Most Illinois work injuries involve an injury that gets better with the employee returning to work. That typically leads to a settlement and everyone moving on with their lives.
In some cases the injuries are so severe that they lead to permanent restrictions or a claim by your doctor that you are not able to work at all. If you have restrictions that your employer can’t accommodate, what type of settlement you will get depends on whether or not you can do work for anyone else.
If there is no reasonable job market for you, you are considered under Illinois law to be permanently and totally disabled (PTD). This could be because your injury is so severe that you can barely travel. A former client of mine had two back fusions and was left with restrictions which prevented him from being in a seated position for more than ten minutes. He was from a rural area so needless to say, getting to an employer was a big problem because he’d have to stop four times on his 45 minute commute and even then he would have needed the ability to lay down at work. The only possible job for him was working from home.
My client’s employer didn’t have a work from home job for him so he began to look for work on his own. At my instruction he contacted 5-10 different employers a day and filled out applications or called for interviews whenever possible. He kept a job log which showed over a period of many months that he reached out to hundreds of employers without success.
It’s one thing for an insurance company to say that you can do a job. It’s another to prove whether it’s true or not. My client had a very credible job search which lead to nothing. The case ended up settling for a very large sum, but if it had gone to trial I’m 100% confident that the Arbitrator would have found that he had proved that there are no jobs out there for someone in his condition.
The point is that you just as you can’t say you are too hurt to work (a doctor needs to say that), you can’t just say that there is no work for you. You have to do a reasonable job search and try to get employment. My client really did want work so when the insurance company contacted the prospective employers he applied to, they realized his efforts were legit and he essentially won the case for himself.
There is one exception to proving this. If you are an older worker with a limited job history and education, if it is obvious that there’s no work for you, that might be enough. You should still do a job search and keep track of it, but most Arbitrators aren’t going to expect a 60 year old who has only worked in a factory, didn’t graduate from high school and speaks little English to obtain a new line of work with a ten pound lifting restriction.
If you are permanently disabled, the benefit is up to $1,435 a week for the duration of your disability which is likely until you pass away. Once you show that you’ve made a real job search, it’s up to your employer to prove that you didn’t.
There are some cases where you don’t need a lawyer, but if your injury is this serious you absolutely need an attorney in your corner. I promise you that the insurance company will be doing whatever they can to limit your payout.
Questions? Concerns? Call us any time for free at (312) 346-5578. We help everywhere in Illinois.