What Are My Chances Of Winning My Work Comp Case?

We offer to speak to anyone about their Illinois work comp case for free.  When we do that we want to be able to answer your questions and fortunately, more often than not we are able to do just that.  Sometimes though the honest answer is “depends” or “we don’t have enough information to answer.” That can be frustrating to hear, but we expect you to always be honest with us and we are always truthful with you.

This happens when people call and want to know their chances of winning their workers’ compensation case. The answer to that of course depends on the facts of your case.  If you are on a ladder for your job and fall 20 feet off of it because someone bumps in to the ladder, I think your chances of proving you were hurt at work are close to 100%.  But a case like that doesn’t go to trial because you fell off a ladder. It goes to trial because the insurance company is disputing at some point your need for medical care or says you can return to work or something else.

To tell you if you are going to win in that situation, it will come down to your credibility and that of your doctor and any doctor the insurance company has chosen for you. If you are treating with a chiropractor and he insurance company sent you to an orthopedic doctor for an exam, I’d not be confident in your chances of prevailing at trial. If you have a well regarded doctor in your corner and come off as honest when testifying, I’d think your chances are pretty good.

To make a real honest assessment of whether or not you are going to win your case, we often need to see your medical records.  That gives us more information than we can get from you over the phone.

If you’ve only been injured recently and want to know if your case would qualify for Illinois work comp benefits, we can usually give you an opinion based on your description of what happened.  Even then though, it may come down to hearing what your employer will say or getting a credible opinion from a doctor.  For example, if you slipped on the stairs at work and fractured your ankle, we need some indication as to what you slipped on. If your employer is going to say you were goofing off when it happened, it’s ultimately going to come down to witness testimony.  If you are alleging that your back is injured from lifting a lot at work, your chances of winning depend on your treating doctor supporting that opinion.

If you’ve worked a job for 25 years and have never claimed a work related injury, your chances might be better than someone who has filed ten times in four years.

I could go through 100 different scenarios, but the bottom line is that your chances of winning are unique to you and what your situation is.  The good news is that if you want to get our opinion, for free, we’ll talk to you whenever you want.  Call us, fill out our contact form or start a live chat. We cover all of Illinois and usually you’ll speak with a lawyer right away.

Illinois Staffing Agency Injuries

If you are employed by a staffing agency in Illinois and want to learn about work comp law or just want to find the best attorney for your case, call us at (312) 346-5578 for a free consultation with a lawyer.

One common call we get, especially since Covid has hit, is from employees injured while working at staffing agencies in Illinois.  I have found that these employees get lied to more than just about any other worker because they really are seen as disposable. Probably the biggest lie they are told is that they aren’t eligible for work comp benefits.  That is, of course, not true. The second you start working in Illinois, you are considered an employee under the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act.

Another disturbing trend we’ve seen this year is these employers trying to make all of their hires independent contractors.  They think that by doing so they will magically not have to cover any work related injuries. The truth is that you can’t just call an employee a contractor if you maintain control over them. One company we came across went as far to take money out of the paychecks of their former hourly workers as a work comp fee every shift they worked. That is all illegal and since they were truly employees under the law, these staffers are eligible for work comp benefits.

A lot of staffing agency workers tend to get injured for a variety of reasons.  The most common is because they are placed in dangerous jobs without proper training.  Employers don’t want to spend the time to train someone who might not be there for long.  As a result they tend to get injured more easily.  Probably the most common injury is hurting your back from lifting when you either aren’t conditioned for it or don’t have proper lifting technique.

We also see temp workers getting hurt because some companies feel it’s alright to place them in unsafe working conditions doing grunt work that nobody else has to do.  Imagine being asked to carry vats of hot grease when you’ve barely been given a safety briefing and don’t have anyone with experience helping you out.  That happens far too often.  Sadly, there are many employers who just don’t value workers that come and go.

A final reason for staffing agency injuries is just the fact that they are often temporary assignments.  If you are called in to a project that is on a deadline or only going to last a few weeks, it can get rushed.  When workers rush, accidents tend to follow.  Again, to me it comes down to employers who don’t look at the workers as human.

