Updated Illinois PPD and TTD Rates

Twice a year the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission updates the Permanent Partial Disability (PPD) and Temporary Total Disability (TTD) rates for the State of Illinois.  These are maximum payments based on your injury date. So if you’ve been injured on the job since July 15, 2018 this post is for you. If your accident was before then, nothing has changed.  These new rates will be in effect for all injuries through January 14, 2019 at which time new rates will be announced.

Here is a list of the updated rates as of July 14, 2018:
Temporary Total Disability (TTD)
Maximum = $1,480.12
Minimum = $220.00 (up to $330 if spouse and children)

Permanent Partial Disability maximum rates are still not posted.  The old maximum was $790.64 for injuries through June 30, 2019.  So if you were hurt July 1 or later and think your case is ready to settle, you need to wait until the new max PPD rates are announced if you were earning more than $68,522.13 which was the wage high for the old PPD rate.  So holding off a few weeks before you settle if your case is ready to be resolved would be a good idea.

These increases are based off the State average weekly wage which is now $1,110.09.  The maximum rates for permanent disability or death on the job are 133% of this rate so if your family member died while working.  This rate is the same as the TTD rate or $1,480.12.

We constantly update the new rates or you can check out the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission website.  We are happy to talk to you at any time if you have concerns about how much you should be paid or anything else related to your case.

Illinois Work Comp And The FCE

If you have a suffered a work injury in Illinois, the best-case scenario is to receive excellent medical care and recover well enough to return to work without restrictions. Unfortunately not every case works that way.  Sometimes you get “better” but aren’t nearly as healthy as you used to be and can’t do your old job. When that happens, your doctor will often recommend a Functional Capacity Evaluation (FCE).

So what is a Functional Capacity Evaluation? The FCE is a series of tests used to evaluate your work-related physical abilities. If one has been ordered for you, it usually means that you are coming to an end of your treatment and the doctor is ready to send you back to work depending on the FCE report which will make clear what restrictions you need.

An FCE is an objective test that can take up to eight hours.  It simulates many of the job tasks you have to do.  In other words, this is a test you will have to go through it you are a laborer with a serious injury, but are less likely to take if you are in a desk job. The evaluator will test a variety of physical performances critical to an employee’s job including:

• Push and pull strength
• Overall strength
• Lifting ability
• Flexibility
• Stamina
• Range of motion
• Ability to carry objects
• Any abilities related to the employees job

It is very important for the employee undergoing the FCE to be very honest, consistent and specific about what he/she is able to do and what hurts and use their best effort. The FCE’s are only as good as the data that received. In addition, the FCE could hurt an employee’s case if they try to exaggerate their symptoms. This could be a costly mistake as the FCE has been designed to avoid any fraud.  There are actually parts of the test where you will lift identical weights that look like they’d be much different.  If you are able to do the one that looks light without problem, but struggle with the one that looks heavy it will look like you are faking your symptoms.

Following the FCE, a report will be generated. A successful FCE test report will address an employees’ functional limitations, any additional rehabilitation needed, the employee’s ability to return to work and if so what tasks they will be able/unable to perform. This report provided by your doctor will ultimately determine the next course of action.

If your injury is serious enough to require a FCE, you need an attorney.  Whether it’s our firm or someone else, a good attorney in a case like this could be the difference of tens of thousands of dollars when it comes to the ultimate settlement.  If you’d like to ask questions about a FCE or discuss getting help with a case anywhere in Illinois, please do not hesitate to contact us.

When You Are Waiting For A Settlement Offer And Nothing Happens

A caller to my office wanted to know if his situation was normal for an Illinois workers’ compensation case.

Long story short is that all of his bills have been paid as has all of his time off.  His attorney called him in January and said to expect a settlement offer any day.  Well here it is more than ten months later and any day hasn’t happened yet.  So he wanted to know what to do if you are waiting for a settlement offer and nothing ever happens?

The answer really depends.  If you don’t have a lawyer and haven’t formally filed a case with the State via an Application For Adjustment Of Claim, it could be that the insurance company is trying to make you wait too long to file.  Essentially by delaying you they hope to bar you from ever getting a settlement.

If you do have an attorney it usually comes down to one of the following:

1. Your lawyer is lazy.

2. Your lawyer isn’t sharing all the information with you.

3. Your case has slipped through the cracks.

Whatever the reason, there’s only one thing your attorney can do if they can’t get a settlement offer for you or don’t like the one that they’ve been given.  They simply have to get the case ready for trial.

That doesn’t mean the case is going to trial, it means that you are creating a deadline for the insurance company. If they want to settle then let’s talk, if not then let’s have an Arbitrator decide what the case is worth.

