You Can't Get Fired For Getting Workers' Compensation Benefits

Dealing with an injury is hard enough, but you should not have to worry that you’ll lose your job because of your workers’ compensation claim.  Even though it’s illegal to demote or fire a worker for bringing a workers’ compensation case, unfortunately it does happen. 

That’s why Illinois law protects injured workers by allowing them to bring an additional case for illegal termination.  These cases are significant, because you can ask for punitive damages against the employer, and the amount of money involved can be quite high.  Punitive damages both punish the employer for interfering with your workers’ compensation rights, and they attempt to deter other employers from doing the same.

Recently an injured worker in southern Illinois sued his employer for illegally terminating him because of his workers’ compensation case.  He was awarded $4.2 million in damages, which included $3.6 million in punitive damages.  In his case, he said that the company had retaliated against him for exercising his right to benefits for medical treatment.  He sued for his lost income, benefits, his emotional distress, in addition to punitive damages.

At the end of the case, the jury seemed to agree with the worker, that he had been deliberately fired because of his workers’ compensation claim.  The jury’s decision to award him significant punitive damages, likely lets other employers know that Illinois law is in the workers’ corner, protecting them from this kind of abuse of the workers’ rights to workers’ compensation benefits.

Not every case is necessarily going to be worth that much money in damages.  And proving that you were fired because of your workers’ compensation case is not always easy.  You have to be able to show more than just that your were fired after you filed your claim.  You need evidence that shows that your workers’ compensation case was the reason you were fired.  But employers cannot hide behind some false reason, if the facts show that it was just meant to hide that you were really fired for your workers’ compensation case.

The message to employers is clear.  Illinois law protects injured workers and their right to workers’ compensation benefits for their injuries on the job.

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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Surveillance: Don't Give Them Something to Talk About

If your injury keeps you out of work for a while, you’re probably a likely candidate for the insurance company’s surveillance.  Frequently, in cases that involve significant payouts for time off after a work injury, the insurer will want to be sure that you’re not faking or exaggerating your injury.  So videotaped surveillance is used to see if they can capture a moment on tape showing you doing something you shouldn’t do, or shouldn’t be able to do.

We’ve heard of not-so-subtle insurance adjusters calling an injured worker and asking about odd things such as facial hair, weight, and other distinguishing characteristics.  What the adjuster is trying to say, of course, is something like, “when we’re coming out to get video on you, how can we be sure it’s you?”

Video surveillance is legal, and it’s just one of those things to be aware of, but not stress over.  As long as you’re being honest about your injury- which is so critically important anyway- it should all work out in the end, regardless of what the video shows.  But having to explain and deal with video that seems like it contradicts what your limitations are, can take extra time and complicate your situation.

So it’s better not to give them anything that they can try to use against your case.  Follow your doctor’s restrictions and limitations.  This isn’t the time to try to push yourself and see what you can do.  For example, if you’re not supposed to bend and lift after a back injury, and you tried to pull weeds in your garden, you could have problems.  In addition to possibly hurting yourself physically, you can potentially complicate your case.  The problem with the videotape, is that it doesn’t tell the whole story.  It’s not necessarily capturing the pain you’re in, or whether you needed days to recover after you overexerted.

As long as you’re being honest, we can likely make things work out.  But given the likelihood that the insurance company will be doing surveillance when you’re off work for a long time, it’s best to be cautious.  They’re looking for the piece of tape that shows you’re not telling the truth.  So if you are being truthful about your injury, there’s no reason to give them something to talk about.  Keep it simple for yourself and your case.  In the long run it’s likely the best medicine for your health recovery anyway.

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.

It's Not Over Until You Say It's Over (unless you wait too long)

I had two contacts today that are really telling.

The first was a woman looking for a work injury attorney in Joliet who had herniated two discs in her back in 2007.  All of her bills were paid, but she never got a settlement.

The second was a reader who said the following:

I was injured on my job back last year and it was found that I have 2 bulging disks.  I was treated with 2 separate courses of physical therapy and medication.  I was released from the Dr. in April 2011 and waited patiently for the Insurance Co. to call me with a settlement offer.  They never called!!  I decided to call in the early part of July and was told that my case was closed and I wasn't due anything because I didn't miss any days of work due to my injury.  Is that correct?  