It would be bad enough if this happened to only a few workers, but the reality is that there are tens of thousands of temporary workers in Illinois.  They are entitled to the same work comp benefits as any full time employee and they can not be forced to waive their rights or made to sit through an eligibility period. That is not legal.

If you are one of these workers, we’d be happy to talk to you for free any time about a work injury. Fill out our contact form or give us a call. We cover all of Illinois.

 

Physical Therapy Is Making My Injury Worse, Do I Have To Go?

We are Illinois workers’ compensation attorneys who will talk to you for free about your case. Fill out our contact form or call us at 312-346-5578 to speak with an experienced lawyer in confidence.  We cover all of Illinois.

When you get hurt on the job, you should go to the doctor. I don’t think many people would argue with that statement. You do it to find out what’s wrong with you and to get better.

A common thing for a doctor to recommend in Illinois work comp cases is physical therapy. It’s not expensive, it usually works and it’s not a surgery which is invasive.  In fact, if your doctor recommends physical therapy and you don’t go, the insurance company can terminate your benefits. Under Illinois work comp law you have to follow doctor recommendations that aren’t invasive. They can’t make you have surgery, but can require therapy.

But what happens if you are going to physical therapy and it’s making your condition worse? Can you just stop going?

While you should of course avoid activities that injure you, I wouldn’t recommend that you just stop going.  Here’s what you should do instead:

  1. Talk to the therapist and let them know which activities are hurting you and ask if there are alternative ones they could do.  You don’t want to ever appear uncooperative with your health care if you can avoid.  Most physical therapists are reasonable.  It’s also good to have your concerns documented.
  2. Talk to your orthopedic doctor and let them know the concerns. They might stop the therapy for you or suggest something else like an epidural shot or a surgery. While physical therapy usually helps, it doesn’t always work. If it fails then the doctor knows a new plan of attack must happen.

The important thing to remember is that you are not a doctor and can’t make medical decisions on your own if you want to keep getting work comp benefits.  So show up and be an advocate for yourself.

This issue also shows why it’s important to not let the insurance company or employer choose your treating doctor or therapist.  You want someone independent to handle your case as they are more likely to listen to you and act based on your best interests, not that of the insurance company.

Above all, don’t panic.  Use your voice, ask questions and make an educated decision from there.  And of course if you want to talk to a lawyer about this you can contact us any time.

A Jewish Workers’ Compensation Lawyer In Chicago

I am a workers’ compensation attorney for the state of Illinois. I’m also Jewish.

For some, this will be a weird post, but there are others that need some education.

I get calls all the time from people who are looking for my recommendation of a good attorney.  That’s why I created a state wide network, so you can get the best work comp attorney for your case.

But some of these people will tell me they want a Jewish attorney or ask if the person I’m recommending is Jewish.  I try not to jump to conclusions so I’ll ask the caller why they want that.  I usually here something along the lines of “Jewish attorneys are really aggressive” or “Jewish attorneys like to get the most money.”

Most of this comes from ignorance or inexperience in dealing with people from other religions. If all you know is the antisemitism you were taught or from what you read on the internet, you might not know any better.  But usually it’s bigotry and I find it shocking how many people feel this way.

I grew up in the Chicago area, but went to college in a small town in Ohio.  I still remember my freshman orientation meeting someone who told me that they “never met a real live Jew before.” That guy turned out to be a super nice person, but was a victim of his upbringing.

My response when I get these questions is to let the caller know that what they are saying is offensive and to explain why.  It’s no different than making a racist statement based on stereotypes about Asians, African Americans, Christians, Muslims or any other group.

I can tell you from 23 years of experience that there are great and terrible lawyers of every religion, race, gender, etc.  Some embody the best stereotypes, some the worst.  This is not like saying you want a female attorney or Spanish speaker because you would be more comfortable with them or it would be easier to communicate.  The request for a Jewish attorney is usually offensive whether well intentioned or not.

That’s my rant for the day.  One thing I’ve learned as a person in 2020 is that it’s not enough to not just be against racism and bigotry, but you must also be anti-racist and anti-bigotry. I’ll be back to talking about every day work comp issues in my next post.  As always, feel free to contact us with any questions.

