Volunteers don't get workers' compensation in Illinois

Workers’ compensation, which pays you certain benefits if you are hurt on the job, is only for employees. The law in Illinois does not extend the right to benefits to volunteers. Even if you have a regular volunteering position or you volunteer a significant number of hours, you aren’t an employee. If you volunteer at a hospital and slip and fall on a wet floor, which is a fairly common injury for hospital workers, you simply don’t have the same options as an employee.

Sometimes the person or entity you volunteer for will offer to pay your medical bills if you were hurt while doing work for them. This is a kind gesture, but it doesn’t put them on the hook for anything further. It doesn’t mean they are admitting that they are responsible. And it doesn’t mean that you can file a claim for workers’ compensation if you end up having extensive medical bills.

The same rule applies to independent contractors: Only employees get workers’ compensation in Illinois. Volunteers, independent contractors or other non-employees who get hurt while doing work on someone else’s property have the option of a personal injury lawsuit. You have to prove negligence of some sort in order to hold the property owner or manager responsible for your injury and any financial loss (medical bills, lost earnings, etc.). The dispute is handled through the courts.

A claim for workers’ compensation is different from a lawsuit in that fault doesn’t matter. You don’t have to prove negligence, and if the injury was your fault, that doesn’t matter. You just have to show that your injury was caused by your work. Also, you don’t go to court. It’s a claim for benefits against an insurance company (most employers carry workers’ compensation insurance in Illinois).

The benefits available under workers’ compensation include payment of 100% medical bills, checks for 2/3 of your average weekly wage during the time that you are unable to work, and possible lump sum payment at the end of your claim.

Whether you are a volunteer with a potential injury lawsuit or an employee with a workers’ compensation claim, an experienced Illinois attorney can help you navigate the right type of legal action. The type of attorney we would recommend depends on which type of case you have. If you have a work injury, we suggest hiring someone who exclusively handles work injuries, and the same is true for a negligence lawsuit.
 

By Michael Helfand

Illinois work comp: when to take settlement offer

We always caution injured workers to be smart when it comes to taking a settlement offer from the insurance company. Usually, our warning is that the offer is probably too low and that the insurer is taking advantage. A recent call we received was a good reminder that sometimes the offer is good and if you don’t take it, you could end up regretting it.

An injured worker called us because he wasn’t happy with the settlement offer he received from the insurance company for $325,000. You’re probably thinking that sounds like a pretty good offer. We thought so too. And as we talked to him further, we realized that it was actually a great offer, and one that he should accept quickly.

It takes a lot of experience to evaluate a settlement offer and know whether a client should be advised to accept or whether he or she should go to trial. Once you’ve done this dozens or even hundreds of times, you develop a good grasp of how the insurance companies work, how trial can be used to increase a recovery, and how much a case should be worth. You should never accept or decline a settlement offer without consulting with someone who knows how to value a case.

In the case of the worker who called us, our experience told us that he might lose at trial because the insurance company had a possible defense, which is that he may not have given his employer notice within the required 45 days. This could make his case worth $0 if he goes to trial. That’s quite a risk. Sometimes, going to trial is the only way to get the full value of your case. There’s always the risk that you could lose, and you have to weigh it against the potential reward.

The lesson here is that you need the right lawyer to properly evaluate your case. You need someone who knows the arbitrator and can tell you how that arbitrator is likely to decide such a case. In some instances, a settlement offer can be pulled. It’s not common, but it can happen. The guy who called us may have come close to ruining his case. Hopefully, he gets a good lawyer on his side right away.
 

By Michael Helfand

Ten reasons why you should file a workers' compensation claim

Illinois has an entire set of laws on the books to help workers who are injured on the job. Here are ten reasons why you should file a claim.

