I have a suspicion about the most common mistake people make after they have Illinois work injuries: They don’t even get one single free consultation with an attorney.
That’s right. The reason I cannot prove it is because I believe these people never call me. The reason I believe it is because of the many, many clients who have hired us who begin the conversation with:
“I never thought it would come to this—that I would even need an attorney—but the insurance company pushed me to this…”
Or they may say:
“I’m not one of those guys—one of those who doesn’t want to work, who wants to file lawsuits and go after people for money…I feel so bad calling you. They are paying for my medical bills and treating me ok—I think. I’m not sure. I just don’t want to ‘rock the boat’…”
There are many variations on it, but you get the idea. I can sense that many of our clients who we have helped over the years could have easily been statistics in favor of the insurance company, if they had never picked up the phone to call us. Usually, it sounds like they almost never did.
You can see why I think that the most common mistake is that injured workers not only do not hire a work comp attorney, but even worse: they never speak to one single lawyer about their cases. These are the people that I believe generally end up going one of two different ways:
The claim is denied, and the injured worker gives up. The reasons for this are many. He (or she) may fear losing his job in retaliation for pursuing his rights under the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act (which in itself would create another possible case for him, if he is terminated after filing a work comp case with an attorney). He may generally dislike the idea of hiring an attorney, and wrongly believe he has to pay an hourly fee (workers’ comp is a contingency fee area of law in Illinois. If we do not collect for you, we do not obtain any money from you. There are not any hourly fees.) He may simply not understand that a consultation with an attorney at a firm like ours is 100 % confidential and private, and 100 % free. He doesn’t realize he has nothing to lose, and everything to gain, by at least talking about the situation with a lawyer one time. The bottom line is: The insurance carrier denies the claim, and the worker gives up, just as the insurance carrier wanted him to do.
The claim is accepted, the insurance company pays for all the medical bills, and the injured worker either is never offered a settlement at the end, or the offer he (or she) is given is very far below the actual value of his case. The key is that this person may feel that since the claim has been accepted and paid for by the insurance carrier, he somehow “owes” it to the insurance company and his employer to not file a workers’ compensation claim with an attorney. If you are this person, here’s what I’d tell you: The insurance company may have created the illusion of caring for you, even though, without a doubt, they do not care about you. Insurance companies’ primary objective is to save their money, and to pay out as little as possible in claims. That’s the job of the adjuster, the nurse case manager, the CEO, and everyone in between. Any one of these individuals may seem very friendly and human to you, but, in the end, you are a small number in their bottom line. They have zero motivation to provide full compensation for your case. Adjusters get year-end bonuses for closing out claims in timely manners. They want your claim to end, and, until it does, they want to control you, your medical care, and everything about the case, to keep the costs as low as possible.
If you are injured at work, you owe it to yourself to at least talk to one Illinois workers’ compensation attorney about your situation. Again, most firms, like ours, offer 100 % free, confidential, private consultations in which we’ll listen to your story, provide you with advice, and tell you the many ways our firm could help you.
If you are injured at work, call a lawyer as soon as possible. Do not wait another minute. You are not committing to hiring a lawyer. You are simply getting free advice about your rights. Before you know it, many small things in your case could go wrong, leading to all kinds of problems, up to and including possible denial of your claim. You may think that you will call an attorney tomorrow, or the day after, but the time will never be better than this moment, right now. As each day passes, you may be that much closer to being another one of the people who never picks up the phone, who never makes that one phone call to a workers’ compensation lawyer that could change your life.