FCCI And Florida Workers Compensation Lawyers

If you would like to speak with an experienced workers compensation lawyer for free, call us any time at 888-705-1766.

We have a great partner firm in Florida that includes a family member of a well respected Illinois firm. They exclusively handle work injury cases which is a bit rare in Florida. We were discussing cases and the FCCI insurance company came up. FCCI handles a lot of claims here and a ton in Florida. Here is some important information to know about FCCI cases that they shared with me.

FCCI is very aggressive in defending cases to try to either cut off your benefits, reduce your settlement value or deny your case outright. There are three main tactics they use:

  1. They try to take a recorded statement of injured workers. This is not something you have to provide nor should you.
  2. They conduct a lot of surveillance for both fraud purposes and to try to lower how much the case is worth.
  3. They send nurse case managers to doctor’s appointments. That is allowed, but they try to force their way into appointments which isn’t allowed. Often these nurses will try to interfere with your treatment.

People hire Florida work comp attorneys because it’s a tough state for injured workers and they want to make sure that they get everything they are entitled to. This includes:

  • Payment for your time off of work.
  • 100% of your medical bills being paid for with nothing coming out of your pocket.
  • A settlement for the permanent nature of your injuries.

If you have a serious injury, FCCI work comp settlements in Florida can be significant. The firm we work with on cases settled one for over $500,000 and there have been other cases against them in the seven figures. The most common cases involve back and neck injuries, but there have also been a lot of cases regarding shoulder and knee injuries and hand injuries. Most cases seem to settle pretty quickly with the average time to settlement being around 18 months.

FCCI insures all sorts of companies including nurseries, landscape companies, electrician companies and A/C repair companies. It’s incredibly important to get an attorney who has handled cases against them and dealt with their insurance adjusters and also know the Judges who handle these cases. An experienced attorney is not only the difference between winning and losing, but often can be the reason a case is worth tens of thousands of dollars more to you in the end.

SLAP Tears And Illinois Workers’ Compensation

The shoulder joint is surrounded by a ring of cartilage known as the labrum. A specific injury to this area is termed a SLAP tear which stands for: Superior Labrum Anterior and Posterior. The injury involves a tear in the top (superior) part of the labrum, affecting both the front (anterior) and back (posterior) attachment points, which potentially involves the nearby biceps tendon.

The entire shoulder and arm can destabilize, even with a minor movement, because the biceps tendon comes into the shoulder and forms the cartilage socket of the ball-and-socket joint of the shoulder.

Causes

We have helped many workers properly recover workers’ compensation benefits against employers when they’ve experienced a SLAP tear. SLAP tears can result from either a one-time traumatic event or from repetitive motions that lead to wear and tear over time. Examples of traumatic events that have led to SLAP tears in the workplace include:

Car or truck accidents

Landing a fall with an outstretched arm

Attempting to catch or quickly lift a heavy item

Dislocation of the shoulder

A fast or forceful arm movement when the arm is above shoulder level

SLAP tears that result from repetitive movements usually involves jobs that require heavy lifting and carrying. These continuous strenuous movement lead to extensive wear and tear in muscles which eventually can result in a SLAP tear. Specifically, workers in the manufacturing and construction industries are known to be at a higher risk for SLAP tears along with truck drivers.

Symptoms

The symptoms of SLAP tears mirror those of other shoulder injuries. These include:

Sensations of locking, popping, or grinding

Pain during movement or specific shoulder positions

Pain when lifting objects overheard

Decreased shoulder strength

Limited range of motion

A feeling that the shoulder might dislocate

Generally, a SLAP tear can severely limit your range of motion which in turn affects your ability to complete day-to-day activities.

Treatment

When seeking treatment for a SLAP tear, it’s essential to communicate symptoms clearly to the doctor, providing details about when and how they began. Diagnosis involves a physical examination assessing shoulder strength, stability, and range of motion along with imaging tests like X-rays and MRIs to rule out bone issues and visualize labral tears.

Non-surgical treatments are typically the initial approach, involving medications like ibuprofen for inflammation and pain management, along with physical therapy focusing on muscle strengthening and range of motion improvement. SLAP tears can take up to six months to a year to recover from. In some cases, arthroscopic surgery may be required if conservative measures prove insufficient.

