When should you settle an Illinois work comp case?

A reader called us and asked our opinion on his case.  As a FYI, when this happens usually we find that the lawyer the caller has is doing most things right.

In this case the caller had undergone a neck fusion two months ago and has at least four more months of treatment ahead of him.  He received a call from his lawyer who suggested that they make a settlement demand?

Huh? I think even the most naive person out there would know that settling your case, especially after a major surgery, before you are done with treatment makes no sense.  In fact, most Judges we know wouldn't even approve settlement contracts right now.

But the bigger point is that there is nothing more important than your health.  When it comes to thinking about settling your case you don't want to take too long, but you don't want to do it too soon.

If you are an office worker who breaks their leg when they slip on a wet floor, you can likely settle your case soon after you are discharged by the doctor if you are feeling well.  There is little chance that your leg will get worse and your job duties won't make your condition worse.

On the other hand, if you are a secretary that had carpal tunnel surgery, I'd tell you to wait until you have been discharged by the doctor and working pain free for 2-4 months before we settle your case.  Once you settle a claim you close out your rights as relates to that injury for the rest of your life.  You never want to settle before we are 100% certain you won't need more medical care.

And if you are like our caller and have had a fusion, especially if you are in a physically demanding job, I'd tell you that you don't want to settle your case until you have been working pain free for 3-6 months if at all.  This is especially true if you are younger as a fusion likely will have to be re-done at some point.   By going to trial you can still get paid and keep your medical rights open for life as relates to that injury.  Even if you do settle, you want to make sure your possible future medical costs are considered.

Moral of the story is that you never settle too soon and you shouldn't even be thinking about it while you are still under the care of a doctor.

We are workers' compensation attorneys that help people with Illinois work injuries anywhere in IL via our statewide network of attorneys.  Contact us and we will answer your questions or find the right lawyer for your situation.

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dennis - November 11, 2010 10:11 AM

thank you, i am greatfull and we need more of you. i will keep you in my prayers. neck fussion/ no more confussion. thnx

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