You Are The Only Person That Has To Be Happy With A Settlement

The other day I had a pleasant conversation with a woman for an opinion on the settlement she was offered on her case. She had two knee surgeries and was cleared to return to work as a teacher. The problem is that no job was available for her to return to. She had been offered a good settlement (around $60,000), but all she really wanted was here job back. In fact, she told her lawyer that she’d take half the settlement offer if he could get her job back.

The lawyer was dismissive of her request because of course it would mean less money for him. It’s not typical that a settlement is based on getting re-employed and in this case the woman would be better off going through her union rep to try and get re-hired. But I found it sad that her attorney wouldn’t even make the request of the other side for this to happen. In life, you never know what you can get if you don’t ask for it.

When it comes to settling your case, a lawyer can lay out your best, worst and most likely options if you go to trial as well as the high and low range of settlement. In the end, while we can make recommendations, you have to be the one that lives with the result. If your expectations are unrealistic (e.g. you want to get a million dollars) then the lawyer shouldn’t waste their time with demands to the insurance company that would hurt your case. But if you are worried about future medical care or want to make a request for your job, your lawyer owes it to you to at least try and get the result that will satisfy you.

For an attorney, we want to help people, but of course we are also in business and want to make money for ourselves. In most cases that means fighting for the highest settlement possible. But lawyers can never lose sight of the fact that we represent people and we need to look out for what people want to make themselves happy. If we don’t do that then we are just sellouts and not worthy of this job.

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.

5/8/12

Some Illinois Work Comp Lawyers Will Lie To Make Their Job Easier

A reader asks:

My bro-n-law says that his attorney, that he has for his wc case. Told him that the new wc laws say that you dont get a lump sum settlement anymore. That he will get payments spread out until he turns 75yrs old. And if he should die before he turns 75, the payments will stop. ??????????????   Please, can you explain this to us that are left scratching our heads in confusion?

This one has me scratching my head too.  New work comp laws in Illinois were put in place as of September 2011.  They don’t affect injuries from before that date at all.  There is a new law that limits wage differential benefits for accidents after that date, but that shouldn’t come in to play yet for just about any injury as it would likely be too soon to determine that someone will be a wage differential because we don’t know what their recovery will be.  That new law limits wage differential benefits to the later of when you turn 67 or five years from the date it’s ordered by an Arbitrator, whichever is later.

Sounds to me like the attorney is trying to get the client to settle a case and instead of telling them why to settle, they are making stuff up to convince the client they did the best they could.  Most attorneys don’t do this, but you hear about it every now and then.  A common one is when attorneys say that it takes years to get to trial when in reality they are just too lazy to get a case prepared.

What you should know is that if you were hurt before 9-1-11, unless you have carpal tunnel, for the most part the new work comp laws don’t impact you in any way.  And even if you were hurt after that, the laws haven’t changed that dramatically and handling a case isn’t any harder than it was before.  If your attorney is saying something that leads you to scratch your head there is probably a reason that is true

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.

3/31/12

What is my Illinois workers' compensation case worth? We can tell you what it isn't worth.

A caller who was taken advantage of by an attorney called us recently, very upset.  He had a shoulder surgery and because his wage was low, the settlement amount he was offered - which his attorney recommended he take - was not that high.  He called us wanting to know what we thought was fair.

It's almost impossible to give a good valuation without seeing medical records, but that's not why I am writing this post.  During the conversation it was revealed that the reason the client was upset with the offer is because his attorney told him when he first signed up that he was shooting for a settlement of around $1.2 million!!!

Now if you aren't that familiar with Illinois workers' compensation laws, you might not know that in even the most serious, life altering situations, a case is not worth near that much money.  We obtained the highest settlement that we have ever seen at the Workers' Compensation Commission and that was for $800,000 for a young, permanently disabled client.   Most cases where the worker makes a good recovery go for somewhere in the five figures and some others where the injury is major or the recovery isn't good go in the low to mid six figures.

For a lawyer to tell his client to expect over $1 million on a case where the client is going to be returning to his normal job is just scummy and an example of why lawyers have a bad name.  If you went to me about handling your case and I estimated it was worth $50,000 and another lawyer estimated $1,000,000, you'd probably hire the other guy.  But if it seems too good to be true then it probably is.  Now this other lawyer is facing an ethical violations report and the client is pissed. 

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.

"What is my Illinois workers compensation case worth?"

That is the number one question that we get.  The short answer is that there is no way to tell you for sure without reviewing your medical records.  We can usually give a likely range by asking you a few questions, but if you are interested in knowing the maximum that could be expected, a records review is needed.

In the bigger picture, that question is often asked at the wrong time.  Specifically, right after you get injured you shouldn't be thinking about a settlement.   While you are under a doctor's care for the injury, you shouldn't be thinking about a settlement.  If you are in vocational rehabilitation because your employer has no job for you, you shouldn't be thinking about a settlement.

It's understandable that you would want to know what your case might be worth, but it's not realistic.  If you can't return to work at the same job, but can work a new job for similar pay, your case is worth less than if you can't work the same job and now have a big wage loss compared to your old job. 

If you are still getting medical treatment you may have future medical care as a goal and that could affect what the case is worth or whether or not you go to trial.

By settling when you are getting treatment you risk your health and there is of course nothing more important than that.

Finally, the insurance company does not have to make a settlement offer to you, but if you formally file a case with a lawyer and your case is legit, a settlement will happen.  And FYI, we have never seen a situation where someone ends up with less money through a good Illinois work comp attorney than they could have gotten on their own.

 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.