Truck driver wins argument that he was employee, not independent contractor

An Illinois court of appeals recently confirmed a decision by the Workers’ Compensation Commission that a truck driver was an employee, despite the trucking company’s argument that he was an independent contractor who was not eligible for workers’ compensation benefits. Under Illinois law, only employees are entitled to benefits, such as payment for medical bills and lost wages. So, whether you are an employee or an independent contractor has serious implications if you are injured on the job.

The general rule is that the more control your employer has over your work the more likely it is that you are an employee, and less control points to independent contractor status. This recent case is important for injured workers in Illinois. The truck driver had signed an independent contractor agreement and was paid as an independent contractor (no taxes deducted). Despite this evidence, the arbitrator found it more important that the truck driver was treated like an employee when he was working.

The policies that were applied to the driver and the way his work was controlled were key factors in the decision. The driver drove company trucks; the company paid for fuel and tolls and provided log books; the company required the driver to get prior authorization for any truck repairs; the driver called in regularly to check if work was available; and the driver was paid on Fridays, which was pay day for company employees.

The arbitrator determined that the company had sufficient control over the driver’s work to put him in the category of employee rather than independent contractor. The arbitrator found the signed independent contractor agreement invalid because the driver did not speak English. The driver was awarded temporary total disability (TTD) payments, which gives workers a portion of their wages while they are unable to work.

The label that your employer puts on your job or position is not always accurate. In some cases, the employer might be trying to get around the law by using the term “independent contractor” much too broadly. Other times, the employer might not know the difference.

The bottom line is that the way your work is controlled is more important that your job title. It’s not always crystal clear, which is why it’s a good idea to talk to a workers’ comp attorney if you have questions, especially if your benefits are denied because your employer claims you’re an independent contractor.

We are workers' compensation attorneys who 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.

By Michael Helfand

Why do some Illinois work comp attorneys give such bad service

Attorneys are in the customer service business. It’s not taught in law school, but if you don’t treat a client well, the case isn’t going to go well. And if you have an unhappy client they will probably fire you and certainly won’t recommend you to friends, which is the best compliment you can receive.

Every lawyer knows this, but check out some calls I’ve received from people that aren’t happy with their lawyer (note, these are complaints about other offices, not mine or anyone I work with).

  • We went to trial January 7th. How do I find out what happens next. My lawyer didn’t tell me anything.
  • I just found out my lawyer left the firm three months ago.
  • I’ve called my attorney four times in the last month and not once did he call me back.
  • In the year I’ve been with this firm, four different lawyers have been assigned to my case.
  • My attorney told me I was stupid.
  • I think my attorney was drunk.
  • The lawyer they assigned to me has only been licensed to practice for two months.
  • I was told the main partner was going to handle my case, but it’s really his young associate that is doing everything.
  • My attorney didn’t show up to court.
  • The lawyer told me when we first met that my case was worth $100,000 and now he wants me to settle for $5,000.
  • None of this stuff should happen. It’s all from lawyers being lazy, having bad attitudes, not caring about their clients or flat out being liars. It’s pathetic.

I never promise a caller a result, but I do guarantee that no one we recommend or work with on cases would do anything like this. And if they did, they’d be gone.

You as a client have to look out for you. Don’t hire lawyers that show some of these signs of bad service. If they start great, but end up not being what they said they would be, get rid of them. It doesn’t cost you anything and hopefully can save your case.

When you have a serious work related injury, it’s almost as if your life is on the line. You deserve a lawyer who will understand that AND prove it in how they represent you.

We are workers' compensation attorneys who 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.

1/29/13

 

Here's something you should never do if you have an Illinois job injury

An attorney I’m friends with related a story about a case he was working on. The injured worker was getting injections in to his back for a chronic injury. He went to his doctor and said, “If this doesn’t work I’m going to come back and kill you” and apparently he didn’t say it in a very joking manner.

The cops were called and of course the doctor fired the patient and barred him from the office. Yes, a doctor can fire you if they want.

