Asked in Personal Injury and Workers' Compensation for Illinois

Q: What should I do when I have lack of communication with my lawyer & have reached full MMI?

I’m 26 with two surgeries in one year from a job injury that led to termination. I still have chronic pain after having both surgeries in a year. It’s been 3 years that my case has been ongoing and I’ve reached MMI. I have been having major neck pain on the opposite shoulder & I don’t know if it’s from over compensation or more problems from my surgery. The insurance doesn’t want to pay for anymore test even with my chronic pain. I have tried contacting my lawyer for the past 3-4 months and all I ever get is his voicemail or them telling me he’s out the office, with no call backs or emails. It’s frustrating not knowing what’s coming next or if I’m ever going to be okay with lack of knowledge or communication from my lawyer. Usually at my point what happens next and how can I get my lawyer to communicate more ?

1 Lawyer Answer
Charles Candiano
Charles Candiano
  • Workers' Compensation Lawyer
  • Chicago, IL
  • Licensed in Illinois

A: There is no excuse for no contact in 4 months and there is rarely a need to speak specifically with your attorney. There is no reason why someone cannot get a question answered for you, MOST of the time. If your attorney is doing his job, he should be apprising you of options. No attorney can do a good job for you unless he understands exactly what injury you sustained, the mechanism of injury, and why you would experience whatever residual deficits you may have as well as how to address those deficits. For example, if you have chronic pain, it is important to identify and address the source of that pain. Failure to do so can result in even worse pain and a diagnosis of Fibromyalgia.

Pragmatically, you may not be able to return to the same work. If you suspect that you must accept a lower-paying job, your attorney needs to engage a vocational rehabilitation expert to evaluate you and the job market. If you are entitled to a wage differential, your wage when you were injured DOES NOT COUNT. You are entitled to the difference between what you can earn now and what you WOULD BE EARNING if you were still at your old job, including raises. That benefit is paid through age 67. In your case, for another 51 years.

If you need to take medication that prevents you from driving or operating machinery, you may not be able to work. If you have chronic pain that is exacerbated by activity, there may be days when you simply cannot work. If that is the case, how long do you think you will last at any employer? You would never survive your probationary period. If this is the case, you would be odd lot permanently totally disabled. At your age, that should be a last resort.

Your attorney should also have mentioned that individuals with chronic pain very often need and always benefit from a psych consult and therapy. You have been disabled for 1/3 of your adult life. Friends are being promoted, earning experience, saving money, and building families while you are in pain, probably exhausted your savings, and are unable to work. It is no mystery that you would be depressed.

If you hired an attorney who had you sign a contract and is simply waiting for the insurance company to offer money so he can get paid, you need another attorney. Unfortunately, it is NOT EASY to change attorneys who are hired on a contingency because even though you have an absolute right to fire your attorney, it is not easy to find another experienced attorney who is willing to do all the work and give part of his fee to the first attorney. Make an appointment to go to your attorney's office and have him explain ALL OF THIS. If he cannot or will not provide you with options and answer your questions, you need another attorney. Good luck.

James G. Ahlberg agrees with this answer

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