1.    If your job causes an injury, Illinois law entitles you to benefits. Sometimes, they’re easy to get and other times you have to fight, but either way you should file a claim. Most workers need benefits in order to get their health back, get back to work, and maintain financial stability at the same time.
2.    You can’t sue your employer for a work injury, so this is your only option in most cases. Claims for benefits replace lawsuits. Insurance companies, hired by employers, are usually the ones paying out these benefits. They’re the ones you’ll be dealing with.
3.    Even if your claim ends up being denied, you can get a hearing to sort it out. Your attorney can request a hearing in front of an arbitrator who acts as a judge, hears both sides, and makes a decision on your case. The insurance company does not get the final say.
4.    If eligible, your medical bills will be covered 100%, with no co-pays or out of pocket expenses. This should be reason enough to file a claim.
5.    If you can’t work while you recover, Illinois law says that you are entitled to receive 2/3 of your weekly wages in the form of benefits checks. This is 2/3 of your “average weekly wage.”
6.    If you are forced to take a lesser paying job as a result of your injury, you can get 2/3 the difference, according to Illinois workers’ compensation law.
7.    It’s against the law for your employer to harass or discriminate against you because you filed a claim. And they certainly can’t fire you for it.
8.    If you’ve already started getting your benefits checks, then you still should file a formal claim. If you run into problems down the road and need a hearing, you should be able to get one faster if you already have a claim on file.
9.    If you don’t file a claim within the time limit, you lose your chance forever. Illinois law gives injured workers three years from the date of injury to file a claim. The deadline is two years from the date of last benefits if you’ve already received some benefits.
10.    You don’t have anything to lose. Even if you don’t know whether benefits are available in your situation, or even if your employer tells you that you don’t qualify, you can’t really know until you look into it on your own. You and your attorney have your best interests as a priority. Others are simply looking out for their bottom line.

Talk to an experienced Illinois workers’ compensation attorney if you have other questions or want to file a claim, or if you need help understanding your rights under the law. Most injury lawyers give free consultations. It’s confidential, too.
 

By Michael Helfand

You don't have to pay for a consultation

Most attorneys we know, and all of the attorneys we recommend, do not charge a consultation fee. You should be able to meet with a work injury attorney, discuss your injury and ask questions without paying anything. If an attorney tells you that they charge for an initial consultation, you might want to find someone else.

Not only are free consultations fairly common, but in our opinion it’s the right thing to do for a potential client. It doesn’t seem right to charge a fee to tell someone they don’t have a case. And as the client, you should be able to get some initial answers without charge. And you shouldn’t have to pay in order to find out whether you even like that particular attorney enough to hire them.

Workers’ compensation attorneys charge a contingency fee on the cases they take on. This means that they only earn a fee if and when they win the case for you. In Illinois workers’ compensation, a fee is earned if your attorney gets you benefits that you’ve been denied or get you a settlement at the end of your case.

Benefits in workers’ compensation include payment for a portion of your lost wages (2/3 of your average weekly wage) if you are unable to work while you recover. You also get coverage of 100% of your medical bills. If you get these benefits without a fight, your attorney should not take any portion. If they have to prepare for and argue your case at trial or a hearing, they earn a fee on what you are awarded. If they settle your case for you, or get you a lump sum at trial, they earn a fee on that.

The main point is that there should be no upfront fees or costs to you. Nothing out-of-pocket. No consultation fee, no fee for getting your medical records, no charge for their office expenses. For the fee earned at the end of a case, Illinois law limits the amount a workers’ compensation attorney can charge. The law says that an attorney can only earn 20% of the amount they are able to “win” for you.

If you have questions about your fee, ask your attorney. They should not avoid the question or be vague about what you have to pay. And finally, always get a fee agreement in writing at the start of your case.
 

By Michael Helfand

How social media can affect your workers' compensation case

Your attorney might recommend taking a break from social media while you deal with your work injury. Insurance companies routinely hire private investigators to look into claimants to make sure they’re telling the truth. They want to verify that you are actually hurt, that you’re as hurt as you say you are and that your injury is really work related. More accurately, they want to catch you lying or ignoring your doctor’s orders.

In the old days, it was harder for a private investigator to find out what people were up to behind closed doors or while out of town. Now, they have access to your life in a way they never did before. They can go on Facebook or Twitter and see how you spent your weekend and read what you’re saying about your life, including your work injury. It’s a big thing we caution our clients about. It doesn’t happen in every case, but if your injury is serious, it could happen to you.

If you’re caught doing something you shouldn’t be able to do with your injury or that your doctor said you can’t do, then your benefits will likely be at risk. The insurance company is doing all this to look for a reason to cancel or deny your benefits. It might cost them some money to hire these investigators, but it saves them much more in the benefits they don’t have to pay.

These investigators follow you in real life too, not just online. The best way to protect yourself and your benefits is to be honest with your doctor, follow your doctor’s recommendations, and don’t push yourself to do yard work or heavy lifting if you shouldn’t be doing that. And don’t use your time off work for anything that would look suspicious, like golfing or even playing baseball with your kid.

It’s frustrating that you worry about all of this on top of dealing with the fact that you are hurt. The financial strains and physical recovery are stress enough. But the reality is that the insurance company might be checking up on you, so you have to be honest and careful. If the insurance company is disputing your injury in any way, the fastest way to get back on track is to get the help of an attorney who goes up against insurance companies every day on behalf of injured workers.