For those experiencing shoulder pain or suspecting a SLAP tear, prompt consultation with a healthcare professional is crucial for an accurate diagnosis and an appropriate treatment plan to avoid future pain and suffering. That means getting with an orthopedic doctor who has years experience treating these very serious shoulder injuries.

And if you’d like help with the work comp case or just have general questions, we can help you no matter where in Illinois you are. Call us any time at 888-705-1766 to speak with a lawyer for free. There is no commitment and we will treat you like a family member or friend.

Your Employer Is Not The Boss Of You

I said to a recent caller that, “Your employer is not the boss of you,” and they were a little perplexed. His response was, “Yes he is, the owner of the company is my boss, and he makes the schedule.”

This conversation was about his employer telling him to ignore his doctor’s restrictions following a work accident that resulted in a back injury. Basically the company was really short staffed and the owner/boss wanted him to come in and help out. He wanted this even though it risked injuring this worker much more severely.

When I say they aren’t the boss of you, I mean they don’t get to override your doctor’s opinion or put your health and safety in jeopardy. You have a legal right to tell them to pound sand. I of course recommend you do that politely, but if you were to get fired for refusing to return to work after a work accident, they’d have to pay you for all of your time off and you’d likely have a wrongful termination lawsuit.

We’ve seen an uptick in these situations happening. It’s actually more common in central and southern Illinois, but happens in the Chicago area too. One of the employers acted like he had built a company and that he never took a day off when in reality he had just inherited a business started by a grandparent. I hate those types of guys and love being a part of bringing cases against them. They act like they pulled themselves up by their bootstraps when in reality they got every break in life.

The Illinois workers compensation laws are crystal clear. If your doctor says you can’t work at all, you don’t work. If your doctor gives you restrictions, if your employer can’t accommodate them, you don’t work. If they can, you don’t do work beyond those restrictions.

But in no case should your employer ever tell you that you should just blow off your doctor, “tough it out” or do anything else that is against what your doctor says.

We know that it can be hard to deal with this type of pressure. An experienced Illinois work comp lawyer who cares can protect you in these situations. If you would like a free consultation with an attorney, we help everywhere in Illinois with our state wide network of lawyers. Contact us any time.

Illinois Work Comp And Safety Violations

One of the basic premises of Illinois workers’ compensation law is that it’s a no fault law. That means in order to win benefits, you don’t have to prove your employer was negligent. Instead you have to show that your injuries arose out of your job (your job duties or something reasonably connected to your employment) and in the course of your job (while doing your job or as a result of your job).

Despite this, employers and their work comp insurance companies will try to come up with ways to say that you aren’t entitled to work comp benefits even though you were injured on the job.

In one case we were contacted on, a laborer got hit in the face with a falling brick and broke his nose. It happened in a snap and was just bad timing as he looked up when he heard his co-worker who dropped it yell. On the job site, hard hats are a requirement, but he had taken his off to wipe away some sweat and was holding it in his hand.

He filed for work comp with his boss, but told him that because he was hurt while committing a safety violation, he wasn’t eligible for benefits. That’s simply a lie, beyond the fact that it ignores the fact that a helmet likely wouldn’t have even prevented the injury.

You can commit a safety violation and still get workers’ compensation benefits. Remember, it’s a no fault law. Should he have had the helmet on? Yes. But he won’t lose his rights for not doing that.

Where safety violations matter is when you are being reckless or doing something that isn’t part of your job duties. For example, if you have access to a golf cart or other vehicle and drive crazy, taking sharp turns or speeding, a crash injury would likely not be a case.

If you are doing your work while drunk or high, that would most likely not be a case if being inebriated contributed to the accident. In other words, if you cut your hand while using a knife when drunk, that safety violation would kill your case. But if you are drunk and sitting at your work station when a forklift runs into you, it would still probably be a case.

But beyond that, workers aren’t expected to be perfect in order to get benefits. We’ve seen a lot of cases where instructions are to lift heavy objects in teams, but a worker hurts their back doing the job themselves. That’s still a case. And usually the reason they do it is because they were told to or there was nobody else there to help. Or they were just trying to get their work done.

The bottom line is that if anyone tells you that you aren’t eligible for work comp in Illinois for a safety violation or any other reason, be skeptical. We will always give you a free consultation to see if there’s a case or not. Call us at 312-346-5578 any time. We cover all of Illinois.

