How Long Does It Take To Get A HUGE Settlement?

I was sent an e-mail written by a lawyer at what I think is the worst Chicago workers’ compensation law firm. They lose clients all of the time and this was another unsatisfied customer due to their lies and terrible customer service.

In the e-mail that was sent after the client told the attorney they were firing them and getting a new lawyer, the crummy lawyer said,

“We are shooting for a HUGE settlement. It takes time to get the type of money we are seeking.”

This is shady law firm marketing 101. Which firm gets you more excited, the one who gives you an honest evaluation of what your case is worth or the one that leads you to believe your case could be worth a ton or money, way more than anyone else thinks you can get?  They’ve made a living by over promising and under-delivering.  Usually by the time the client finds out they are liars it’s too late because a settlement offer has come in and no attorney will take over.  This wasn’t the case in this one.

Forgetting the fact they are liars and quite literally the worst attorneys I’ve come across, let’s take a look at this lie.  How long does it take to get a HUGE settlement?

The answer is that it depends on the case facts.  If someone is killed on the job, a “HUGE” settlement could be negotiated right away.  How long it will take depends on the insurance company and how reasonable they are.  If you have a major injury, the biggest time factor is the time it takes you to get healthy and return to work.  We can’t work on a settlement during the time you are receiving medical treatment, or more accurately, we shouldn’t.  You don’t want to settle before your medical care is done.

Is it easier/faster to settle a case that’s worth $5,000 than one that is worth $500,000? Of course it is.  A low level insurance adjuster can sign off on a $5,000 settlement in almost any case.  On the other hand, to get $500,000.00, which is a very high and unique result, you typically need the approval of multiple higher level executives and it will only happen after the insurance company has sent you to an IME doctor and likely done extensive video surveillance on you.

The bottom line is that to get a “HUGE” settlement you need a huge injury and by the nature of that, those cases just take longer. In this case, the lawyer wasn’t “working on it” or anything else and the client was smart enough to see through the b.s

If you have questions about an Illinois work comp settlement or anything else, get in touch any time for a free and honest consultation.

Is It A Case? You Quit And Then You Slip

The most common Illinois workers’ compensation law question we get is, “How much is my case worth?”  The second most common question we get is “Do I have a case?”

An interesting scenario came up in a recent call from a worker who wondered if they had a case or not.  She had put in her two weeks notice and on her last day of work, after she had punched out, she was walking out of the office when she slipped and feel on a wet floor and tore her ACL.

The insurance company told her that she didn’t have a workers’ compensation case because she was no longer an employee when the accident happened.  Fortunately she was very smart and new not to trust what the insurance company said and reached out to see if she actually had a case or not.

The truth is that she does have a case.  While every case has to be looked at for its unique facts, in this one it appears that the accident occurred within a reasonable period of time after she quit and walking out the building was a normal activity that you’d expect a worker to take.  Coverage under Illinois workers’ compensation law doesn’t end the moment you quit or are fired.

This isn’t much different than an employee who punches out for the day and gets hurt while exiting the building.  An employer can reasonably anticipate that an employee would face some hazards when exiting a building.

I’ve seen other cases where bar workers have quit or punched out for the day and then hung around the bar for hours, only to have an accident six or so hours after they were done working.  That’s a different scenario.  Even if they weren’t drunk, a reasonable person would say they went from employee to customer at some point.  That’s of course not what happened with the woman who called me.

The flip side of all of this is that if your case is denied then you’d have the right to sue the employer if they were negligent.  So the bottom line is that you should not just go away and should get a consultation with an attorney to figure out your rights.

If you’d like a free consultation with us, fill out our contact form or call us any time at (312) 346-5578 for legal help anywhere in Illinois.

“What do you need money for?”

It’s early 2018 and we already have a clear winner for the worst thing a Chicago workers’ compensation attorney will say to a client.  It comes from a Chicago attorney who is part of a firm that we get more complaints about than any other by a wide margin and generally treat their clients like garbage.  They constantly have their secretaries lie for them and if they actually do return a phone call, they either lie or say something that belittles the client.

In this case, the person that reached out to me had been off work for two months with a clearly compensable injury.  They had not received any TTD benefits even though their boss agreed that the injury was 100% work related.  I looked the case up and discovered that the attorney had not filed any motion for trial.

Before calling me, the injured worker called this terrible lawyer one last time and asked when they could expect to be paid.  The lawyer was put off and said, “What do you need money for?”