Sure there are some cases that are better off never going to trial, but if you won’t act like you will go to trial, they will never take you seriously.  And if your lawyer has a reputation of not going to trial, you’ll either get a low ball offer or no offer.

Like most Illinois work comp situations, this isn’t rocket science.  90% of success in Illinois work comp claims is showing up and doing the work that needs to be done.  Of course the facts are the most important thing, but good facts without effort results in nothing.

As always, if you have any questions about your Illinois work injury claim, call or email us for a free consultation.

Injuries To Electricians On The Job In Illinois

We are Chicago based workers compensation lawyers who help with claims anywhere in Illinois through our state wide network.  If you just have questions or want help with a case, call us for FREE any time at 312-346-5578 or fill out our contact form and we will call you…..

For Electricians, knowledge means safety so must have special training and skills to do their work safely. Still, even the best-trained electricians are exposed to many on-the-job hazards that could result in injury or death.

Odds are any electrician who regularly works with electricity has been shocked a time or two in their life. All electricians, no matter what industry they work in, are exposed constantly to the danger of electricity. Interestingly enough however, electricity is not the most common cause of injuries for electricians.

Here are some of the most common injuries that leave electricians looking for injury compensation.

• Falls – Falls are actually the most common source of injury among those in the electrical trade. If you think about it, it does make sense. Electricians can spend a good amount of their work time in the air: they could be perched on ladders, adjusting overhead lines, scrambling over roofs and crammed into ceiling crawlspaces.
• Electrical Shock Injuries – Electrical injuries are the most obvious source of dancer, therefore it is always the most accounted for. Electrocution is actually pretty far down on the list of the most common injuries, but it still a risk. Electricians are at the risk for other electrical injuries such as burns, paralysis of a limb or even death.
• Flash Burns – Flash burns from electrical explosions are another cause of injury. Explosions can occur when an improper connection is made. From the explosions small pieces of metal or copper shrapnel are shot off in all directions and can become embedded into the skin or even cause serious eye damage.
• Repetitive Stress Injuries – Aside from the more obvious hazards electricians face, the trade can take a toll on the body in other ways. An electrician’s work is hard labor and they are exposed to a number of repetitive stress injuries. Repetitive stress injuries are caused over time by a continual action or by a sustained and awkward position. Many electricians suffer from chronic ailments, including injuries to their hands, wrists, fingers and knees, back strains, hand abrasions and even carpal tunnel syndrome. Repetitive stress injuries may not be immediately life threatening, but they can be as painful and debilitating as other injuries.
• Asbestos – Asbestos actually use to be the number one health and injury concern for electricians, but because we’ve become more aware of the condition, we’ve been better at mitigating the risks. Still, electricians can be subjected to working in conditions where they might be exposed to asbestos.

Bottom line is that electricians experience a wide variety of work related injuries and due to the nature of the work it happens often. It’s important to get medical treatment right away and if it’s something serious to have an attorney who not only knows about Illinois work comp laws, but also knows about the profession and unique risks you have not only working, but also after returning to work following an accident.

Illinois Work Comp At A Municipality

A caller to my office had a unique case.  She had hurt her shoulder a while ago while working for a municipality in Illinois.  The medical bills have been accepted and paid.  Compensation was provided for all the time off work. The case has been ready to settle for almost a year and her lawyer can’t get a settlement offer.

She’s rightfully pissed off that this has taken so long as she wants to move on with her life and knows that she had a big injury that’s worth a lot of money and it’s money she can use.

Her lawyer hasn’t done anything other than write a couple of letters and maybe make a phone call.  She wanted to know if this was normal.

The answer is the lazy lawyer isn’t normal, but the lack of responsiveness from the municipality is.

Local Governments don’t work like businesses with insurance companies that pay their bills.  Most of them pay their own cases so they don’t like to give settlements.  If you want a settlement against a municipality, you often have to get the case ready for trial.

That doesn’t mean that you are going to trial, it means you have to get ready for trial and be willing to do so.  Only then will you force their hand and get them to make a settlement offer.  If they don’t then you go to trial, win the case and get awarded money by the Arbitrator.

But whatever you do, you can’t just wait and hope they will make an offer.  Way more often than not it just doesn’t happen.

This all comes down to how experienced your lawyer is. They can handle work comp cases, but if they don’t have a track record against municipalities you may end waiting to long to get the settlement you deserve.

When you work for a local Government, you have to be aggressive if you are hurt at work because otherwise it’s just a waiting game.  Contact us if you’d like a free consultation on how to get the best result in your case.

 

Wrongful Death On The Job In Illinois

One of the basic principles of Illinois workers’ compensation law is that you can’t sue your employer for negligence.  Work comp isn’t a lawsuit so while you get those benefits, if your employer was careless and left a wet floor that you slipped on, you don’t have an additional lawsuit.

