A caller to our office relayed the following scenario:

I hired an Illinois work comp lawyer. My contract with them says I can terminate them for a reasonable fee. They are doing nothing for me so I want to get rid of them and get a new lawyer. They won’t return my phone calls or respond to my emails. I was told he needs to sign some form to get him off the case. How do I fire him?

There’s a lot to unpack here.

First off, when you hire an Illinois work comp attorney, everyone signs the same contract. It’s provided by the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission. It sounds like this terrible attorney added a clause or an additional page that says what will happen if they get fired. Only lawyers who get fired a lot would think of something like that. Either way, it’s not enforceable. You don’t have to pay them a fee to get them off the case. They can argue that they are entitled to a part of the eventual 20% lawyer fee when the case is settled. But that’s between them and the new attorney to work out.

Second, you don’t need to get them to sign anything to get them off the case. The way it typically works is you find a new lawyer and that attorney will send your old lawyer a motion to substitute attorneys. Most lawyers who are getting fired just sign it. If they don’t/won’t, which we’ve seen happen, the new lawyer will just present the motion to an Arbitrator who will grant it. A lawyer can’t stay on a case because they want to. In almost every scenario, if you want them removed they will be.

Third, good for this injured worker for taking action when they have an attorney that isn’t fighting for them and isn’t responding to calls and emails. That’s the bare minimum expectation and it’s important to act before it’s too late which is usually when a settlement offer has been made.

So how do you fire an Illinois work comp lawyer? You don’t have to worry about that. Instead your focus should be on finding someone who will be willing to replace them. We’ve seen a lot of injured workers stuck with no attorney. Even a crappy one is likely better than nobody. So call around to firms like ours or others that have a good reputation and care about their clients. Explain the case facts, what’s gone wrong and have a discussion with the new attorney. Your advantage is that you should now be able to talk more intelligently about the process with a new lawyer since work comp is no longer new to you.

Once you find that better attorney, they should handle everything for you. You might have to get them copies of medical records or bills you have in your possession, but they will communicate with your old lawyer to get officially on the case and a copy of your case file.

Probably 25% of the calls/emails we get are from people who hired the wrong attorney, so if you are feeling this way know that you aren’t alone. If you’d like to discuss a case and getting a better attorney, call us any time at 312-346-5578. We help everywhere in Illinois via our state wide network of lawyers.