Reasons Why The Work Comp Insurance Won’t Talk To You

About 3-4 times a week we get a call from someone who says that they are looking to talk to the work comp adjuster on their case and have been unsuccessful. I’m not going to lie, most of these people are Amazon workers who are trying to get a hold of Sedgwick, but there are other insurance companies who this applies to also.

So the question is, why won’t the work comp adjuster talk to you?

The number one reason is actually an innocent one. If you are already represented by an attorney, the insurance company can’t and shouldn’t talk to you. They could get in trouble and doing so is unethical. Most injured workers who have a lawyer but contact the insurance company do so because either they can’t get reach their attorney or don’t want to bother them. Neither of those excuses is acceptable.

If you can’t reach your lawyer and that’s a regular problem then they are not doing a good job for you. You should fire them and get a new one which will cost you nothing to do. Get a real advocate in your corner. If you are worried about bothering them, don’t. They are going to eventually make money off of your case. Make them earn it. They are there to be contacted when you need them. It’s not a bother. If your check is late or a medical procedure isn’t getting approved, it’s their job to fix it.

The other big reason and insurance company doesn’t talk to you is strategy. It is their hope that they can frustrate you in a way that will help their case and lower their costs. That’s all they really care about. They don’t lay awake at night worrying about how you are going to pay your rent or bills or if your injury will get worse if it’s not treated in a timely fashion.

So they hope that if they ignore you, you’ll try to work when you shouldn’t or seek out medical care through your own insurance. If you do, it saves them money. It’s a dirty insurance company trick.

The final reason you don’t hear back has to do with how bad some of these companies are to work for. When they have a lot of turnover, it takes a moment to re-assign case files to someone. This can overwhelm adjusters and often they will just ignore newer files until they are caught up. You as an injured worker can get caught up in the crosshairs.

The solution to the last two problems is to file trial motions. That goes back to the first point that your lawyer needs to be an advocate for you. Your job is to focus on your health and communicate with your attorney. Your attorney is there to solve these problems as they come up. There’s no need for you to spend hours on the phone trying to get someone on the line.

Illinois Work Comp Questions and Answers You Should Know

We are Illinois work comp lawyers who will talk to anyone for free about their case or the law in general. You can reach us any time at 312-346-5578.

We get so many great questions, many of which turn into a blog post. Here are some questions and answers that we’ve had over the last few months that we thought would be of interest.

What pays more? Work comp or short term disability? In most cases it’s work comp as there is no cap on how long you can get paid for and the dollar amounts are usually higher. But to apply for short term disability, you have to state that you weren’t hurt at work. Doing so could cost you a settlement which could take tens of thousands or more from you. So if you are hurt at work, go for workers compensation. If not then go for short term disability.

My case went to trial and my lawyer didn’t do a good job. Can we re-try the case so I can present better evidence? Unfortunately no. You get one shot at going to trial. That is why it’s important that if you don’t think your attorney is doing a good job that you get a new lawyer before it’s too late.

I won my work comp trial. The decision came out three months ago. The insurance company filed an immediate appeal. I haven’t heard anything since. Should I be worried? No. It’s completely normal for an appeal to take some time. The case needs to be assigned to a commissioner who will then set a briefing schedule which is a time frame for each attorney to put in writing why they think the appeal should be overturned or upheld. After that there will be time for oral arguments before three commissioners who then might take months to issue their ruling.

If I get a lump sum settlement, can I return to work? Yes and most people do. In some states, like Florida, they ask you to resign in order to get a settlement. That’s not the case in Illinois. In fact, we tell most people not to settle the case if they haven’t returned to work already.

How long does it take to get your workers’ comp settlement check? It typically gets paid within 30 days of the Arbitrator approving the settlement contracts and those being submitted to the insurance company. If it takes longer than that you should start asking questions to your attorney and they should be calling for an update.

I received an affidavit for a work compensation case and I would like to known if I should sign it or not. I wouldn’t sign anything that you haven’t had reviewed by a lawyer. It’s not common for workers to be sent affidavits so I’d be really careful.

If I get hurt at work, do I get paid for having to leave that day? Typically no, unless your doctor takes you off work for that day and you miss more than three calendar days of work in total.