One of my favorite movies ever is Animal House.  The best quote is from John Belushi, “Over?  It’s not over until we say it’s over.  Was it over when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor?”

Under Illinois workers’ compensation law, the case can not just be unilaterally closed by the insurance company.  The reader who e-mailed will see their case magically re-open after they hire us because we will formally file the case with the state and they will get a settlement or a winning verdict after an arbitration.

Injured workers have three years from the injury date or two years from the last payment of compensation related to the claim (whichever is later) to formally file a case.  Unfortunately for our first caller, they waited too long as they haven’t treated since 2007 and she told us that all of the bills were paid that year.

So don’t delay as you can lose rights if you do, but also don’t forget the words of Bluto Blutarski.  It’s not over until we say it’s over.

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.

Lawyer fees and Illinois work injuries

 We recently received a call from a woman who is looking for an Evanston workers’ compensation attorney.  She was very nervous on the phone as she had never spoken to a lawyer before.  I get that, but sometimes it makes me feel like an animal at the zoo.  We are no different than your friends and neighbors, at least most of us aren’t.  There are certainly some attorneys who act high and mighty with callers because they have a law degree.

Anyway, this woman was also worried about fees.  Apparently she called some firm before ours that wanted to charge her for a consultation.  That’s a big red flag.

We NEVER charge to talk to someone about their case and if any firm ever asks you to pay for anything relating to your work comp case you should run away as fast as you can.

State law limits our fees to 20% of what we recover if we take your case on with rare exceptions that can make that number higher or lower.  But under no circumstance should you ever pay a law firm in Illinois to just talk about your case, tell your story, get their opinion, etc.

You can call us at any time at (312) 346-5578 or e-mail us at helfand@illinoisworkerscomplaw.com and we would be happy to go over your situation with you.  Most law firms wouldn’t ever ask for a fee, but they are out there and you should avoid them.

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.

My Employer Says There is No Workers' Compensation Insurance

It is not necessarily a cause for despair if your employer tells you that you are not covered under workers’ compensation insurance.  Possibly you’re being told that because the company is not following the law, and they don’t have insurance.  Or possibly you’re being told that to discourage you from making a claim.  Either way, you do not necessarily have to accept that there won’t be benefits for your claim, if you are an employee who was injured on the job.

1.  Your employer does not have insurance.

Most employers are required by law to have workers’ compensation insurance.  In fact, the penalties for not complying can be quite hefty.   An employer can be charged with a felony for not providing workers’ compensation coverage, and can be assessed large fines. 

Also, if a misguided employer thinks that not having insurance can save money, it does not.  In addition to the serious legal consequences of not covering an employee, the employer is also still responsible for paying for your injury.  Without the benefit of insurance protection, your employer will still have to pay for your medical bills, your TTD benefits for lost wages when you were off of work, and your PPD benefits for the permanent impact your injury has caused you.

If you have been told that there’s no insurance, you can go to www.ewccv.com/cvs to verify whether this is correct or not.  If they do not have insurance, you need to report them to the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission, so they can take further action if necessary.

2.  Your employer does have insurance, but is discouraging you from accessing benefits.

Your employer may tell you that there is no insurance, even thought there is, so that you won’t make a claim.  Perhaps he or she doesn’t think that you will realize that they are required to provide coverage. 

Your employer may subtly or not so subtly make your feel your job could be at risk if you claim workers’ compensation benefits.  It is actually a violation of Illinois law to discriminate against an employee in any way for exercising a right to claim workers’ compensation benefits.

Or your employer may tell you that you are not entitled to workers’ compensation benefits because you are an independent contractor and not an employee.  If this classification is accurate, then your employer is correct.  But employers can incorrectly convince employees that they are independent contractors, so they can avoid paying benefits.  You don’t have to just accept that you’re not an employee, if you believe you are. 

All of these situations can be difficult and stressful.  If you are facing this issue, please contact us and we would be happy to answer any of your questions.

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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Reason # 846 to hire an Illinois workers' compensation attorney

Not everyone needs an attorney and probably three times a week someone calls us who wants to hire us and we tell them that they don’t need us.  Usually this is someone with a minor injury or a person that hasn’t even begun treating with a doctor yet.

