A recent article I read tells the story of a bad Illinois workers’ compensation attorney. This bad attorney tried to make a bad settlement for his client. And, the bad attorney then tried to bully his client into accepting it. Although the article discusses an attorney in another state, it is not a unique story. It happens in Alabama as well. Too many attorneys fail to prepare their cases or go to trial when needed.
The story reminds me of a work comp case several years ago. I received a call from a man in nearby Athens who had suffered a very bad back injury. He had required spinal surgery for his injury and was now a chronic pain patient. He had not been able to work since the surgery. However, he already had a lawyer. His problem with that lawyer? His lawyer was trying to force him into accepting a settlement for an amount less than the defendant’s own expert concluded. This was not just a low offer. It was below what he would have received at trial if the court believed everything the employer argued. It was an unrealistically low offer. And, it should have been declined immediately.
When I heard the full story, I was shocked. Why was a lawyer trying to convince this clearly injured person to accept such a small amount? The injured worker had a good case. Why was a lawyer, any lawyer, trying to convince this clearly injured person to accept an offer below any reasonable expectation at trial? As I investigated the case, I learned the truth — that work comp lawyer was unwilling to fight for his clients in court. That lawyer had a track record of not preparing his cases. And, the insurance company offered a lower amount because it knew that lawyer’s track record. Make no mistake — insurance companies know which lawyers fight for their clients and which lawyers do not. It’s not just workers’ compensation cases. It also applies to car accidents. Insurance companies know the attorneys who accept far less than the full case value.
In my initial conversation with this injured worker, I counseled him to talk with his lawyer and express his decision to fight for more benefits. I figured the lawyer would listen. That is what a good lawyer should do in this situation. The client tried to speak with his attorney. Yet, instead of fighting for him or providing a reason why the low offer should be accepted, that attorney threatened to ruin the worker’s claim if he did not immediately accept.
We then agreed to help the injured worker. We went to trial and obtained a just result for the injured worker. At trial, the court awarded him permanent and total disability.
I have never understood the conduct of that other lawyer who would not fight for his client. I have never understood why he was unwilling to fight, at all, for his client. Injured clients need an attorney who will honestly advise them, who will prepare their case and who will fight for full and fair compensation.