Lots of great questions. If you have any, please reach out any time.

No, Your Lawyer Isn’t Tanking The Case

There is a meme I saw that said something like, “Of all the things that never happened, that never happened the most.”

This popped in my head when thinking about the calls I get once a month or so from people who have Illinois work comp attorneys and are worried that their lawyer has been paid off or is trying to hurt their case.

One caller was upset because the IME doctor said they faxed a report to his lawyer and the lawyer said he didn’t receive it. Rather than think about all of the possible explanations such as them having the wrong number, a secretary misplacing it, the attorney not seeing it on his desk yet, etc., he assumed his lawyer was working against him.

Other callers have said that their attorney must be on the take because the case is taking so long. One, who won their trial, thought their attorney had been paid off because the appeal the insurance company filed has been pending for over a year. When I explained that is how appeals work and showed them where online to see the status of their case, they said their attorney had said the same thing. Why they’d not trust the attorney who had won their trial is a bit of a mystery to me.

None of this is to say that there aren’t attorneys who are lazy out there or doing a bad job on cases. This happens all of the time sadly and will continue to happen. I was called by a lawyer recently who had taken on a case, but wanted to bail on it because it needed to go to trial. He had essentially been sitting on if for six months hoping to get a settlement offer. His client suffered due to his laziness and incompetence. That situation happens all of the time.

But I promise you that even the worst Illinois workers comp attorney isn’t on the take or being paid off in any way to blow your case. That simply doesn’t happen. There have been attorneys over the years who have stolen their clients settlement checks or otherwise committed fraud. But it hasn’t been with the help of an insurance company. They simply don’t do that and nobody would because in the grand scheme of things Illinois work comp cases aren’t worth that much compared to what they’d have to lose.

Having these thoughts is normal so I certainly don’t blame the people who have them. We have been able to put a lot of people’s minds at ease with a second opinion phone call. If you’d like to discuss a case, we are happy to talk to you any time.

5 Illinois TTD Questions

Under Illinois workers compensation law, TTD or temporary total disability is the pay you receive after you are injured on the job and can’t work. Sometimes it’s because you are fully off of work per your doctor. Other times it’s because your doctor has given you work restrictions that your employer can’t accommodate.

The TTD pay is 2/3 of your average weekly wage for the 52 weeks prior to the accident and is tax free. We get a lot of great questions from clients and blog readers about Illinois TTD benefits. Here are five that we think most people should know about.

  1. I was hurt at work and have been receiving TTD benefits. I want to hire a lawyer because the insurance company won’t approve my MRI. If I do that, will the attorney take 20% of my weekly checks? No. We don’t take a penny of TTD benefits unless they aren’t getting paid and an attorney has to go to court or use significant effort to get it paid to you. Otherwise all that money stays in your pocket where it belongs. There are some shady attorneys who will take TTD money they probably shouldn’t get so look out for them.
  2. I was working two jobs when I got hurt. The main one where the injury was caused I made $700 a week. I got an additional $300 a week from my part time job. I can’t work either job. Do they have to cover the lost wages from my second job too? The answer is likely yes, but it depends on whether or not your employer knew about the second job and approved of it. They don’t have to give verbal or written approval, they just can’t have told you that they didn’t want you working elsewhere. For about 95% of the people we talk to this is never an issue and you get paid for both jobs.
  3. What happens if I can work one of my jobs, but not the other? Do I still get TTD? Assuming they were aware of that other job then yes. You’d get temporary partial disability or TPD which is still 2/3 of the missing pay and still tax free. This happens a lot, especially when one job is physical and the other job is not.
  4. My cousin works in Kansas and said that there is a limit as to how long you can get work comp there? Is it the same way here in Illinois? I’m going to have my second back fusion and may be out of work over a year? There is no limit on how long you can receive TTD benefits in Illinois or how much can be paid.
  5. When I got hurt at work I was making $1200 a week. I was off for a bit and went back to work and now make $1500 a week. I’m having surgery soon and will miss three months of work. Is my TTD rate based on my new, higher wage? Unfortunately it is not. The TTD rate is always based on your wages at the time of the accident.

We love answering questions about Illinois work comp law and help everywhere in Illinois via our state wide network. If you’d like to talk to an attorney for free, please call us any time at 312-346-5578.