By Michael Helfand

Don't let the insurance company minimize your injury

They’ll do it, and not accidentally. Downplaying injuries is a common insurance company tactic. They’re trying to reduce your benefits, which saves them money. It can be incredibly frustrating and infuriating if you get seriously hurt at work and the insurance company calls it a minor strain.

Minor injuries cost the insurance company less money. Your treatment is shorter and less extensive. With a minor injury, you’re more likely to make a full recovery, or at least that’s what they’ll argue. Their goal, with any case, is to pay as little in benefits as they can manage, and then close your file as soon as possible.

This might sound extreme, but we’ve seen it a million times in Illinois workers’ compensation cases. The best thing you can do is make sure your injury isn’t minimized at the beginning of your case. It will lead you down this road where the insurer is brushing you off and trying to make your claim go away. They get away with this all the time and workers with serious injuries end up with much less than they’re entitled to.

One reason why the insurance companies get away with this is because they are good at acting like they’re helping you. The insurance adjuster might call you at home to see how your treatment or recovery is going. It seems like they’re on your side. Many workers are relieved that the process seems to be going so smoothly. But in reality, it’s a sign that it’s going the way they want it to, which is the opposite of how you want it to go.

The best way to avoid falling into this trap is to hire an experienced attorney. An Illinois workers’ compensation attorney who knows what they’re doing won’t let them take advantage of you. They’ll fight for you, making sure you get all the benefits and treatment you need. Also, the mere fact that you have an attorney will change how the insurance company handles your claim. In our experience, you are much more likely to get a fair settlement offer if you are represented by a lawyer, especially one with a good reputation. Your lawyer should still negotiate to get you the best settlement possible, of course. The point is that without an attorney, any offer you get is pretty much guaranteed to be very low.

Pay attention to the way the insurance company lists your injury. If it’s not right, don’t assume that it’s just a typo or that it’s just how the system works. If you think something is wrong, there’s still time to get help from a work injury attorney in most cases.
 

By Michael Helfand

Do I have to let the insurance company see all my medical records?

In some workers’ compensation cases in Illinois, your employer’s insurance company might want more involvement in your medical care than you are comfortable with. Any benefits you get after a work injury are going to be paid by the insurer. Legitimately, they need to see your medical records related to the work injury in order to understand the reason for your claim. However, they are going to try to use this information to deny your claim if they can, which is why you need to be careful.

In order to give the insurer access to your medical records, they will ask you to sign an authorization. Medical records are of course private, and this authorization tells medical providers that you are allowing the insurer to look at your records. You won’t get very far if you refuse to sign the authorization. It’s a necessary step in the process of getting benefits. But, you don’t have to sign it as-is. Many authorizations are very broad. You can try to limit the scope of the authorization, to cover records for a set time period, such as the date of your work accident and after. You also can try to limit the length of the authorization.

Something else to look out for is whether the authorization allows the insurance company to actually speak with your doctor without you being present or without your consent. If you give them this kind of access to your doctor, it can give them a lot of influence over your treatment, work restrictions, the doctor’s opinion on the cause of injury (work or outside of work), etc. It’s in the employer’s interest to get you back to work, so they might influence your doctor to release you back to work, for example. Then the insurance company doesn’t have to pay you benefits for not being able to work.

A similar strategy used by the insurance company is sending a nurse case manager to your appointments. In Illinois, you do not have to let them into the exam room with you, and we can’t think of any good reason why you would want to.

The safest way to deal with the insurance company is to put the whole situation in the hands of your lawyer. An experienced Illinois workers’ compensation attorney knows how the insurance company operates and can protect you against tactics like these.

By Michael Helfand
 

Why is my workers' compensation case taking so long?

It’s a hard question to answer, because every case is different. If you have big medical bills or need checks for lost wages, we know that even a week can seem like an eternity. You shouldn’t, however, need to wait forever to hear back from your lawyer. And there’s no reason why they shouldn’t explain to you what’s going on and how long it will take.

Here are some common delays:

The insurance company is fighting your claim. If your claim was denied, you can request a hearing to argue for benefits. This is called a 19(b) petition or a petition for immediate hearing and it can be filed at any time. You’ll have to wait a bit for your hearing date to come around, but your attorney should file the motion without delay.