Why Is My Lawyer Taking So Long To Settle My Case?

We are Illinois work comp attorneys who will answer whatever questions you have or if needed, discuss representing you on your case.  We are straight forward, blunt and care about our clients.

One thing I find helpful to blog about is good questions that I get from readers.  One recently called and wanted to know why it was taking so long for their lawyer to settle their case?  Now every case is different so there isn’t a one size fits all answer.  But these are the most common reasons an attorney takes forever to settle a case. In no particular order …

  1. They suck at their job.  Some lawyers are just lazy.  It’s fortunately a minority, but I’ve seen a couple lawyers who will wait years after the case could be settled to try and do anything. It makes no sense as they aren’t getting paid more by waiting. Others are just disorganized or not aggressive enough.  One work comp firm in Chicago seems to take the approach that if they write a letter asking for a settlement and don’t get a response, there is nothing they can do.  It’s nonsense as you can pick up the phone, motion the case for trial, track down the opposing attorney, etc.
  2. They are waiting for medical records.  If you don’t have all of your client’s relevant medical records, you can’t make the right settlement demand.
  3. You are still going through vocational rehabilitation.  You never want to settle too early.  If you aren’t able to return to work due to permanent restrictions, but haven’t been looking for a new job for very long, it’s not time to settle yet.
  4. You need more medical care.  Once you settle, you are responsible for your medical bills.  If you still need more treatment, especially if it’s a surgery, it would likely be a bad idea for your lawyer to try and resolve the case now.
  5. They are trying and you don’t realize it.  Step one is usually to talk to you about making a settlement demand.  Step two is to put that settlement demand in writing.  Step three is to pick up the phone if you don’t get a response.  Step four is to file a motion for trial or get the case ready for trial by taking doctor depositions.  The first two steps wouldn’t likely happen without you knowing about it.  The second two steps shouldn’t happen without your knowledge.  That said, some work comp attorneys in Illinois are just really bad at communicating.  Instead of shooting you a quick email to let you know what they are doing, they say nothing.  That makes you think they aren’t fighting for you when they really are.

These are the five most common reasons I see, although there are others. If you are at this point in your case and not happy with your lawyer, if you want to switch firms, you likely need to do that before an offer is made.  Once your attorney gets any money on the table it can be hard to get new representation.  So if they suck at their job, get rid of them before it’s too late. If it’s one of the other issues, stick with them and let the process play out.

And as always, if you have questions, you can contact us for free at any time.

Cancer From Exposure To Chemicals On The Job

No matter what your work related injury in Illinois is, there is one thing you must do to win your claim for benefits.  You have to show that your job duties at least contributed to you getting your injury.

This is easy to do if you slip on a wet floor and tear your ACL.  It’s harder but still common to do if you are alleging that a repetitive activity like typing all day caused your problem.  Where it can be very difficult is when you know in your heart you likely got a disease from working.  This is very true when it comes to proving that your job contributed to you being diagnosed with cancer.

The standard for winning your case is having a doctor credibly testify that your employment contributed to your cancer.  There is no hard and fast rule to how much exposure you need, but in general it helps if you’ve been working the same job for a long time and can offer proof of what chemicals you were exposed to.  One way to do that is through a report from OSHA, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. They will examine job sites and make rulings as to what dangerous exposure workers are facing.

Another way to do it in some cases is your own testimony.  You can talk about the materials you’ve worked with over the years, how often you worked with them, the protective equipment you did and didn’t wear, etc.  Taking that information to a reputable oncologist for their opinion is the first step in winning a case.

This is exactly what happened in a recent case of a Springfield firefighter who brought a case for renal cancer.  Aside from establishing that he was fit, didn’t smoke and had no history of hypertension, this first responder gave a great description of his job duties which added credibility to his treating doctor stating that more likely than not the job contributed to the development of cancer.

Be warned, there aren’t a lot of cancer work comp cases.  So it’s important to know two things:  1. There are few attorneys with a track record of winning those cases. It’s almost guaranteed that a cancer case is going to trial.  You don’t want their first time doing a work comp trial on a cancer case to be with you. 2. There are some cancer doctors who don’t know the standard for offering an opinion in a medical report when it comes to work comp because it’s never come up for them.  It’s important to make sure that not only are you giving your doctor accurate job details, but also asking them about work comp in the right way.  We can of course help with that.