Illinois PPD and TTD Rates For 2024

The value of an Illinois Workers’ Compensation case has to do with a lot of different factors. Two big ones are when were you hurt and how much money you were earning at the time of your accident. That will determine your pay for missing work – Temporary Total Disability or TTD – as well as the rate used in calculating your settlement – Permanent Partial Disability or PPD.

The TTD minimum and maximum rates change every six months and have recently been updated for 2024. PPD is updated once a year.

TTD is based on the state average weekly wage which is currently $1,423.44. The maximum weekly payout is 1331/3% of that or in this case, $1,897.92. TTD is 2/3 of your average weekly wage, but there is a cut off point which for now is $2,846.88 or $148,000.00 a year. In other words, most people will earn below the maximum. But if you earn $150k a year or 300k a year and go off on work comp, you’ll receive the same max payment of $1,897.92 a week.

PPD is calculated as 60% of your average weekly wage and is part of the calculation in settling your case. It is currently above $1,000 for the first time at $1,024.87. That means that injuries are now worth more than they ever were before. Rates have gone up almost $200 in less than four years which means cases are worth almost 20% now than they used to be. That means if a friend got $50,000 for an injury from 2020, that same injury today would likely be worth closer to $60,000.

By way of comparison, when I first became a lawyer the maximum PPD rates were less than $400. Changes to minimum wage laws and great advocacy by unions have helped these numbers go up. But cases now are worth more than double what they were a short time ago. As a result, it’s not uncommon to see settlements in the six figures. In fact the minimum rates now are about the same as what the maximum rates used to be.

These larger numbers are also true when it comes to workers who are permanently disabled or experience an injury that results in a wage differential.

It’s more important than ever to make sure that you are being paid based on the correct TTD and PPD rates. It can be the difference of tens of thousands of dollars in the end. If you have any Illinois work comp questions and want a FREE consultation, call us any time at 312-346-5578.

Below is information straight from the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission website with more information about minimums and maximums.

Benefit Rates

Statewide Average Weekly Wage (SAWW)

Every six months, the Illinois Department of Employment Security publishes the statewide average weekly wage (SAWW). The SAWW sets the maximum and minimum weekly benefit levels for workers’ compensation. To calculate the SAWW, total wages are divided by the total number of employees in the past six months. Some employees worked every day, and some worked only a few days, but all are counted together. (Federal workers and self-employed workers are excluded.) According to Section 8(b)6, the IWCC is to post the rates by January 15 and July 15 of each year.

Although every attempt is made to calculate the workers’ compensation rates in an accurate and reliable manner, only the Illinois statute governs. Where there is a disagreement between the statute and the IWCC’s calculations, the statute is correct.

For older rates, click here.

SAWW Rates

Start Date End Date STATEWIDE AVERAGE WEEKLY WAGE (SAWW)
01/15/2024 07/14/2024 $1,423.44
07/15/2023 01/14/2024 $1,395.92
01/15/2023 07/14/2023 $1,386.15
07/15/2022 01/14/2023 $1,344.55
01/15/2022 07/14/2022 $1,301.12

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Disability

Death, Permanent Total Disability, or Permanent Partial Disability if amputation of a member or enucleation of an eye

Recipients of death and PTD benefits may be entitled to cost-of-living adjustments through the Rate Adjustment Fund. Death benefits are paid for 25 years or $500,000, whichever is greater.

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Start Date End Date MAXIMUM MINIMUM
01/15/2024 07/14/2024 $1,897.92 $711.72
07/15/2023 01/14/2024 $1,861.18 $697.96
01/15/2023 07/14/2023 $1,848.20 $693.08
07/15/2022 01/14/2023 $1,792.73 $672.28
01/15/2022 07/14/2022 $1,734.83 $650.56

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TEMPORARY TOTAL DISABILITY

MAXIMUM

Start Date End Date Maximum
01/15/2023 07/14/2023 $1,848.20
07/15/2022 01/14/2023 $1,792.73
01/15/2022 07/14/2022 $1,734.83
07/15/2021 01/14/2022 $1,693.76
01/15/2021 07/14/2021 $1,613.93

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MINIMUM

The minimum is the employee’s average weekly wage or the rate below, whichever is lower. Number of children and/or spouse:

