There’s a great scene at the end of “Animal House” where one of the fraternity brothers asks the dean for “one more chance.” This is after they were kicked off campus and responded by destroying the town’s parade.

I think of this scene every time I talk to someone who is represented by a terrible work comp lawyer, but can’t quite pull the trigger to fire them and get a better law firm in their corner.

Just the other day a worker whose TTD checks are late every time they are due, sometimes as much as a month, called me to see what can be done about their attorney refusing to try and solve the problem. They went on to say that the attorney usually doesn’t respond to calls or emails and can be verbally abusive. They also said the lawyer forgets basic facts about the case such as how they were injured and what the injury even is.

This scenario screams red flags. The accident was only six months prior and they are getting almost no representation. I referred them to a great work comp attorney in their area who wants to take the case over. And of course it costs nothing to switch. When offered new and better representation the worker said, “I want to give my lawyer just one more chance. If it doesn’t get better in a week, I will switch.”

An attorney asking for just one more chance in that scenario is just as ludicrous as the “Animal House” guys asking for one more chance. Things aren’t going to change or get better. No lawyer wakes up and says, “I’ve been terrible to that client, but I’m going to turn things around and give them the best service possible.” To expect that they are suddenly going to start trying to get you your TTD on time or talk to you as an equal is not realistic. These miserable attorneys aren’t just that way to you, but usually to most/all of their clients.

That’s not to say that a lawyer doesn’t occasionally have a bad day or that they will always deliver perfect service that shows they are fighting for you. We are human and can have bad days or make mistakes. Good attorneys will try to correct those errors. But when it’s a pattern of behavior over many many months, they are showing who they are and it’s up to you to recognize the red flags and solve the problem. You have to advocate for you and you do that by confronting them on your concerns and then getting new/better representation if they don’t fix things.

Usually by the time we get a call from an unhappy injured worker it’s because they’ve asked for the problems to be fixed and they haven’t been. That’s the time to pull the trigger, fire your lawyer and get your case going in the right direction.