As someone who has a torn rotator cuff and has had back and knee injuries over the years (none of them work related), I can certainly understand how frustrating it is when an injury does not heal. But threatening a doctor is going to do nothing, but land you in jail. Same is true if you threaten the insurance adjuster, other lawyer or anyone else. And even if you don’t land in jail, it makes you look crazy to the Arbitrator. I’ve seen plenty of cases lost because armed security was needed because people were scared that the worker would hurt someone (no one I’ve represented fortunately).

Personally, I would fire any client that did this and every lawyer I work with would too. It’s just not worth the hassle. We fight for our clients, but don’t want clients who fight.

So even if it will make you feel better to vent, don’t do it in a threatening way. Feel free to tell your doctor how frustrated you are. Feel free to tell me. I’ve had days when my job isn’t to be an attorney, but to just be a friend and listen. We are happy to do that. But we’ll also tell you when you are wrong. And if you threaten anyone you are not only wrong, you are ruining your case.

We are workers' compensation attorneys who 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.

1/27/13

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Illinois workers' compensation - don't give a recorded statement

A reader asks:

I fell on a tarp that was covering carpet at my office. It was there for construction and as I fell I grabbed the railing and felt a terrible pain in my shoulder. My doctor thinks that I tore my rotator cuff and wants me to get a MRI. The insurance adjuster told me that she will not authorize any treatment until I give a recorded statement about what happened. Should I do this?

The answer is always NO. Even in a case like this where the injured worker is clearly hurt on the job, recorded statements exist for only one reason. It gives an insurance adjuster a chance to twist your words against you. Insurance companies make money by not paying out claims that they should pay out. So in a case like this, if the adjuster can get the worker to state that they really aren’t 100% sure why they fell, that would be enough to deny the claim and potentially save the insurance company tens of thousands in medical bills they don’t have to pay.

In a case like this, we call the insurance adjusters and tell them that our client will not be giving a recorded statement. We will answer any questions the adjuster has. Anything we say can not be used as evidence. Anything you say, even if it gets twisted, can be used against you in an arbitration hearing or to deny your benefits.

No one would assume that an insurance company has bad intentions by asking what happened in the accident (or maybe they would assume that), but there is no reason they take these statements other than to try to come up with a reason to deny you.

So don’t talk. It can’t help you, even if you are honest. And remember, your benefits can’t legally be denied for not talking and if they are denied there are things we can do to turn the case around while still protecting your rights.

We are workers' compensation attorneys who 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.

1/25/13

Getting a copy of your IME report in Illinois work comp

An Independent Medical Exam, or IME, is an exam performed by a doctor who is not your regular doctor. An injured worker can request an IME, but more often the employer or insurance company requests it when there is a dispute about your condition or the amount of benefits you are receiving, or in preparation for trial or settlement.

In Illinois, injured workers are allowed to choose their treating physician. However, the insurance company can use these independent exams to get a second opinion, particularly one that they hope will support their position. The IME doctor will not be treating you. They are just providing an expert opinion. The insurance company pays for the IME, including travel and expenses, and it should be scheduled at a time and place that is reasonable for you.

Regardless of who requests the IME, the independent doctor will produce a report with his or her findings, and you are entitled to a copy of that report. It might include their opinion on how you were injured and whether it is work related, how serious your injury is, whether it is permanent and whether you can return to work. The report is very important to your case. If you don’t get a copy from the insurance company, request one. If they delay or refuse, your attorney can subpoena a copy. For Illinois workers’ compensation attorneys, using a subpoena is routine. It only costs us about $20 to do this for clients.

If the insurance company is holding back on the IME report, chances are it’s because it’s in your favor. If you discover that’s true it will greatly help your case. In other words, it’s important to get a copy. The doctor doesn’t work for you so they don’t have to give you one, but they can’t ignore a subpoena from a lawyer.

Under Illinois law, if you file a claim for workers’ compensation, then you are required to attend an IME if one is requested. If you refuse, you could lose your benefits. However, don’t go into an IME unprepared. You should be given a reasonable amount of notice, and you should talk to your attorney about what to expect at your IME. As for the report, you can and should get a copy, so don’t give up. It’s a simple task for an experienced work injury attorney, and the bottom line is that a favorable IME report can put your case in a great position.

We are workers' compensation attorneys who 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.