Number of children and/or spouse: Start Date End Date Minimum
0 01/15/2024 07/14/2024 $373.33
0 07/15/2023 01/14/2024 $346.67
0 01/15/2023 07/14/2023 $346.67

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Number of children and/or spouse: Start Date End Date Minimum
1 01/15/2024 07/14/2024 $429.33
1 07/15/2023 01/14/2024 $403.88
1 01/15/2023 07/14/2023 $403.88

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Number of children and/or spouse: Start Date End Date Minimum
2 01/15/2024 07/14/2024 $485.33
2 07/15/2023 01/14/2024 $456.04
2 01/15/2023 07/14/2023 $456.04

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Number of children and/or spouse: Start Date End Date Minimum
3 01/15/2024 07/14/2024 $541.33
3 07/15/2023 01/14/2024 $508.04
3 01/15/2023 07/14/2023 $508.04

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Number of children and/or spouse: Start Date End Date Minimum
4+ 01/15/2024 07/14/2024 $560.00
4+ 07/15/2023 01/14/2024 $520.00
4+ 01/15/2023 07/14/2023 $520.00

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New TTD minimums take effect with increases in the minimum wage each July 1, but appear in the July 15 rate. The Illinois minimum wage increased to $14.00/hour on January 1, 2024. 

PERMANENT PARTIAL DISABILITY IF NOT AMPUTATION OF A MEMBER OR ENUCLEATION OF AN EYE

*The change in PPD disability maximum amount is derived by comparing the current FY SAWW rate with the prior FY SAWW rate. PPD rates are updated annually on or about January 15
Effective 2/1/06, the maximum 8(d)1 (wage differential) award is equal to the SAWW, and the minimums are the same as the TTD minimums.

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Start Date End Date Maximum
07/01/2023 06/30/2024 $1,024.87
07/01/2022 06/30/2023 $998.02
07/01/2021 06/30/2022 $937.11
07/01/2020 06/30/2021 $871.73
07/01/2019 06/30/2020 $836.69

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MINIMUM The PPD minimum rate is the same as the TTD minimum rate (see above).

Wear and Tear Workers Compensation Injuries

The most understood work comp injuries in Illinois are when you can pin point a specific time and place when you got hurt. For example, if you get hit by a forklift and break your leg, that is usually a pretty straight forward work injury situation.

Not every case is like that of course. For many workers, you start to feel sore over a period of time or you wake up one day and are in pain. This is called a wear and tear or repetitive trauma injury.

Wear and tear means that damage occurs due to normal use. In other words, the normal activities of your job cause your body to break down and you to suffer an injury. You don’t have to be unable to work in order to qualify for Illinois workers’ compensation benefits. You just need to be able to show that your job contributed to your body breaking down and it resulted in you needing medical care.

The most common symptom of a wear and tear injury is pain. It can get better with pain medication and then gradually worse over time. Or it can be a situation where you wake up one day and are in excruciating pain. Every case and situation is different.

While this can happen in almost any profession, it’s certainly more common in some versus the others. We see wear and tear injuries a lot with :

  • Nurses – They tend to do the same movements over and over along with a lot of lifting of dead weight patients.
  • Warehouse workers – Another job that requires a lot of heavy lifting and cause backs and shoulders to break down.
  • Machinists – Not just lifting, but a lot of squatting, bending, etc.
  • Construction Workers – Not just the expected upper body injuries with them, but often injuries to the feet and ankles from walking on uneven pavement.
  • Movers – Common sense will tell you that carrying heavy couches, beds, dressers, etc. day after day can cause a problem.
  • Carpenters – They do a ton of overhead work which leads to many shoulder injuries among other problems.
  • Deli Workers – Lots of elbow injuries from doing the same motion over and over with the slicer.
  • Secretaries and Data Entry – All of that constant typing often leads to carpal tunnel syndrome.

The first thing to do when you begin to feel significant pain is go and see your doctor. You should also let your employer know that you believe the repetitive nature of the job has led to a wear and tear injury. You should do this ASAP when you have any indication your problems may be work related.

These cases are often denied by work comp insurance companies, but we have a great track record of helping injured workers recover owed benefits through our state wide network of aggressive and experienced lawyers. And of course there is no fee to talk or begin a case. If you’d like a free consultation, please contact us any time.

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