Illinois work comp - When is the insurance company going to pay me?

A reader asks:

 
About 4 months ago I got hurt at work I hurt my knee from kneeling a lot at work from working on equipment I have seen doctors and did 12 appointments of pt and have been released from doctor I lost about 35 hr of work for doctor appointments, haven't heard anything more from workmans comp .I have been done for three weeks now do you think they will pay me for lost time or a settlement?


If this reader is entitled to be paid for missing time from work, that should have been paid already.  Insurance companies often say, “We’ll pay that when it’s time to settle,” but the reality is, that’s not what the law is in Illinois.  TTD payments and medical payments are due ASAP, not when the insurance company feels like it.  Unfortunately, insurance companies are doing this more and more in an attempt to squeeze workers as much as possible.  The good news is that this is an easily problem to solve.
 
As for the settlement, insurance companies don’t just give money away and there is no law that punishes them for not offering a settlement, unlike when they don’t pay lost time or medical bills.  We can force a settlement by filing a trial motion or actually going to trial.  But with changes to the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act, you’ll find that if you don’t have an attorney that they won’t offer anything or if they do it won’t be very much because they can get away with that.  I don’t say this to scare anyone in to hiring a lawyer.  Like everything else that I write on this blog, it’s the truth.
 
Big picture is to not freak out, but instead make informed decisions.  Almost every problem that comes up in work comp is solvable.  You just need to know what the answers are.

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.

05/19/13

We Don't Handle Federal Worker Comp Cases, But . . .

Two to three times a week I get a call from someone looking for a Federal workers’ compensation attorney. We don’t handle those cases because Federal laws are completely different than Illinois laws. In fact I’ve never found an attorney in Illinois that handles those claims which are known as OWCP.

But we have been able to help some Federal workers. If you are injured while working due to the negligence of someone else, you may have a personal injury lawsuit. We don’t handle those cases, but we do know the best personal injury attorneys in Illinois and have helped many Federal workers bring lawsuits against those that harmed them. In fact, there must be something in the water as in the last four months we’ve had three postal workers get hit by cars and contact us looking for help with their Federal comp case. We couldn’t help with the comp part, but they all did get help with a personal injury claim.

So if you are a Federal worker and hurt yourself lifting a box, we unfortunately can’t help you. But if you are a Federal worker (or any worker for that matter) who is hurt while working due to the negligence of someone else, we would be happy to point you in the right direction. 

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.

3/27/12

Benefits overview

Every once in a while, we post a re-cap of the benefits you’re entitled to if you’re injured on the job in Illinois. The laws changed recently, so here is an updated overview:

Medical: Your medical bills should be covered 100% for an injury that arose out of and in the course of your employment. So anything that happens while working or doing something related to working should be covered. Illinois law changed recently and now allows employers to set up preferred provider networks (PPOs). This limits your choice of doctors more than before. Disputes often arise over medical care. It has to be relevant and necessary, and the insurance company might argue that you are asking for something (therapy, surgery) that is not necessary. If you can’t negotiate a solution, you can request a hearing.

Lost wages: If you are unable to work because of your injury, you are entitled to 2/3 of your average weekly wage; this is called TTD (temporary total disability). If you are able to do some work, but it pays less, you get 2/3 of the difference in wages; this is called wage differential. A worker can only receive wage differential benefits for five years or until they turn 67, whichever is later.

Permanent disability: If your injury is permanent, which you won’t know right away (or at least it won’t be agreed upon right away), you should get a settlement. Usually this is a lump sum paid to you by the insurance company. In exchange, they usually have you waive future medical benefits. This means that if your injury acts up years later, you can’t go back to them to pay for treatment. It’s all negotiable, and in some cases medical benefits are left open. There also are benefits available for scarring caused by an injury or illness.

There are other ancillary benefits, such as vocational rehabilitation, which helps you train and find another job if your injury prevents you from returning to your previous job or career. Note that in a work injury case, pain and suffering is not available, as it is in other types of injury cases. In cases where death results, benefits are available for the surviving spouse or minor children.