The insurance company is ignoring you. If you are at the end of your medical treatment and waiting for a settlement offer from the insurance company, it can seem like a long wait. In fact, you might be waiting forever. The insurance company doesn’t have to offer you anything, and they might just ignore you and hope you go away. This changes if you have a proactive attorney with a good reputation.

Your medical treatment is ongoing. Until your treatment is over and you’re at what’s called maximum medical improvement (MMI), your case isn’t ready to settle or go to trial. It shouldn’t be over until you’re as good as you’re going to get. Be aware that the insurance company might try to settle your case too early in order to get out of paying for any more of your medical care.

You hired the wrong lawyer. Unfortunately, one reason why a case can drag on is because of a lazy or inattentive lawyer. Don’t settle for the explanation that these things get held up and take a long time. Your attorney should file a claim for benefits if you haven’t already. If that doesn’t get you benefits, then they should request a hearing in front of an arbitrator, argue your case and do what they can to get your benefits started and any past-due benefits paid. You can switch attorneys if you have tried to get answers, schedule a meeting, etc., and you’ve gotten nowhere, especially if it’s been months without any response.
 

By Michael Helfand

What to say to your employer about a work related injury

If your injury was sudden and severe, your employer is probably aware of the incident. Perhaps an accident report was filled out. If your injury developed over time or your employer is not yet aware that you are hurt, you’re probably wondering what you need to do.

If you suffer a work-related injury in Illinois, you are entitled to workers’ compensation benefits. In order to start the process, you need to inform your employer of your injury. They should then tell their insurance carrier, who actually pays the benefits.

The law says that you must notify your employer of a work injury within 45 days. It’s a good idea to do this as soon as possible, however, so that there is no dispute about when the injury occurred or whether it occurred at all. If you delay, it can cause suspicion and lead your employer to deny benefits and claim that your injury didn’t happen at work. It’s also a good idea to notify your employer in writing. You want to avoid any question about when or whether proper notice was given. If your injury develops slowly over time, notify your employer as soon as you realize that you have an injury and that it’s job related.

Also, you should file a formal claim for benefits. This is a document that you file with the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission, not directly with your employer. You may start getting benefits before filing a claim, but it’s recommended that you file one anyway. If your benefits are denied outright, or there is some other problem down the road, you’ll be in a better position to get a hearing in front of the arbitrator (similar to a judge). 

Your employer is not allowed to fire you for going after your benefits. You have a right to do so, and they can’t get in the way. If they fire you in retaliation for filing a claim, you can sue them for any financial loss you suffer. Other damages might be available, as well.

If your employer is disputing the extent of the injury or whether an injury even exists, it’s a good idea to talk to an experienced Illinois workers’ compensation attorney to make sure you don’t lose out on benefits. If you are honest with your doctor and work with a reputable attorney, you have a good chance of the benefits to which you’re entitled.

By Michael Helfand
 

If you are an injured college athlete, we want to speak with you

We have long believed that the way college athletes are treated makes them employees under the law.  The University has a “right of control” over you in that they and the NCAA have limited your ability to earn outside income, tell you where to go, what to do and if they don’t like how you are doing it, even if you have great grades, they can fire you by taking away your scholarship.
 
The National Labor Relations Board seems to agree with me in that they are allowing Northwestern University football players to unionize.
 
If athletes are really employees then they are entitled to workers’ compensation benefits and protection too.  That means no more worrying about who will pay for your surgery if you get injured.  That means that if you lose your scholarship because you are too hurt to play, you should be compensated.  And if you suffer any permanent injury, just like any other worker, you are entitled to a settlement for the extent of your injuries.
 
We are looking to talk to any college athlete who has been hurt while participating in their sport, preferably in the last three years.  You must either go to an Illinois school or have been injured while playing in Illinois.  So if a basketball player from New York got hurt in a game at DePaul or Bradley or anywhere else in IL, we can help them too.  And if you go to college here, but got hurt somewhere else, we can protect your rights as well.
 
Call us at (312) 346-5578 or click the contact us link above if you’d like to discuss the possibilities.  There is no cost to you and we only get paid if we are successful.  Please note that there are time limits for pursuing these cases and any delay could cause you to lose your rights forever.

By Michael Helfand

Illinois workers' compensation covers out-of-state employees

You don’t have to live or work in Illinois in order to get Illinois workers’ compensation benefits. Most people don’t know this, since common sense might say that you have to be here to get benefits here. It’s not a free for all. You do have to have some connection to Illinois, but it’s less of a connection than you might think.

