like to make money. If they think they can make money off of your case, they would love to help you. Even if it’s a case that is only going to generate a moderate fee, that’s a part of being a work comp attorney in Illinois. In fact, in over 26 years of being an attorney, I can’t recall one lawyer ever saying they wouldn’t take on a case because of who the employer or insurance company is.
So why do attorneys turn down cases. There are a few main reasons:
- We touched on it already, but lawyers will turn down cases that aren’t worth very much money. They want to get paid something at the end of the case.
- They evaluate your case and don’t think you have a strong case. For example, if your claim is PTSD due to having to work long hours every day, that case likely wouldn’t be covered under Illinois work comp laws and you’d likely find attorneys would turn you down.
- You’ve had multiple lawyers on the case already. That’s a red flag and also could diminish the ultimate fee they’d be able to get.
- You seem like a potential problem client. If an injured worker yells at us or staff on a first call or is generally rude, it’s also a red flag and a reason to not take on a case.
There are other reasons too, but fear is not one of them and never will be.