This rule also applies if you are killed on the job.  Let’s say you drive a truck in a tandem with another driver.  While you are on your rest part of the shift, the other driver falls asleep and crashes the vehicle, killing you instantly.  Your family can make a workers compensation claim but can’t sue the company.

All this said, whenever we represent someone on an Illinois work injury claim, we leave no stone un-turned.  That is a part of being aggressive and a true advocate for a client. So while you can’t sue an employer for negligence when someone dies on the job, often there is a third party that is not a part of the company that you can sue.

In other words, you can get the work comp death benefit which is a burial expense, payment of all medical bills and a death benefit that is payable over 25 years with the minimum payment being $500,000.00.  But there could also be more.

We see this often with deaths on construction sites.  There are so many contractors on these jobs that often a scaffold breaks or a floor collapses because someone didn’t do their job right.  Fair or not if it’s your employer you can’t sue, but if it’s a different company you can.  Who is at fault could ultimately be the difference in millions of dollars.  It’s not usually obvious and having a good attorney who cares enough to do a proper investigation makes all the difference in the world.

Of course the most common ones are obvious.  If you are driving for work and another car plows in to you causing your death, your estate has the work comp claim and the case against the other party.  But even then it’s important to have a full investigation.  Commonly people are killed while working by truck drivers.  Many companies that operate trucks go to great lengths to hide who the true owner is.  There are multiple shell companies created so it may appear that the person responsible is part of a one truck team when in reality it’s owned by a publicly traded company.  Again, having the right lawyer could be a difference of millions.

We hope you don’t have a loved one with a wrongful death on the job, but if you do and want help, we are happy to provide a free consultation.  Call us at 312-346-5578 or fill out our contact form and we will call you.

NFL Players Should File For Workers Compensation

I firmly believe that EVERY Illinois employee should exercise their right to claim workers’ compensation benefits if they are hurt on the job.  This includes people who make a ton of money because often when you are injured and don’t have any income, the next thing that happens is you are broke.

This point was made in an article I just read by former NFL player Nate Jackson. He discusses how many former players go broke because of their injuries and how even simple acts like putting on his socks are hard.  He goes on to argue (justifiably so) that the NFL should provide free health care for life for their former players.

What the article misses is that if you play for the Chicago Bears, are injured playing football in Illinois or are in another State where workers are protected, you can get free health care for life if you are a NFL player or “regular” worker who is seriously injured on the job.

When every player retires they should file for work comp.  Under Illinois law, all related medical care would be paid for life as long as it’s reasonable, necessary and related to the job.  So Jackson who has severe ankle and hip problems among other things from his playing days could go to a doctor of his choosing and 100% of the care would be paid for. No out of pocket expenses and no co-pays.

If you are a heavy duty construction worker, you should do the same thing.  How many older men and women do you know who worked hard jobs for 30 years and now have stiff backs, need a knee or hip replacement, are dealing with severe arthritis, etc. If there job was a contributing factor then the medical bills should be paid.

Jackson also talks about financial difficulties. However, if he can prove (which he surely can) that his injuries forced him to retire then he should get a tax free wage differential for the rest of his life.  It’s not the millions he’d been used to, but it would be more than enough to live off of.

The bottom line is that no matter who you are, workers’ compensation laws protect you when you have an injury.  It’s up to you to solve your problem and every injured Chicago Bears player has a pathway to make that happen.

We are experienced Chicago workers’ compensation attorneys. If you would like our help please call us at 312-346-5578 or fill out our contact form and we’ll call you.

Injured At Work And Then Your Company Closes

Recently Takeda Pharmaceuticals in Deerfield announced that they would be closing, costing 1,000 workers their jobs.  These types of closings happen all of the time of course.  The question is, if you have a work related injury in Illinois and your company shuts down, how does that affect your case?

Under Illinois work comp law you get three types of benefits, medical, TTD (lost time payments) and PPD which is a settlement at the end.  Let’s look at each benefit individually.

Medical: If your company closes it should not impact your rights to medical care unless the company was self insured and is going bankrupt.  So while Takeda is closing in Deerfield, the company still exists.  If you are one of their workers and were injured before they shut down here, you still get 100% of your medical care paid for.  Nothing changes.  If the company isn’t self insured, which is most companies, still nothing changes as it’s their insurance company that is paying you benefits.

TTD: When you are hurt at work and can’t do your job, you get temporary total disability benefits or TTD which is 2/3 of your average weekly wage.  When a company shuts down, if you have been working on restrictions from a work injury, you would suddenly go from not getting TTD to being entitled to TTD until you have a full duty work release or your restrictions become permanent.  If you were on TTD before the shut down, you still are entitled to TTD.  So for most workers either nothing changes or you get benefits because you have restrictions. Once the restrictions are permanent you have to start looking for other work and should get paid until you can find something.