Other times people try to handle a case on their own.  The insurance company doesn’t have to offer a settlement and when they do and you don’t have a lawyer, it’s almost always less than what you would have received with a lawyer, even after our 20% fee is taken in to account.

And in some cases, not only do we get more money for the client than they could get on their own, but we also find hidden benefits.

Recently we began representing a person with a very serious injury that is going to require a career change.  In reviewing his medical records, we discovered an older work related injury that he hadn’t filed a claim on.  We were able to settle that case for $18,000 and the other case is still going.  Had he not gone to an attorney he wouldn’t have received a penny.

More common is that we begin to represent a client and discover that the pay rate for their claim is way too low, usually because the person who calculated it didn’t do it correctly or they forgot to include additional employment wages at another company.  There have been numerous times where our attorneys have stepped in to a case and immediately obtained thousands of dollars for a client by simply making a phone call.  This is money that would have been otherwise lost.

So you don’t always need an attorney, but if you have an injury that’s going to take a while to treat with a doctor, you probably do need one.  An experienced Illinois workers' compensation law firm can save you thousands. Even if the reasons for it aren’t obvious to you right away.

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.

Where Do I Go For My Illinois Workers' Compensation Case?

Common question…it goes something like this:  I live in Evanston, I was injured while working at my job in Skokie.  Can I file my workers’ compensation case at the courthouse in Skokie?  The answer to that is no.  By Illinois law, your claim would have to be filed downtown at the Thomson Center.

The Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission is responsible for handling the workers’ compensation cases throughout the state of Illinois.  The main location for the Commission is in Chicago, and all the cases originate there.  The cases are then assigned to be heard at an office closest to where the injury happened.  If the injury happened outside of Illinois, then the office closest to your home will hear the case. 

There are hearing locations throughout Illinois.  For Cook County cases, your case will be heard in Chicago, even though you may have been injured at a job which is close to the courthouse in Skokie or Rolling Meadows.  Similarly, if you are hurt in DuPage County, your case will be heard in Wheaton.  And if you are hurt in Lake County, your case will be heard in Waukegan.  Some of the other hearing locations include Rockford, Peoria, and Decatur, to name a few.

Because the cases are not heard in every suburban courthouse, most lawyers that concentrate their practice representing injured workers will have their office close to the hearing locations.  If a lawyer will be handling cases for clients in Chicago every day, they would be most likely to have a downtown office.  Our firm has a network of workers’ compensation attorneys that are located throughout Illinois, and situated to be able to handle cases at the many hearing locations.  When you contact us, we figure out which lawyer is best for you and part of that analysis has to do with the amount of experience the attorney has before the Arbitrator who will hear the case if it goes to trial.

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.


Living Out-Of-State, Bringing Your Work Comp Case in Illinois

Illinois workers’ compensation laws do not just cover workers who live in Illinois or who work every day in Illinois.  Depending on other factors about your work and your injury, you may be able to bring your case in Illinois, even if you live and mostly work out-of-state.  This may be beneficial, as several Illinois workers’ compensation laws are favorable to workers.

Starting your first day on the job, you are covered under Illinois workers’ compensation law if you were injured while working in Illinois, you were hired in Illinois, or your employment was primarily located in Illinois.  What this means, is that under many different scenarios, you could have very limited contact with the state, and still be able to benefit from the Illinois workers’ compensation system.

For example, you may be a truck driver that lives in Texas, and only occasionally passes through Illinois for your job.  If you are injured in Illinois while driving your truck for work on your first time here, you are covered by Illinois workers’ compensation, even if your company is located in another state. 

Changing the facts a bit:  You are a truck driver that lives in Texas, and you were hired by an Illinois company.  Even if you never even drove through Illinois, but only were here for an interview and hired, or for a required physical and then took the job; you would still be covered under Illinois workers’ compensation.  This is true regardless of where your work injury occurred.

Illinois law protects the rights of injured workers who sometimes may seem to have minimal connections to the state.  As long as the work connection comes within the law’s requirements, you can choose to bring your case here.

Bottom line is to make sure you explore your options.  The insurance company doesn’t control what state your case can be filed in, the law does.  And if you have more than one choice, the state where you file it is up to you.

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.