I can’t imagine being such a garbage human being that I would ever say that to a client.  How about the fact that the money is owed? How about the fact the client needs to pay the rent and bills?  How about the lawyer go two months without any income and see how it feels?

Sometimes your benefits will get denied and it will take some time to find out if you will get paid.  But during that time it’s your lawyer J-O-B to get in to court and/or do whatever else they can to help you win. That’s why you hire them.  An Illinois work comp attorney is there to protect you and if they don’t they are worthless.  Of course in this case the lawyer is worthless and just a bad guy.

The only silver lining?  It costs nothing to switch attorneys and since this client got in touch before a settlement offer was made, it was easy to have a new lawyer take it over and get in going in the right direction.

What makes some attorneys this awful? I’d hope that it’s not being an attorney that does it to them and that they’d be bad people in any scenario.  No idea why you’d want to treat people this way.  Happy clients is as good as it gets.

How You Prove A Repetitive Stress Injury On The Job

There’s a hack IME doctor who says that you can only get carpal tunnel if you are constantly using force and working fast with your hands.  He’s been over ruled time and time again.  A recent Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission trial decision showed why this insurance company strategy is usually a loser.

In general, no matter how you were hurt at work, an insurance company will fight you case if they can find a reason. If you are claiming a repetitive stress injury, meaning that doing the same work over and over caused your problem, it will always be looked at skeptically by the insurance company.  That is true because it’s not as clear cut as if you feel a pop in your back while lifting a box or slip on a wet floor and twist your knee.  It’s also true because some repetitive trauma injuries are also acts of daily living like typing or in the case of carpal tunnel have been associated with obesity and diabetes.

So the insurance company will fight you, even if they know they will likely lose.  This new case though drops the hammer on a lot of their strategies.

In this case, a school cafeteria worker said that one day at work, after serving around 80 students, here hands, wrists and thumbs were hurting.  She had been doing this work for 15 years, six hours a day, Monday to Friday.  She also did prep work for 750 students.  After lunch she washed pans with a steel wool pad and wash cloth.  She was diagnosed with bilateral extensor tenosynovitis and carpal tunnel syndrome.

The insurance company was a hired gun who said it wasn’t compensable because he didn’t feel that the job was continuous, hard and fast enough like an assembly line. The Work Comp Commission shot this down and made clear what the law is.  They said that all she has to do is prove that her work was a causative factor in her injury. Not the only factor, not the major factor, just part of the equation.

She credibily testified that her symptoms got worse as the day and week went on with the only relief being when she wasn’t doing the job.

There is no requirement that your job duties be hard, fast and continuous.  This is the farce they want you to believe. Don’t let them.

I get that this can be confusing so if you want a FREE consultation or need any help with a case, call us at (312) 346-5578 any time. We cover all of Illinois.

IL Work Comp – Testing Positive On A Drug, Do You Have A Case Still?

There is perhaps no rule more misunderstood under Illinois workers’ compensation law than what it means if you test positive for drugs or alcohol following a work related accident.

First things first, your company has an absolute right to give you a drug test.  Most people know that.

What I keep seeing get confused is what happens if you fail the drug test.  Many people think that it’s the end of your case.  That is simply not true.

When you fail a drug or alcohol test, it creates a “rebuttable presumption” that you were high or drunk and it lead to your work injury.  In plain English this means that the insurance company can legally deny your case, but through your testimony or witnesses you can show that it had nothing to do with how you were hurt.

It’s a pretty common sense law.  If you smoke pot on Saturday and get hurt at work on Monday, you’ll fail the drug test, but no reasonable person would think that it caused you to get injured.  On the other hand if you were drunk, that would be a harder problem to overcome.

Despite how the law is written, many injured workers give up their cases because of drug tests and lazy attorneys tell clients that there is nothing they can do for them.  It shouldn’t work that way.

Recently an employee at a staffing agency won at trial after he had his case denied even though he tested positive for marijuana AND alcohol after a work injury.  How was that possible?  In this case the worker credibly testified that he smoked pot and drank alcohol after he left the job site.  The drug test was nine hours after the accident and there were no witnesses or facts that indicated that this worker was in any way impaired while at work.

So for him the bottom line was that since he came off as credible on the witness stand and his story made sense (he had left work, went to the doctor and then went home before the drug test which is a logical explanation for alcohol in his system), he won.

For you the bottom line is that if an attorney won’t listen to your story and see if there could be a case then you haven’t called a fighter.  Not every case is a winner and we’ll tell you if it’s a loser, but we will also do two thing: 1. We’ll tell you why it’s a losing case. 2. Before we say that, we’ll analyze every possible fact scenario to determine if it could be a winner.