We are lawyers who will talk to you for free about any Illinois work comp case. If you want our help call us any time at 312-346-5578 to speak with a lawyer. 

Liens And Illinois Workers’ Compensation Law

A lien is fancy legal talk for the right to take some of your property until you pay off a debt you are owed. It’s typically associated with a lien on a house by a builder.  Basically it prevents you from selling the property until the debt is paid.  With personal injury cases, health care providers will put a lien on your settlement. If their medical bill is $10,000.00, the lien requires you to pay them off or at least negotiate with them before you can accept a settlement.

With Illinois work comp cases, there are no liens allowed against your case.  That means a doctor can’t hold up your settlement because your bill isn’t paid.  That doesn’t mean you should blow off any medical bills.  You shouldn’t.  You should make your lawyer aware of all medical bills and get them to get the insurance company to pay them.   If you don’t, you might get sued when the case is over.

Liens do play a big role in one aspect of Illinois workers’ compensation law. When you are injured due to the negligence of a third party, meaning not your company or someone from the company, you might have a lawsuit on top of the work comp case.  Under Illinois law, the insurance company is allowed to recover up to 75% of what they paid in the work comp case from that third party case.

For example, if your lost time, medical bills and settlement total $100,000.00, if your injuries are from being rear ended while driving for work, the work comp insurance company could take up to $75,000.00 from any lawsuit you might have.

This lien becomes important when you have a major injury and a lawsuit against the third party that could be big.  If you don’t pursue the lawsuit against them, the insurance company actually has the right to do so on your behalf so they can get their money. I almost never recommend you let them do that.

The reason I say that is that even though they can recover up to 75% of what they spend, that amount is negotiable.  In addition, if we are handling both cases, we don’t double dip on the attorney fees.  So we can put more money in your pocket in the end which is what your biggest concern should be other than getting healthy.

Some lawyers tell their clients to drop their work comp case in exchange for the insurance company waiving their lien.  This is a terrible idea that you should not do unless both cases are so far along that you know what the ultimate outcome will be.  There have been cases where injured workers dropped their work comp case and then got nothing from their personal injury case.  You might not think that will happen, but bankruptcies and legal defenses can blow up any case.

Bottom line is that most injured Illinois workers don’t have to worry about liens, but if your injury is from a third party you should definitely talk to a lawyer to protect yourself and make sure you come out with the most money possible in the end.

Opioid Addiction and Illinois Work Comp Law

Illinois workers’ compensation cases are often a reflection of many things going on in society in general.  One of those sadly is when it comes to opioids and their abuse.  This has been a growing problem in the US and one we are seeing more and more when it comes to Illinois work comp cases.

Most workers who struggle with addiction to pills didn’t ever take them before they got hurt on the job. Then they get seriously hurt and have a surgery, causing their doctor to prescribe high level narcotics for the pain.  Some of these doctors unfortunately do not monitor their patients well enough and continue to prescribe these very strong meds beyond a reasonable time period or when their patients are exhibiting warning signs of problems.

One thing about Illinois work comp law is that any injury that results from the initial injury is covered by the case. So if you break your leg and then get an elbow injury from using crutches, it’s all tied in to one case.  The same is true if you have a back fusion surgery and then get addicted to pain killers.

If you have an addiction problem, you aren’t left out to dry.  We can make the insurance company pay for addiction treatment and/or a detoxification program to help wean you off the drugs.

The reality is that if you abuse opioids for too long you are at the risk of death, especially as dosages and usage goes up.  While it would be nice if we lived in a country where everyone with a drug abuse problem could get help, that’s not the reality. It is the reality for injured Illinois workers.

In one case, we were actually surprised to see an insurance company actually went to court to try and get the worker off pills and in to a treatment program.  Usually we have to fight to make this happen as these are very expensive treatment plans.