 

New law limits your choice of doctors

The new Illinois workers' compensation laws include a pretty big change in how injured workers choose their doctors.

Under the old law, an injured worker was entitled to two choices of doctors. Each choice included any additional health care providers that your doctor referred you to (surgeons, specialists, therapists). This is known as a chain of referrals, and you were entitled to two chains.

You still technically get two chains of referrals, but there is a catch. The new law allows employers to set up preferred provider networks, which is basically a list of doctors you have to choose from.

You can opt out. The law says you are entitled to reject the preferred providers of your employer, but there is a penalty. If you opt out of the network, you only get ONE choice of doctor. Opting out of the network costs you one of your picks. Your one choice still includes that doctor’s referrals, but that’s it.

So the new law limits the doctors available to you, and restricts your ability to change doctors. Employers aren’t required to have preferred provider networks, but they certainly have incentive to enroll in the program – it saves them (and their insurance company) money to have contracts with select doctors.

Like most of the recent changes in the workers’ comp laws, this one helps businesses and insurers and hurts injured workers. Having two choices is important because not every doctor-patient match is a good one. If it becomes clear that they aren’t the right doctor for you, you might not have any recourse.

Some exceptions to the rule: If your injury requires a specialist that is not available in your employer’s preferred provider network, you may be able to argue for an exception. Also, the workers’ compensation commission can approve a third choice of doctors if you file a petition and can show that the treatment you are receiving in-network is improper or inadequate.

The bottom line is that if your employer has a preferred provider network, you will have a list of doctors to choose from. If you choose to go outside of the network, it counts as one of your choices, and you will have only one left.   So be careful in order to avoid getting stuck with a bunch of medical bills.

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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Remembering 9-11-01

Life really was different before 9-11-01.  Just a couple years before that day, I remember showing up to O'Hare for a flight having lost my paper ticket and not having ID on me (don't worry, that little tid bit has nothing to do with how I handle cases :)).  Of course I was able to get a new ticket and walk on the plane.

One the morning of September 11th I arrived at the Illinois Worker's Compensation Commission in Chicago. Around the time I arrived, it was being closed down for the day and no one knew why.  That had never happened before.   I'm sure that there were some irate people who didn't get to trial that day who were pissed off, only to later discover that this was of course a very reasonable thing to do.

I got back to my office and a bunch of attorneys and staff were gathered around a TV, watching the news.  It was so surreal and unexpected that we just assumed a pilot had made a really awful error.  None of us thought immediately that this was an act of war against the USA which certainly changed how we first viewed this terrible day.

When the 2nd and 3rd planes hit, we certainly knew this was no accident.  Our building quickly closed as did every building around us.  The trains were packed and since I had been planning on running after work, I decided to run home that day.  I found myself glancing back over and over at the Sears Tower and Hancock Building, hoping and praying that I wouldn't soon see a plane hit one of them. 

I quickly got home and no matter how many times we saw those planes hit the buildings and the tragic losses of life, it never got easier to watch. 

It's amazing to think that 10 years since that day have passed.  Here's hoping that in our lifetimes we never have to deal with such a tragic, unjust day again.  And here's hoping that our Government steps up and finishes the promise to take care of EVERYONE who became ill or injured due to their selfless, heroic actions that day.

 

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Illinois work comp: What a difference a step makes...

Accidental falls can happen while doing almost anything at work.

They can catch you by surprise and leave you with an injury requiring time and money to recover.

But exactly where and how you fall can make the difference as to whether you can recover workers’ compensation benefits to pay for your recovery from the injury.

In a recent case in Illinois, a worker who was a cement mixer injured his knee while he was getting out of his cement truck at work.  At first blush this may seem as though it would be a work-related injury:  he was at work; he was in the process of performing his job; and he was stepping out of his work vehicle and closing the door.  He was not able to receive benefits, though, because as the details of the accident came out, it showed a different story.

When the worker was first questioned about the accident, he said that he fell while stepping out of the truck, and that his left foot had slipped out from under him because of the debris on the ground.  When he was examined further, he clarified that at the point when he fell, he was already out of the truck and standing on both feet.  He had turned to close the door to the truck, and that’s when the fall actually happened.