1/23/13

A huge factor in winning your Illinois workers' compensation claim

There are literally hundreds of reasons that you can win or lose your claim for benefits. Here are some reasons you’ll win: 1. Witnesses saw the accident. 2. Your doctor is respected and in your corner. 3. The accident was reported in a timely manner. Here are some big reasons why you’ll lose: 1. Surveillance video of you shows that you were lying to the doctor about your injuries. 2. The IME doctor is more believable than your doctor. 3. Your injury isn’t covered under Illinois law.

But above all the possible reasons for winning or losing, the biggest factor can be summed up in one word: credibility. How reliable are you? Do you seem like someone that would b.s. people, embellish an injury or make stuff up? Or do you come off as trustworthy and honest.

I thought of this recently when I was called by a carpenter who had badly messed up his leg when he fell off a ladder at work. He’s had a lot of bumps and bruises over the years, but despite the somewhat risky nature of his job, he had never filed a workers’ compensation claim. He’s a workaholic and the last thing he wants is to be injured.

Despite his history of being a great worker, the employer and insurance company are screwing with him. He was smart and got an attorney to be in his corner and look out for his best interests.

I don’t have all the facts on this case, but even without them I’ll bet that he will win because he’s clearly not someone looking for a quick buck. If we took his case to trial the first thing I would do is go over his long career and excellent safety history. Showing his work ethic really displays to an Arbitrator how credible he is. If the case ends up being a close call, that extra credibility will most likely swing things in his favor.

Compare him to the worker that called me a day before this guy. He had filed at least 10 prior cases despite being a fairly young guy. The insurance company was fighting case #11. He looks like someone who makes getting hurt on the job part of the job. Maybe he’s legit, maybe not, but he certainly doesn’t look like it.

If you are an Arbitrator and have to compare these two, one will stand out as slimy and the other will stand out as being a good guy. That doesn’t mean that the guy who has brought a ton of cases can’t ever get legitimately hurt again, but it does mean that he could be creating some trouble for himself.

We are workers' compensation attorneys who 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.

1/21/13

Reason # 7,647 not to get a lawyer from your doctor

There are a lot of doctors and workers comp attorneys in Illinois that are desperate for business. They are so desperate (or unethical) that they strike deals with each other. “You send me your clients, I’ll send you my patients” and vice versa.

We get approached all of the time from physicians who want to “help” my clients and in return tell me that I can “help” their patients who have been injured on the job. I always tell them that they are welcome to recommend their patients to me if they believe that I will do the best job for them, but I will never direct my clients to them or anyone else as it’s not the right thing to do and can blow up a case. That doesn’t mean we won’t recommend a physician if we are asked or offer an opinion on a doctor, but I will never, ever tell some injured worker that they must treat with a doctor that I know.

Unfortunately, there are plenty of docs and law firms that only care about their pocket book. That doesn’t mean that they are bad at their jobs, but does indicate that they won’t put you first over the relationship with their referral source. Often these “professionals” tell their clients that they have to work with the person they are recommending. It’s simply not a choice.

I saw this recently when a woman came to me with a severe neck injury. She had some attorney who I never had heard of. I looked him up and his office was very far from the courthouse (bad sign) and boasted of the millions that he had recovered for his clients (although he didn’t list any actual case results to back that up). Anyway, she got to him because her doctor recommended him. She wants to sue that doctor for a bad malpractice screw up and her work comp attorney told her that he wouldn’t allow it and that if she did that he would drop her as a client.

I can’t think of a better example of the slippery slope these lawyer/doctor relationships create than this one. The injured worker is reaching out to her attorney for help and she is basically told to buzz off. He doesn’t care about her, he cares about the next 20 clients this doc can send.

Her problem is solvable by switching lawyers, but it’s really not a problem that she ever should have had at all. There is certainly no way to guarantee that your attorney will look out for you, but when your doctor is telling you that you have to work with a certain lawyer, it’s a sign that they care about each other way more than they will ever care about you.

We are workers' compensation attorneys who 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.

By Michael Helfand

Foot injury from standing at work in Illinois

Many different types of employees are on their feet for the majority of their shift or workday. From cashiers and others in retail or hospitality, to those doing physical labor, workers who stand a lot are susceptible to foot pain as a result. However, many of these cases are not considered workers’ compensation cases.