There are several situations in which someone not living or working in Illinois can file for Illinois workers’ compensation. One is if you are working out of state for an Illinois company. If your employer is based here, you can file here. Another situation is if you were hired here. If you were interviewed and hired in Illinois, you are eligible for workers’ compensation here even if you’ve never been back here since. Obviously, if you work in Illinois and get hurt in Illinois, you are eligible, as well.

Just to clarify, eligibility depends on more than just the location of your injury or employer. In order to qualify as a work injury under the law, the injury must be related to your work and happen while you are on the job. You also have to be an employee (not an independent contractor) and you have to file a claim within the time limit. The statute of limitations on work injury claims is three years from the date of the injury, or in the case of an injury that develops over time, three years from the date you knew or should have known that you were injured and that the injury was work related. If you have received benefits before (sometimes this happens without a formal claim being filed), then you have two years from your last benefits payment to file a claim.

The number of employees who are told they are not eligible to file a claim or get benefits is much greater than it should be. In many cases where a boss discourages a claim or the insurer denies a claim, the employee is in fact entitled to benefits. The worst part is that some employees take the word of their employer or the insurance company as the final answer.

If you are having trouble getting benefits, because you work out of state or for any other reason, an experienced Illinois workers’ compensation attorney is going to be able to give you the best advice. The insurance company needs to look out for its bottom line, which is helped by not paying benefits. And a friend or neighbor offering advice, or sharing their work injury experience, means well but hasn’t seen outcomes in hundreds of cases.
 

By Michael Helfand

 

When your boss tells you to lie

I’d estimate that about 10 times a year someone calls me with a very similar sounding story.
 
The gist is that they got hurt at work, but their boss or supervisor tells them to tell the doctor that they got hurt at home.  It usually comes with some sort of promise that “I’ll take care of your bills” or something like that.
 
It’s almost always b.s. and designed to screw you over.
 
Whether or not your case gets covered under the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act depends on a lot of things.  At the top of the list has to do with what you told your medical providers.  If your history of how you were injured changes a lot or you say it didn’t happen at work, that will be held against you.
 
In the very least, you will be made to look like a liar on the witness stand and that will really impact your credibility.
 
We find that supervisors usually say this nonsense for two reasons: 1. They get a bonus if there are no work injuries. 2. They are an owner and worry about their insurance rates going up.
 
Whatever the reason is, their instruction isn’t them looking out for you.  It’s them looking out for them and their best interests.  When you have $30,000 in medical bills and no way to pay them, they won’t care about your problems at all because it’s your problem, not theirs, even if they created it.
 
The bottom line is that honesty is always the best policy and you should not let anyone persuade you to lie.  If you do, you could ruin your case.  That may not be a big deal if you have a minor injury.  But if you have the type of case that is going to cause you to miss time from work or have significant medical bills, you could end up creating your own financial ruin.
 
Remember, bringing an Illinois workers’ compensation claim is not a lawsuit.  You are not suing your company.  You are making a claim for benefits that is no different than asking for health insurance or any other employee right.  You aren’t going to get rich off of your case, but you could go bankrupt if you lie.

By Michael Helfand

Some times karma gets you

We all remember the story of the boy who cried wolf.  When a wolf was finally coming, nobody believed him and things didn’t work out so well.
 
Well, I got asked to take over (and I declined) a case that is similar.  Seems this disgruntled worker kept on telling his co-workers that he needed to have a work injury so he could stop working.  He claims he was only joking and that he has an odd sense of humor, but the day before his accident he told a co-worker that he was going to get hurt the next day.
 
Sure enough he fell off of a ladder and injured his low back. He has a recommendation for surgery.  It actually sounds like the injury was legitimate.  But three of these fellow employees believe that he intentionally fell off the ladder as he saw it as a paid vacation.
 
The insurance company denied his case and now it’s his word versus theirs.  He has to prove the case and there is really good evidence against him.  Now his lawyer won’t take his case to trial and he’s really out of options other than to accept a $500 offer that the insurance company made for him to go away and settle the case on a disputed basis.
 
Any time you are seen as a liar, your case goes down the drain.  We and the attorneys in our network view our clients as an extension of our firms.  We’ll treat you like family, but if you are going to make our other clients look bad then it’s not worth working with you.  We’d be hurting their cases if we got a reputation of being willing to represent people that will make up stories or commit insurance fraud.
 
As you make a decision to hire an attorney, there is no way to know who will represent anyone, but trust us when we tell you that if an Arbitrator or insurance company is on the fence when it comes to your benefits, they’ll use who you hire as a law firm against you if they can.  That’s why we’d never think short term by taking on the case of someone that could hurt all of our clients in the long run.
 