This difference in step made the difference in his case.  While stepping out of a cement truck is likely an action that is job-specific and would allow for workers’ compensation benefits, turning to close a door does not.  Even though it was the door to his work vehicle, and even though he was in the process of doing his job, he was denied benefits.  Turning to close the door to his truck was not a risk that was any different than a risk faced by anyone in the general public, and therefore it was not a work-related injury.

Looking at potential work injuries like this one, you have to apply that kind of comparison, between the risk exposure of the worker in particular and the risk exposure that anyone would face.  This helps to isolate what makes certain actions job-specific characteristics or not.  Illinois cases have said that just because a worker wouldn’t have been in the place he was at that moment if he wasn’t performing his job, that’s not necessarily enough for it to be a work-injury. 

In the cement mixer’s case, where there was no evidence that there was anything wrong or unusual about the pavement he was standing on, the difference between whether he was taking a step down out of the truck, or he was turning while two feet were down, is pivotal for the workers’ compensation outcome.

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.

Work injury, then injured again...who pays?

Sometimes a situation that starts our clear can end up muddy.  You are injured at work.  Workers’ compensation is providing you benefits while you are out of work and going through medical treatment to recover.  But then…another non-work incident happens which affects your work injury.  The question arises:  will workers’ compensation continue to cover your original injury, or has the new accident gotten in the way of your benefits?

In Illinois workers’ compensation, once it’s been determined that your injury was work-related, you are generally entitled to benefits to compensate you for that injury.  And the Illinois courts are not so quick to take those benefits away from you, just because some other accident or event happened while you were trying to recover.

After all, sometimes a second injury is more likely to happen, because of the weakened condition you were left in from the work injury.  There is some expectation that, even if you’re being very cautious, your first injury makes you more susceptible to experiencing some event which can either aggravate your old injury or cause a new injury.

Sometimes, though, the second incident that happens is not a consequence of your work injury at all.  Some other random event happens, such as a car accident, that affects your recovery from your original injury.  Even where the car accident was not caused by the work injury and the accident made your injury worse, workers’ compensation benefits have not been cut off. 

In cases like the unrelated car accident, the important question is whether the chain has been broken that links the work accident to the most recent injury status.  If there is an unrelated event in the chain while you’re recovering, it may shake the chain around a bit, but not necessarily break it.  You have to look at whether the current injury would not have happened the way it did, if there hadn’t been the original work injury. 

In the case of the unrelated car accident, even though the injured workers’ condition was made worse by the accident, had he not had the original injury, the car accident would not have had the same effect as it did.  He hadn’t fully recovered from his work injury, so he was more susceptible to the complications to his health that happened after the car accident.  

In other words, but for the fact that you had the first injury that was work-related, the second accident or event wouldn’t have caused the same harm to you that it did.   The non-employment event won’t break the chain of the employment injury, as long as your employment is still a factor in causing your current injury. 

You should, therefore, be able to continue to receive your workers’ compensation benefits for your work-related injury, even if you have had a subsequent injury—whether or not the second injury was caused by the first.  If there is a connection between your current condition and your original employment injury, then the intervening incident shouldn’t cut off your benefits.

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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Is the Illinois Workers' Compensation Commission About To Explode?

New laws went in to effect the other day that change the way Illinois work injuries are dealt with.  Since it's only been one week for most of the changes, nobody really knows what difference they have made if any.

But according to the rumor mill, at least 11 current Arbitrators are going to lose their jobs.  This will certainly change the home court advantage for a while, at least depending on who is appointed to replace them.

It will be really interesting to see what happens, but it could be that the Democrats in Illinois are really selling out their base.  What I don't get is how they expect inexperienced Arbitrators to handle both new cases with new rules (mostly injuries on or after 9-1-11) along with the hundreds of thousands of old ones that are still pending.

Like the current Arbitrators or not, they certainly are best prepared to deal with the old rules.  Things are about to go crazy at the Commission it seems.

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.

Some employers are just scumbags

Most employers are normal people like you and me.  But every now and then you come across one that makes you question how they look themselves in the mirror every day.

Long story short is a downstate painting company hired a college kid for cash and provided him no job training.  He ends up on a scaffold and gets electrocuted and dies because he gets absolutely no training.