Like anything else related to Illinois work comp law, we want you to focus on your health.  This includes substance abuse.  If you broke your leg at work, you’d get treatment and the insurance company would pay for it.  If you develop a drug abuse problem from a work injury, you should similarly get treatment.  And the insurance company should pay for it.

These are sensitive issues that we treat with respect and confidentiality. If you’d like to discuss a case, please call us any time at 312-346-5578 to speak with a lawyer for free.  We help everywhere in Illinois.

Amazon, Covid and Illinois Workers’ Compensation Law

This has been one of the craziest news weeks ever.  Lost in the shuffle was a report that about 20,000 Amazon workers have been diagnosed with Covid.  That is of course a very large number and includes workers at Whole Foods as well as warehouses.

It’s certainly possible that many of them got Coronavirus from risks in their personal life. That said, if you are an Illinois Amazon worker and got Covid, under Illinois law, it’s assumed that you were exposed at the job.

I say this because a law signed in June ruled that essential workers, which includes grocery store workers and essential business employees, who get Covid are entitled to workers’ compensation benefits unless the employer can show that they did not get Covid at work.

Simpler translation, these workers are doing important jobs and constantly exposed to Covid.  Therefore, it’s assumed that if they got it, it’s from work.

This is a huge benefit for these workers as under Illinois work comp law, 100% of their medical care will be paid by their employer.  We’ve seen stories of people sick with Covid who have out of pocket bills from $30,000-$100,000 or more depending on the severity of the illness.  That should not be a concern if you work for Amazon in Illinois.

In addition, these workers won’t have to feel a financial pressure to rush back to work because they should get TTD benefits which will compensate them for their time off of work.  That is in the best interests of everyone as you won’t have sick people exposing other sick people.  They can quarantine and not worry about going bankrupt.

Finally of course, when they are all better they will be eligible for a settlement.  This is huge as Covid can have life long complications.

It’s important to get this knowledge out their for Amazon employees given the large number that work in Illinois. We have already helped about ten people who work for Amazon and have Covid and have helped many other front line workers with the same issue.

If you would like to talk to an attorney for free to see if you have a case, please call us at 312-346-5578 any time. All calls are free and confidential and we help with cases everywhere in Illinois through our state wide network of like minded attorneys.

Don’t Give A Recorded Statement

We recently talked to a nice worker who fell at work, broke a bone and is going to have surgery.  He fell so quickly that the first thing he told me was that he didn’t know why he fell.  Unfortunately he told the insurance adjuster the same thing and did so in a recorded statement.

Under Illinois work comp law, you do not have to give a recorded statement and you should not give one. Even if you have nothing to hide, they aren’t looking for the truth, but instead are looking for ways to decline your case.  That’s what happened here.  If your fall is unexplained, you lose.

Insurance adjusters don’t look further once they have a defense.  If they did then this worker would have explained that it felt like his shoe got caught on the floor. He also would have revealed that three co-workers told him that they too had fell because their shoes got caught.  They fortunately did not get hurt, but they did create a reasonable explanation as to why this guy did. There is a defect in the floor and as a result he should win his case.

This is no slam dunk win because some Arbitrators will feel like he changed his story when he gives his explanation at trial.  Others will understand that he wasn’t asked the right questions and wasn’t given a chance to tell the whole story when he gave a recorded statement.  Either way, it’s a problem that could have been solved if he politely declined which was his right.

I don’t blame him for not knowing his rights.  Insurance companies don’t tell you that you don’t have to let them record a statement.   They make you feel like you don’t have a choice if you want benefits.  It’s just not true.

On another note, this is probably a case where if we got more than 50% settlement value as an offer before trial, we’d recommend to the client that they take that offer.  There is certainly a chance that they could get nothing at arbitration due to the recorded statement.  Getting anything would be the result of a lot of hard work including lining up all of those witnesses and potentially trying to get the recorded statement thrown out since the worker was heavily medicated.  This is why I hate lawyers who talk about win/loss records.  Getting above half of full value in a case like this is probably more of a win that getting a nice result in a case where nothing is disputed.

As always, if you have questions about any of your rights you are welcome to call us for free at 312-346-5578.  We cover all of Illinois.

LexBlog