If someone from the insurance company tells you that you are not eligible for benefits or that your medical treatment is not necessary, don’t assume they are right. Their job is to save the insurance company money, not give it to you. In an ideal situation, your attorney should be the one talking with the insurance company. Insurance companies are known for taking advantage of unrepresented claimants

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.

2/2/12

The #1 question of Chicago work comp lawyers: What is my case worth?

We polled some Chicago workers' compensation lawyers and they all agreed that clients want to knonw what their case is worth more than anything else.  We use a formula based on when you were hurt, what your wage is and how serious your injury was to determine what the case is worth.   We do this by looking at your medical records and job status. Below is a copy of the chart we use:

MAXIMUM NUMBER OF WEEKS FOR COMPENSATION

INJURIES OCCURRING:
Body Part Before 7/20/2005                                11/16/2005 - 1/31/2006 7/20/2005 - 11/15/2005                        2/1/2006 or after
Man as whole 500 500
Disfigurement 150 162
Thumb  70 76
First (index) finger 40 43
Second (middle) finger 35 38
Third (ring) finger 25 27
Fourth (little) finger 20 22
Great toe 35 38
Each other toe 12 13
Hand 190 205
Arm 235 253
*Amp. Above elbow 250 270
*Amp At shoulder 300 323
Foot 155 167
Leg 200 215
 Amp Above knee 225 242
 Amp At hip joint 275 296
Eye 150 162
*Enucleation of eye 160 173
Hearing loss, one ear 50 54
Hearing loss, both ears 200 215
 

Man as a whole refers to injuries to your back, neck, chest and head.  So using the chart above, if your entire leg was cut off on January 2nd this year, you would receive 215 weeks of permanency benefits.  Of course that doesn't happen to most people.  If you had a knee surgery and we determined your leg was 20% disabled then you would receive 43 weeks of benefits (215 weeks x 20% = 43).

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

 

What's my case worth?

This is by far the number one question we get on any Illinois workers' compensation case from a prospective client.  We don't blame you, it would be in the back of our minds too.  The money you can get if you are seriously injured is significant and tax free which doesn't hurt either.

All that said, we are brutally honest with our clients.  There is no way to tell you what a case is worth without reviewing your medical records and your job situation.  We can make an educated guess, but certainly would never recommend that to anyone.  We strongly feel that it's important to do a work injury case right, not quickly.  This means looking at every relevant medical record and fully assessing the situation. 

Often it's not in a client's best interests to settle their case.  Sometimes they need more medical treatment.  Sometimes we need to make sure that they can work without problems.  Bottom line is that we will do whatever we can to maximize the recovery for you with your long term best interests in mind.

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 does the death of football player Korey Stringer tell you about what your case is worth?

Seven+ years ago football player Korey Stringer died from heat related problems while practicing with the Minnesota Vikings.  ESPN just reported that the case against the NFL was settled.

While his widow likely received a workers' compensation death benefit, like many of the cases that we deal with, there were also "third party" lawsuits that were filed.  That means that the widow sued alleging negligence against someone other than the employer for causing the death.  We do this all of the time, usually when a client of ours is hurt in a car accident or construction injury that was someone elses fault.  You can't sue your employer for negligence, but the rest of the world is fair game.

What is telling about the Stringer case is that when it was first filed her attorneys asked for $100 million.  Now no one is saying what the case settled for, but it's clear that it wasn't anywhere near that figure.  Mrs. Stringer herself even admitted in the article that the huge demand was to get the attention of the responsible parties and make changes into how they deal with practicing in the heat.

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.

 

The relevance of this for Illinois workers' compensation claims or personal injury lawsuits is that you shouldn't listen to the astronomical numbers that get floated about.  If a lawyer is telling you that your case is worth $100 million you should ask him/her how many cases settled in Illinois over the last five years for even more than $10 million.  The answer is not too many, probably less than 20 and in no case did an individual come even close to $100 million. 

For work injuries, we settled what we believe is the largest workers' compensation claim in Illinois ever and that was for $800,000.00.  That case was extremely unusual and involved a young man who made a lot of money and could no longer work.

So the lesson is to ignore the talk and have an honest conversation about realities.