The owners of the company tell the family that they are really sorry, but since they were paying cash he's not an employee.  Apparently someone told them that if he's not an employee they could be sued for negligence so they then call the family back and say, by George he was an employee.  But of course they knew that he died without a wife or kids so all that could be gained is the medical bills and funeral costs.

I referred them to an Illinois wrongful death lawyer and I hope they take this company to the cleaners.  The first thing this company did was figure out how to cover their own ass.  They were ripping off the Government by paying the kid cash, they failed to train the kid and as a result he died.  And when the company realizes that their initial lies might cost them, they make up another bunch of lies.

We'll see how this one turns out, but I don't that I'll ever have a case where I'm rooting this much for a verdict against the wrong doer.  If karma exists, they'll get nailed.

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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You are probably not that unusual

We are representing someone who hurt their neck and called us for a Glenview workers' compensation attorney.  She was very panicked at the initial call because she felt her case was unique.

Every case is unique in that no two cases are exactly alike, but it's only once in a blue moon that we hear facts that are so unique that it makes the case difficult to handle.

I won't get in to too many details about our client, but the general gist is that she's worked at the same place for a long time and her boss was pressuring her to lie to the doctor and state that her injury was not work related.  She was smart enough not to do that, but did pay for some medical treatment out of her own pocket.  That's not a huge issue as I'm confident we'll get her reimbursed for those expenses.

The point is that if you are an attorney who handles only (or almost only) work injury cases, there rarely is a situation you haven't seen before.  And we created our network of like minded attorneys throughout the state to make sure that no matter who contacts us, we aren't reinventing the wheel so to speak.  If we recommend a lawyer for you, we believe in that person and their abilities.  When the rare occasion occurs that a situation stumps us, having a large group of lawyers to discuss the facts with allows us to provide better representation.

So please relax and don't panic.  You may have a hard case or some hurdles to overcome, but the odds are that you are not dealing with a situation that hasn't been dealt with before successfully.  And if you are that one unusual person with unique facts, it's all the better because those are exciting cases for a lawyer.

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

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A New One For Me

So the other day I got a call from a woman who was looking for help in regards to the torn rotator cuff she sustained from a job injury in Chicago.  It was a pretty typical call in terms of her describing the accident, how she was sent to an IME doctor and the disagreement she was having with the insurance company.  Her case had issues, but it was nothing we don't see on a daily basis.

I was just about to discuss a meeting with her when she added one fact that shocked me.  It was something I haven't heard in my 14+ years of doing this.  Her case had gone to trial, the day before, and now she realized that she hired the wrong attorney and wanted a new one.

Uhm, I don't know who the best lawyer ever is, but even that person wouldn't have been able to do something for this woman.  Once your case goes to trial, that is it.  You wait for the Arbitrator's decision and go from there.  No new evidence can be presented and you don't get a do over.

I was honestly shocked because she casually mentioned it as if it wasn't a big deal.  I never blame a client for being naive about the process - I certainly am naive to many of my client's jobs - but this was really shocking.

The moral of the story is that if you are feeling un-easy that the lawyer you hired won't fight for you, if you don't switch before the trial (or even depositions) takes place, it is probably too late.

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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The new Illinois workers' compensation laws start today

Earlier this year, the Illinois government decided to change the workers' compensation system.  It affects injuries that occur as of today or later.  So if you are reading this post and got hurt before September 1, 2011, you are playing by the old rules.

For cases from injuries that happened today or later, the honest answer is that no one knows exactly what is going to happen.  I personally don't think the values of cases should change other than carpal tunnel which was specifically targeted by legislators.  If you are undergoing a wage loss from a job change, the value of your case will definitely drop as you are only eligible for benefits up to age 67 or for five years, whichever is longer.

Doctors will certainly get less, but they have been making out like bandits for years under this system so we don't feel too sorry for them.

For you as a worker that gets injured, nothing important has changed as far as how you should act.  If you get hurt, you should report it to your employer.   If you go to the doctor, you need to tell them how the injury happened.  And during the claim, if you are honest things should work out fine.

Whatever you do, don't let an insurance company adjuster tell you that the system has changed to the point that you have lost rights.  You haven't and just as before, good lawyers will protect their clients as the Illinois workers' compensation laws are designed to protect workers.

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.