A recent caller to my office was very blunt, which I love, because I am very blunt. Being straight forward is the best way to be as a lawyer.
He had torn his biceps and labrum on the job. He went to an IME who agreed with his treating doctor that he needed surgery. The caller works in southern Illinois so he wasn’t asking to hire me which makes sense because getting someone local would be better for him. What he bluntly asked me was, “Is it even worth it to get an attorney?”
It’s a common concern and the answer isn’t always yes. Everyone’s case is different and if you have a minor injury or a statutory one (amputation for example), there might not be much an Illinois work comp attorney can do for you unless your benefits get denied.
But for major injuries like this one, even when the case is accepted or the insurance company seems like they are being nice, it’s almost always worth it to get a lawyer. There are a lot of reasons why:
1. It doesn’t cost anything to hire and Illinois workers’ compensation attorney so you aren’t saving money by waiting until something goes wrong.
2. If something does go wrong (e.g. they won’t approve a medical procedure, your TTD checks are late, a bill isn’t paid, etc.) if a case has already been filed it will allow you to get in to court much faster to solve the problem.
3. Insurance companies often do the wrong thing when you aren’t represented just to see if they can get away with it.
4. Sometimes you don’t realize they are doing something against the law because they do it with a smile. For example, it’s common that the insurance company will assign a nurse to contact your doctor. Doing so for anything other than to ask for a copy of your records and bills is against the law, but it happens all the time. The number on violation they do is try to convince your doctor to change your restrictions. These illegal actions can seriously hurt your health.
5. Dealing with an insurance company can be stressful. You should focus on your health and recovery. Beyond that, you are going to likely be dealing with an adjuster who has years of experience. It’s not a fair fight if you go at alone.
6. Along the lines of having someone ready to go if something goes wrong, if you have a long term injury and don’t get an attorney for a year, when you do hire them they are not only playing catch up for what is currently going on, but they might be missing important details from the beginning of the case that you’ve forgotten. For example, if you slipped on a wet floor, we’d want to know what you slipped on, who saw it, who you reported it to at work, what you told them, what you told the adjuster, etc. It’s not that you can’t find this stuff out (although sometimes you can’t), it’s that having to work backwards puts you at a disadvantage because the insurance company has a file from day one of your accident.
7. At worst, having an attorney is a security blanket in case something does go wrong or you just want to have someone to bounce questions off of. You’ll never know what the insurance company didn’t do because you have a good lawyer that they would have otherwise done.
8. But the biggest for most people seems to be that having a lawyer, even after their 20% fee, almost always puts more money in your pocket in the end. Based on my 22+ years of experience, if an insurance company does agree to make a settlement offer to you, the first thing they do is cut it by 20% because you don’t have a lawyer. They make offers on the low end of what you’d get if you did have representation if they make an offer at all. I can’t recall one case where someone called me and was given more without an attorney than they would have gotten with one.
9. And when you do settle, it’s incredibly important to make sure you have a lawyer in your corner to deal with the settlement contract. Not doing this could cause you to have to pay some medical bills related to your case and/or miss out on some future medical treatment payments. The worst example I saw was when a contract was so badly written that it forced the injured worker to have to pay taxes on their settlement even though these settlements are typically tax free.
There are more reasons of course, but getting someone who cares about you and is experienced will almost always make the case go better for you. We cover all of Illinois through our state wide network. If you want a free consultation you can contact us at any time.