When your injury is caused by standing for long periods of time, it’s not considered an injury that is unique to your job. This is true even if your job requires you to stand most of the day. The rationale is that standing does not put you at any sort of increased risk for injury. The law basically says that you are not facing a greater risk than anyone else in the general public.

There are exceptions. In cases where your work environment or other restrictions or requirements make standing more risky, it can be classified as a workers’ compensation situation. If you are required to wear certain shoes that caused your foot condition, or if you are required to stand on uneven ground or in a strange position that isn’t good for your body, then you might have a claim and be eligible for benefits.

The general rule is that any injury that comes out of the course of your employment is a workers’ compensation injury, meaning that you can get benefits (payment for medical expenses and time off work). However, standing at work often misses this category because of the idea that you are not at higher risk. The same is true for injuries that happen when you’re physically at work but have little to do with actually doing your job, such as a heart attack while sitting at your desk.

If you have questions about whether your foot injury would be considered a workers’ compensation issue, let us know. Despite what we’ve said here, it’s important to get the advice of someone who handles work injury cases rather than deciding for yourself that you don’t have a case.

We are workers' compensation attorneys who 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.

By Michael Helfand

Injured again after an Illinois workers' compensation settlement

When you sign a settlement agreement with the insurance company, you almost always waive your right to future medical coverage. This is the risk you take. If your pain comes back or if you need surgery later in life, you can’t go back and ask for more money. This is one reason why it’s important to consult with an attorney if you plan to settle. A settlement is a give and take and you want to make sure you’re doing what’s in your best interests. There are ways to keep medical coverage open if it makes sense in your case.

So if you settle your claim but the pain comes back, you might be out of luck. But if something happens that causes you to re-injure yourself, such as a slip and fall, it might be a different story. If you re-injure the same part of your body, you can file a claim. However, your compensation for that injury will be reduced because your previous settlement payment will be taken into account.

If you injure a completely different part of your body, you can file a claim and it should not be affected by a prior settlement. So if you settled your claim for a neck injury a few years ago, but then break your foot, you should be covered.

These cases get a bit confusing, and hopefully we haven’t confused you more. It’s one of those instances where talking to an attorney can make a big difference. An initial consultation shouldn’t cost you anything and it’s the best way to learn what your options are and what’s realistic to expect. It’s not uncommon for insurance companies to deny claims. They do it all the time, especially for cases that aren’t as clear-cut, such as a re-injury case. An experienced attorney can help you get your claim approved.

We are workers' compensation attorneys who 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.

By Michael Helfand

8 ways to help your Illinois workers' compensation case

There are things you should do, and things you really shouldn’t do. Unfortunately, some people don’t stop to think about this after they get hurt at work. Here are some basic things to keep in mind when deciding how to handle your workers’ compensation case.

  1. Notify your employer. If you get hurt at work, tell your boss or supervisor as soon as possible. Do this in writing and include the date. Consider keeping some notes or a journal for yourself on what happened, who was there, etc.
  2. See a doctor. Your health is the most important thing in all of this. Seeing a doctor right away also helps your case.
  3. Be honest with the doctor. Tell your doctor how you were injured. They need to know it was work related.
  4. Listen to the doctor. If the doctor gives you restrictions or tells you not to do certain things, like yard work or golf, obey the doctor’s orders. If you get caught by the insurance company doing what you supposedly can’t do (and they do check), you could ruin your case.
  5. File a claim. Even if your case is straightforward and you begin receiving benefits without a formal claim, file one anyway. Just because your case started out smoothly does not mean it will continue that way. If the insurance company cuts off your benefits unexpectedly and you need to request a hearing, having a claim on file will give you a head start.
  6. Talk to an attorney. If you have a serious injury, if you aren’t receiving benefits or you believe you aren’t getting all the benefits you should be getting, get the advice of an experienced workers’ compensation attorney. They will meet with you for free.
  7. Keep talking to your attorney. Keep your attorney informed of any changes in your case, including your health and medical treatment. Do not speak with the insurance company.
  8. Follow through. If your benefits stop, if your pain gets worse, if your employer threatens to fire you because of your inability to come to work, don’t be discouraged or frightened. You are entitled to benefits if you are injured at work and your employer is not allowed to fire you for seeking those benefits.