The number one piece of advice that we can give anyone with an Illinois work injury is to be honest.  Don’t tell doctors or Arbitrators or anyone else what you think they want to hear, just tell the truth.  Make sure to report the injury to your employer ASAP.  Give a consistent history of how you got hurt to anyone that asks.  You might be under video surveillance so don’t tell your doctors one thing about your pain and then go and do something your doctor would believe you physically shouldn’t be able to do.
 
It’s only when you have to remember what the truth is instead of telling it that you get in trouble.  Good things typically happen to good people.  And we don’t know any good lawyers that will work with bad people.

By Michael Helfand

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Five things every client should ask their work injury attorney

The title of this post actually should be “Five things every client should ask their future work injury attorney” because you shouldn’t hire an attorney without asking these things first.

 

  1. Do you focus your practice on workers’ compensation? The answer should be yes. In our opinion, an attorney who handles the same kind of case day in and day out is going to have a better grasp on the process, the strategies and have key relationships in the relevant legal community. They should know the arbitrators, insurance companies, etc. They also should have some experience with your type of injury. The more closely their experience matches your needs, the better off you’ll be.
  2. How will we communicate, and how often? This might seem small, but it’s big. If you are in touch with your attorney and know what to expect, you will understand what’s happening in each step of your claim, and you can be confident that you will know when something important happens. It’s also helpful to know how quickly to expect a response when you reach out, whether it’s over the phone or by email.
  3. What is your fee? What about the costs of my case? Attorney fees in workers’ comp cases are set at 20%, by law. It’s a contingency fee, which means that it’s paid out at the end of your case and is based on what you recover in the end. However, make sure this fee isn’t coming out of your weekly benefits checks. The only time this should happen is if your attorney has to go to a hearing and fight for past benefits that you’re owed. Also, your attorney should cover all the costs of your case upfront and not expect you to pay for your doctor’s deposition or anything else.
  4. What is the best strategy for my type of injury and situation? They should be upfront and honest about their approach, and they should not be making huge promises. Anything that sounds too good to be true is worth looking at more closely. Your attorney should take the time to explain things in a way that makes sense. 
  1. How can I help my case? Hopefully, this will be a welcome question. When a client and attorney are on the same page, things can go more smoothly, not to mention more quickly. Your attorney likely will have some suggestions, such as following your doctor’s orders and treatment recommendations, not talking to the insurance company, etc.

 You should ask any other questions that help you determine whether you want to hire a particular attorney. Not everything can be measured objectively, and a lawyer who seems like a good match in terms of experience can feel different in person. Most initial consultations are free. They’re a great way to get answers to these and other questions.

 

Don't mess around with a neck injury

We always tell people to worry about their health first if they have a work accident or are involved in a similar incident that ends in an injury. It’s so important to get medical attention and not ignore the pain. It’s equally important to follow your doctor’s advice and go back to them if things change or you get worse.

All of these suggestions are especially important if you have a neck injury. A neck injury can get significantly worse if left untreated, and in the worst-case scenario your injury can become permanent as a result of not being treated. Nerve injuries to the discs in your neck can require neck fusion surgery, after which the nerves have about a year to regenerate. After that, the extent of your recovery is over, meaning that at that point you’re as healed as you’re going to get.

Unfortunately, we’ve seen cases where injured workers don’t get the treatment they need for a neck injury and end up with a permanent impairment, including constant pain and the inability to ever work again. We’re not trying to scare you, but we want you to learn from what we’ve seen. These cases can be serious. Even those with treatment can leave a worker with a permanent disability.

If you are having trouble getting treatment approved through the workers’ comp insurance company, don’t give up. Talk to a lawyer right away. Your attorney, if they know what they’re doing, can force the insurance company to pay what they’re supposed to. Judges don’t oversee these cases. Instead, they are handled by arbitrators who have a similar role. Disputes that can’t be resolved are presented to the arbitrator at a hearing. If the arbitrator agrees with your doctor they can order the insurance company to cover your treatment. The key is getting one of these hearings as quickly as possible.

Any time there is a serious injury with the potential of permanent disability, we suggest hiring an experienced Illinois workers’ compensation attorney to look out for you. Because of the seriousness of a neck injury, we don’t suggest settling the case on your own. When a case settles, medical coverage is closed. You don’t want to settle for too little or too soon, and the insurance company certainly won’t be giving you any tips on how to get all the benefits that are available.

By Michael Helfand

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