Don’t let a lazy lawyer or misinformation be the reason you lose benefits.  This is one example, but there are many other misunderstood rules and laws and case law is always changing.

Cellulitis and Illinois Workers Compensation Cases

Cellulitis is an infection, caused by bacteria, both of the skin and under the skin. This infection can get deep into the skin layers causing major damages when left untreated. Typically, this bacterial infection, similar to staph or MRSA, starts when there is a break of some sort in your skin. Skin ulcers, surgical wounds, even the small cracks that once were athlete’s foot could be all the break your skin needs to develop this harmful infection.

I didn’t post a picture to this post, but needless to say, if you have cellulitis it can lead to huge blisters and swelling and at least will turn your skin very red.

Cellulitis can sometimes be caused by the work you do regularly at your job. Cleaners, bricklayers, mechanics, housekeepers, etc. can all be at risk for the infection that is similar to Bursitis. Cellulitis can be developed by heavy use of pressure, or over use of your joints in your day-to-day repetition. It can also have severe consequences if you do not see a doctor. Usually areas of your legs, arms and face are affected. Cellulitis of the eye, a simple eye infection, left untreated can lead to permanent blindness. Cellulitis left untreated in your skin, can cause the infection to travel to your blood stream. This infection of the blood stream could travel to your brain and spinal cord, or in extreme cases even lead to sepsis.

Cellulitis starts often as a small crack in the skin and if not treated properly, it can go from something minor to something very major.

If you developed cellulitis due to an on the job injury, you may be able to receive workers compensation benefits. Any time you are injured on the job, or due to your job you should be eligible for benefits that would cover all of  your medical treatment and bills, any out of pocket expenses and lost wages. This is not a unique injury under Illinois workers’ compensation law and I’d estimate that there are more than 500 cases filed every year for workers who have similar problems.

Big questions:

  1. What’s the case worth? It completely depends on how severe your cellulitis problem is and if it impacts your ability to return to work.  It’s almost certainly worth something, but whether that means a couple thousand or $500,000 is mainly dependent on how bad the issue is.
  2. Do you need a lawyer? Because cellulitis can be caused outside of work just as easily as it can be caused at work, insurance companies fight these cases all the time. If it’s a serious injury it would be a bad idea to go at this alone.
  3. Should I give a recorded statement to the insurance adjuster about how I think I got this? NEVER!!! This is an example of why an attorney is needed. The insurance company will do whatever they can to trip you up and get you to say it didn’t happen at work. If they can’t get you they will go after your doctor.
  4. How long will the case take? Again, it depends on how bad the injury is.

If you want a free consultation to talk about a cellulitis injury or anything else, fill out our contact form or call us any time at (312) 346-5578.  We are very experienced with these cases and know what it takes to win and get you the best result possible.

Do You Need A Lawyer That Is Able To Talk Today Or Tomorrow

Most law firms are closed New Year’s Eve and Day. We aren’t in the office today or tomorrow, but we never stop working.  In fact we have a 24 hour answering service and return calls at all hours of the day.  You aren’t bothering us if you call today, tomorrow or whenever. You can fill out our contact form or call us at (312) 346-5578 and our answering service will page us.  You’ll usually get a call back within minutes and always that same day.  In fact, some of the best client calls I’ve ever had have been with people who were stressed and never expected to get a lawyer on the line.

This is all about delivering customer service.  We can’t guarantee you’ll always like what we have to say (unless you are a fan of the blunt truth), but we’ll never blow you off.

Have a safe and hopefully fun and relaxing New Year.

Cheers!

Chicago Nurse Wins Workers Compensation Case But Still Loses

Every few weeks there is a publication of recent cases that went to trial at the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission.  A recent one about a Chicago nurse shows that details are important in winning, but so is credibility.  She won and then she lost.

In this case, the nurse was walking near the operating room control desk when a clerk pushed her rolling chair backwards.  The nurse’s foot got caught in the wheels, causing her to fall and injure her left leg and wrist.

The hospital fought the case saying that the tripping over the chair had nothing to do with her employment.  That is absurd because it was a risk of her job that a clerk could push the chair in to her pathway.  So she won in proving that she sustained a work related injury. But in the end she lost.

What ended up happening is that while the story she testified to at trial made sense, the medical records showed that she told her doctors a different story about how she got hurt.  So while the facts she described at trial made for a winning case, they weren’t believable so she lost.

