Tiny Cases

Small Shrinking Currency Dollar in Inflation on White Background

Many people hear about large verdicts or settlements in the news and assume that all legal cases are huge, dealing with large amounts of money, huge injuries or damages, and massive numbers of lawyers and legal teams.

In reality, few cases are worthy of news attention and even fewer have any of the “sexiness” that those high-profile cases (Dominion Voting vs. Fox News, for example) do.

I am here to report that I recently settled a case that was on the very small side, yet had great significance to my client.

The Case

My client was referred to me by a trusted lawyer friend who did not handle workers’ compensation, as I do. So he referred her to me. At first blush, it seemed to be a small, but valuable case. The client had received burns from hot food products on her leg while she worked at a restaurant. There was some concern about future scarring.

One of the absolute rules in my book is: listen to your lawyer. If I tell someone that getting consistent medical treatment is essential, I mean it. It helps document the injury and ensures that the other side cannot argue that the injuries were caused by something other than the work incident.

However, for many people, life gets in the way of following their attorney’s advice. They don’t seek out treatment, delay follow-up recommended by their doctor, or otherwise do things to harm the momentum of their case.

In workers’ compensation, the value of the case hinges upon many factors, including the wage rate of the injured worker and their recovery from their injuries. There are several other factors affecting value, but those are the big ones.

Of course, this case turned out to have a confluence of all the negatives mentioned above. Not much treatment? Check. Possible nerve damage from the burn? Never materialized. Disfigurement or scarring from the burn? Healed almost completely. Weeks or months off work due to the burn? Nope. Finally, a low wage rate combined with part-time hours, making the wage rate fall to the bare minimum.

The Settlement

I treat every case the same way because I know for my clients it is as important to them as could be. It’s the only case they have and may be their only time ever in contact with the legal system.

I did everything I could to advocate for my client and increase the possible value of her case. But when you don’t have “the horses,” you can’t do much. A fully healed injury, very little treatment, almost zero permanency, and a state minimum wage rate make for a very small workers’ compensation settlement.

Not to put too fine a point on it, but after 33 years of practicing law, I still settle the occasional case (like this one) for a shade over $1,700.

Total. Before attorney’s fees, costs advanced, or sharing of the attorney fees with the referring lawyer.
It doesn’t seem worth it, does it?

But it is. Why? Because it’s the only way to get my client compensated for her injury and it’s the only case she has. And she was happy, because she understood the factors working against her case being a high-value one.

Not every case is a newsworthy or high-value case. But that’s okay. It may be the only case that client has and a small settlement may be the best you can do with what you have.


  • Most cases are not newsworthy, large value, or terribly interesting
  • Multiple factors affect the value of a case, some that can’t be controlled by the lawyer or client
  • Some cases are not money makers. And that’s okay.

Contact Chicago Personal Injury Lawyer Stephen Hoffman

As in all cases involving injury, workers’ compensation, medical malpractice, or other injury and potential liability, if you have been hit by a vehicle immediately get medical treatment, report the crash to police and your own insurance company, and contact a lawyer with expertise in your type of case, such as premises liability or pedestrians hit by cars.

If you've been in an accident and have questions, contact Chicago personal injury attorney Stephen L. Hoffman for a free consultation at (773) 944-9737. Stephen has over 30 years of legal experience and has collected millions of dollars for his clients. He is listed as a SuperLawyer, has a 10.0 rating on Avvo, and is BBB A+ accredited. He is also an Executive Level Member of the Lincoln Square Ravenswood Chamber of Commerce.

Stephen handles personal injury claims on a contingency fee basis, which means you don’t pay anything up front, and he only gets paid if you do. Don’t wait another day; contact Stephen now.

Categories: Personal Injury