We are workers' compensation attorneys who 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.

By Michael Helfand

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What is a Functional Capacity Evaluation?

A Functional Capacity Evaluation, or FCE, is a test that is performed at the end of treatment to determine what, if any, restrictions a worker has in terms of the ability to perform his or her job. These tests usually require a prescription from a doctor, although the initial recommendation may come from your attorney, the insurance company or your employer.

Once your doctor declares that you are as good as you are going to get, there may still be questions about your ability to do your job as fully as you once did. Many times, workers fully recover from their work injuries and this isn’t a question. Or perhaps the job is not physically demanding and the issue doesn’t really come up. In other cases, however, an FCE is an important step in finalizing your claim.

The evaluator will assess what your job duties are and then test your ability to perform them. For example, if you have to lift heavy boxes, the evaluator will test your ability to lift and look at any limitations you might have. This information is not only useful for you and your employer but it can help in settling your case, as well. If you have a permanent injury or restriction, it can affect the value of your case. Even if it’s clear to you that you cannot fully perform your job any longer, the insurance company is not going to take your word for it. An FCE can back up your claims.

An FCE is a pivotal step in your workers’ compensation claim. Make sure you have an experienced attorney guiding you through the process.

We are workers' compensation attorneys who 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.

By Michael Helfand

After a work injury, the clock starts ticking

Workers’ compensation law in Illinois is considered fairly favorable to injured workers, especially when compared to the laws in other states. However, your right to benefits under our state’s system does not remain open indefinitely.

The statute of limitations on filing a claim for workers’ comp is three years from the date you were injured. This is the deadline. If you don’t file by this time, your claim can be denied and you might not get a second chance.

There are a few exceptions and special circumstances. If you have received benefits already, your deadline is two years from the date of the last benefits you were paid. Sometimes, insurance companies start paying and then stop, even though the worker is not fully recovered and should still be receiving payments or medical coverage. In these cases, the deadline for filing a claim and fighting to get the benefits you’re owed is two years.

If you have a repetitive stress injury that developed over time, you may not know the exact date of your injury. So when does the clock start ticking in these cases? Usually the answer is the date you knew your injury was work related or the date you should have known. This could be the day your doctor tells you that your arm pain is carpal tunnel syndrome, for example.

The best rule to follow is to get medical advice, and then legal advice, sooner rather than later. You don’t want to risk waiting too long. Some work injuries are quite serious, or become serious over time. They can affect your ability to keep your job, earn a living and support your family. You have a right to certain benefits. It’s up to you – and your attorney – to make sure you get what you’re entitled to.

We are workers' compensation attorneys who 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.

By Michael Helfand

Special considerations for carpal tunnel and other repetitive motion injuries

Workers’ compensation in Illinois provides benefits, such as coverage of medical expenses and payment for lost wages, for workers who are injured on the job. You do not have to file a lawsuit and go to court or prove anything against your employer to get these benefits – they are yours according to Illinois law.

Many different types of injuries that happen at work are considered work injuries for the purposes of qualifying for benefits, including repetitive stress injuries such as carpal tunnel syndrome. These are different from one-time injuries such as a fall off a ladder. Repetitive stress injuries occur over time from doing the same motion over and over. Carpal tunnel is commonly known to be caused by excessive typing, but assembly line work can result in the condition, as well. Similarly, repeated lifting and/or twisting motions can cause repetitive stress injuries to the neck or back.

As soon as you begin to suspect that you have work related repetitive stress injury, see a doctor. Not only does early treatment benefit your overall health, but it can help you establish your claim for workers’ compensation benefits. If you are unable to perform your job, if you need surgery or if you are permanently disabled as a result, you should be compensated.

Your medical bills should be covered 100%, so long as your treatment is reasonable and related to your injury. If you have a pre-existing condition, such as a prior back injury, you are not disqualified. If your job made your condition worse or made it flare up again you still should be eligible for workers’ compensation payments.

Your employer or their insurance company may deny your claim. Don’t worry – this happens all the time. It’s in their best interest to avoid paying out benefits, because it costs them money. So if you get a denial, don’t give up. Talk to an experienced workers’ compensation attorney about getting your claim approved and your benefits started.