The lesson from this is that the case facts are what they are.  If you lie, embellish, etc. you will likely hurt yourself in the end.  We see this most when an employer tells an injured worker to lie about how they got hurt and (falsely) promises that they will pay the bills.

Lying or lack of credibility is the number one reason people lose their case, even in cases like this one when they have the facts on their side.

When Will My Illinois Work Comp Case End?

We’ve met and talked to a lot of great people in the last 20 years, but as much as I enjoy them and most seem to enjoy me or whichever Illinois work comp attorney they work with, they are usually happy to have the case over and not have to deal with us anymore.  So it’s not unusual for an injured worker to want to know how long does an Illinois workers compensation case take?

The answer is that it depends.  Here are the things it depends on:

  1. How badly are you injured? You should never settle a case before you are fully healed.  In some cases that takes a few weeks or months, in others it takes years.
  2. Are you back to work?  If not it affects the value of your case.  We would not want to try and settle your case without knowing either you are back to work without problems or if your injury prevents you from going back to work, knowing what type of work you can do and how much you will earn.
  3. If the case needs to go to trial, is it ready for trial? That could mean taking depositions of your doctors and the insurance company doctor.  At a minimum it means securing all of your medical records by subpoena and getting the availability of any needed witnesses.
  4. Does the insurance company have a good defense and/or are they fighting the case?  They have a right under the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act to send you to a doctor of their choosing.  They can’t delay your benefits for an unreasonable period of time, but they can certainly delay a settlement.
  5. What are your goals or personal concerns? We never try to settle a case before it’s time or for less than a case is worth, but if you are about to lose a home to a foreclosure, we might push to get it done quicker for slightly less money if that makes sense for you.

But the most important reason is the first. You never want to settle before you are better because when you do, it closes out your medical rights. Health has to be the number one consideration.

Bottom line is that our goal is to get you as much as possible, as quickly as makes sense.  We’ll never tell you to settle when it’s not in your best interests.

Questions? If you want to talk about anything, call us at (312) 346-5578 any time.  It’s always free and confidential.

How Long Do You Get Permanent Disability Benefits For In Illinois?

A City of Chicago worker called me after suspecting his lawyer was telling him a lie.  Every year hundreds of City workers become permanently disabled from working through job injuries.  City of Chicago workers do some of the toughest, most dangerous work around.

Under a weird rule of City of Chicago politics, you can’t settle a workers’ compensation claim for a number in the six figures because to do so requires a full vote of the City Council and they have made clear that they don’t want to deal with workers’ compensation claims all day.

So in an odd move that has surely screwed a bunch of workers, many Chicago work comp lawyers will get their clients to settle for $99,000.00 because nobody has to approve it at the Council that way.  That might make sense on a case that’s worth $110,000.00 due to the extra time this process takes, but not on a case that could be worth $400,000.00 or any other high number.

In this case, the lawyer told the client that under a new law (which is from 2011), you only get benefits until your 67th birthday and that if he didn’t take the settlement he’d end up with less. Both of these statements are of course lies.  No insurance company or employer is going to ever pay more than the case is worth.  It’s also a lie to say that benefits end on your 67th birthday.

Under a 2011 amendment to the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act, wage differential benefits are capped at age 67 or five years, whichever is longer.  But if you are permanently and totally disabled there is no cap for how long you get benefits.  And for most people they will continue to get permanent disability benefits until they pass away.  I’ve had clients who got weekly checks for many, many years.

My advice to anyone who is permanently disabled and doesn’t have a risk going to trial (e.g. they might have a defense that would make your case worth nothing) is that if you don’t get a fair settlement offer, go to trial, get a verdict in your favor, and collect weekly checks.  Eventually, in most cases, some auditor is going to look at your file and convince someone to pay you what it takes to make the case go away.  So you could get weekly checks for three years and then decide to settle the case.  You can approach them, they can approach you or you can just continue to get the checks.

What’s crazy about this one is the lawyer, due to sheer laziness, is costing himself a much higher fee by not doing the work that has to be done.  Sadly, many lawyers would rather get a smaller fee and do nothing, than get a higher fee and have to do some work that isn’t hugely labor intensive. It’s a total joke.

Bottom line is that if you are permanently disabled and there is no argument that you aren’t, think long term rather than short term.  If you get an offer it’s going to likely be for way less than what the case is worth, at least at the get go.  Going to trial or being prepared to do so gives you the leverage to get the most money in the long run.

If you have questions about anything, we cover all of Illinois and would be happy to talk to you.  Call or e-mail us any time for a free consultation.

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