PPD: Whether the company is open or not doesn’t change the fact that you are entitled to a settlement of some sort.  The value of that might increase if you have no job to go back to and it really just depends on your injury and how severe it is.  In some cases you may have been able to work with restrictions at the old job, but can’t do that in any other job. So the value of your case could go from the mid five figures to the mid six figures.  It really is case dependent.

Bonus tip.  You might get offered a job in another state with the company. If you turn it down it should not impact your job in any way.  Basically you can’t be made to move across country and if you choose not to it shouldn’t hurt your work comp case.

Bottom line is that companies do close and with respect to workers’ compensation claims it should not hurt you.  If you have any questions about any of this please call us for a free consultation any time.

Why Would A Union Tell A Worker They Have To Hire A Specific Law Firm?

I recently got a call from a woman with a bad shoulder injury.  It turned out not to be an Illinois case, she just stumbled upon my blog while researching her issues.  She actually needed a Pennsylvania workers’ compensation attorney and since I know a great firm there I recommended she call them.

They hit it off and were scheduled to meet.  A day before the meeting was supposed to take place she called them and said her union told her that since she was hurt at work she had to use the law firm that the union wanted her to work with.  So she cancelled the meeting saying that she didn’t feel like she had a choice.

There of course is no law that requires you to work with any specific law firm.  Many unions are great and will give their members a list of attorneys that they’ve seen do a good job.  Others in Illinois can be like this one where they try to strong arm and pressure their members.  Why would they do that?

Sad but true, many law firms pay big bucks to union heads to curry favor with them. I’ve never done it, but have certainly heard stories of law firm parties for union leaders where they give away big screen TV’s, cash prizes, vacations, etc and have strippers on hand that pay attention to them.  It’s essentially bribery and in exchange for a raffle where everyone wins something big these “leaders” try to keep the golden goose going by getting business for these attorneys.

It’s not that all of these firms are bad.  Some have good lawyers, some don’t. It’s that when you get a recommendation it should be based on merit, not based on the fact that you are gaining something from it.

What’s worse is that we hear stories of similar things happening with doctors.  Can you imagine being told a specific surgeon is the one to use, but then discover it’s because he built a pool for your union steward?

Bottom line is that the best lawyer for your case depends on the case facts and your specific needs.  If your union insists that you work with a certain firm, even if it’s mine, it should cause you to raise an eyebrow and question why they are so insistent.  If they stand to benefit from the fact that you were hurt it’s a really bad sign for you.  You can bet that in the end the attorney will be more loyal to them than they are to your case and needs.  In fact we’ve heard of attorneys telling injured workers that the union doesn’t want them to settle a case.  That is professional malpractice and just another reason to make sure whoever is representing you is only looking out for you.

“Do I Still Have An Illinois Workers’ Compensation Case”

I saw this posted on a legal Q&A forum and I thought it was worth discussing here.  An injured Illinois worker asked the following:

I work in a hospital and I hurt my back crawling on a cement floor putting cell slides away on August 23rd the same day I told my Supervisor. My Supervisor told me to tell my other Supervisor and he was no where to be found. I went to the prompt care that night due not being able to walk or straighten my back and excessive pain. I was told on 9/7/2018 that I didn’t follow the proper follow through. Monday I called into work due to not being able to work and then went Human Resources and filled out a Application for the incident report and then went to Health Occupation. This what Human Resources told me to do. My question is this, how do I find out if I still have an Illinois Workman Compensation Case. My Case Worker told me to continue with Health Occ and Physical Therapy. Well I don’t want to be stuck with $1000s of dollars due a MRI and Physical Therapy. Both my Supervisor’s have been harassing me as well. Need your opinion and advice. Thank you in advance.

There is no such thing as proper follow through, at least not as they are describing it.  She reported her injury the day she got hurt.  That was the proper follow through.  Getting prompt medical treatment was proper follow through too.

She definitely still has a case and all she needs to do to protect herself is file an Application for Adjustment of Claim with the State of Illinois  That will force them to respond to the medical bills.

The reality is that she has done everything right and is just being pressured for no good reason to act like her bills aren’t work related.  Of course there is no reason she should pay anything out of pocket or be stuck with any medical bills at all.

Essentially the company is making up some reporting steps that don’t exist. When you are hurt on the job in Illinois, you have to report it to your employer within 45 days of it happening, hopefully sooner.  If you get medical treatment right away it makes it almost impossible for them to say that your treatment wasn’t for a work injury.  They are playing games with her health when she has done everything right.

The positive here is that it will be an easy problem to solve once the form is filed with the State. Of course it’s a joke that she had to go through this at all.

If you have any questions about your case, please call us at 312-346-5578.  We cover all of Illinois and every consultation is free.

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