We are workers' compensation attorneys who 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.

By Michael Helfand

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When the insurance company says your claim is denied, it's not over

We get too many calls from people who get a denial letter from the insurance company and assume they can’t do anything and just give up. Then, they call us years later because a friend urges them to or they start realizing they got tricked, but by then it’s too late.

A denial letter that says something like “We have investigated your case and have determined that your injury is not covered under the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act” is just a form letter. Something about your claim probably prompted them to deny benefits, but it’s by no means a final say in the matter. Often it’s just a tactic to decrease the number of claims the insurance company approves. For them, fewer claims means money saved.

Insurance companies only pay on claims when they have to. They routinely send denial letters to injured workers with the hope that they’ll give up and stop trying. Unfortunately, it works. It’s easy to get frustrated or overwhelmed. Insurance companies play the same games when reducing benefits or offering settlement amounts. They want to pay you less and they’re hoping you won’t know what your claim is really worth. Don’t let it work on you.

This also happens in other types of injury cases where insurance companies are involved, such as car accidents. A person gets rear-ended, through no fault of their own, and the insurance company says the person who hit them wasn’t at fault. They work hard to make you believe they owe you nothing.

If you’ve received a similar letter from your employer’s insurance company, don’t take it at face value. You can get a consultation with a workers’ compensation attorney for free and find out if you actually have a claim worth pursuing. In many cases, an experienced work injury attorney can turn a denial into an acceptance fairly quickly.

We are workers' compensation attorneys who 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.

By Michael Helfand

Special considerations for work-related back injuries

Back injuries are among the most common type of work injury and perhaps some of the most serious. Handling your claim carefully from the beginning can mean the difference between a successful outcome and one that fails to make up for your financial loss and physical suffering.

First of all, get the right kind of treatment. If it’s anything more than a strain, skip the chiropractor and go to an orthopedic doctor. The worst that will happen is they will tell you it’s just a strain. But if it’s something more serious, getting the right kind of help early on helps your back, as well as your claim. We aren’t trying to give you medical advice but rather share our legal perspective. In our experience, arbitrators and judges give more weight to the opinion of a doctor.

In addition, make sure to explain to your doctor exactly how you hurt your back. If it wasn’t a one-time incident, but rather something that developed over time, make sure you still explain how your job may affect your condition. If you don’t inform your doctor about your work, then you can’t expect them to connect the injury to your job. And if they don’t say it’s a work injury then you’ll have trouble getting workers’ compensation.

Another issue that tends to come up is a pre-existing back injury or condition. If you were in an accident years ago and hurt your back, and then you hurt it worse or re-injure it at work, you are still eligible for workers’ compensation. Don’t assume you can’t get benefits because you were already less than perfectly healthy. The law says you are still entitled to benefits, despite what your boss or supervisor might tell you.

We talk to a lot of people suffering from work-related back injuries. If you have any questions, feel free to give us a call.

We are workers' compensation attorneys who 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.

By Michael Helfand

What are wage differential benefits?

After a work injury, you might be unable to do the same job you had been doing for years. This could be a temporary situation or it could be permanent. Some employers are able to accommodate your restrictions by finding you light duty work. You may have to take a different job, which results in less pay. In these situations, where your work injury results in a pay cut, workers’ compensation can make up for part of the difference. This is called wage differential benefits.

Some specific issues to be aware of with wage differential benefits are the length of time you are able to receive them, as well as how they are calculated. Wage differential benefits are 2/3 of the difference between your pre- and post-injury wages. Illinois law says you can collect wage differential checks until the age of 67 or for five years, whichever is longer. If your weekly wages are inconsistent or irregular, then you’ll want to make sure your wage differential is calculated properly and that you’re receiving all that you should. This is a simple request for most workers’ compensation attorneys who have a lot of experience.

A common pitfall is trusting your employer or their insurance adjuster over your own instincts. Sure, they may have more experience than you do, but it’s you who is injured. It’s your family who needs these checks and other benefits. The point is to take control of the situation, talk to an attorney if you need help and make sure you are getting everything you’re entitled to under workers’ compensation law, including wage differential benefits if you are earning less because of a work accident.

We are workers' compensation attorneys who 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.

By Michael Helfand

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