When you file a workers’ compensation claim in Illinois, your case gets assigned to an Arbitrator and there is an initial status call. Nothing typically happens at those status calls unless a trial motion is filed by your lawyer or the attorney for the insurance company. Most cases get automatically continued for three months and there is no requirement to do anything until three years have passed.
If your bills are getting paid, medical care is approved and you are compensated for your time off work in a timely manner, there would be no reason for your lawyer to file a motion for a trial hearing until you are all better. But if benefits aren’t paid or treatment isn’t approved, a trial motion can be filed at any time.
A very frustrated reader sent me the following note:
I was hurt two years ago and hired a law firm. Supposedly they are fighters, but they aren’t doing that for me. I got cut off almost a year ago and all I see happening is my case is on the status call every three months and gets continued with no action. I need surgery. What can I do?
This is sadly a common thing that we hear. While Illinois work comp cases aren’t usually quick, they shouldn’t be this slow either. When your doctor thinks one thing and the insurance company doctor thinks something else, the solution is to take testimony of each doctor by deposition and then get your case to trial which would involve you testifying along with any other relevant witnesses. Making this happen shouldn’t take more than 3-6 months in most cases and often can happen in less time. There are processes in place that can force doctors to schedule depositions if they aren’t being cooperative. All it takes is a truly aggressive lawyer who cares about their clients.
In this case, this person hired a very well known lawyer who 10 years ago I would say is a great choice. In the last few years they seem burned out and many of their old partners have retired. They for whatever reason want to keep working, but don’t seem committed to really helping their clients get good results. So while I think they are smart and experienced, I’ve heard from many of their unsatisfied clients in the last couple of years. It’s a disturbing pattern.
But back to her question. What can she do?
The answer, assuming there isn’t a significant settlement offer yet, is switch attorneys. It costs nothing to you to switch and unless there’s a really good explanation for the delay or the case is about to be tried, it makes sense to do so. Any potential new attorney worth their salt would do that type of analysis. We’d want to know does it make sense to switch and do we think we can help you and get a better result for you than if you stay with your current firm. If the answer is yes we’d take it on. If it’s no then we wouldn’t.
If you are frustrated with your case and want to get a second opinion or talk about switching lawyers, we’d be happy to speak with you at any time. You can call us for free and in confidence at 312-346-5578. We help everywhere in Illinois.