WNBA Players Should Start Filing For Worker Compensation Benefits

We are Illinois work comp attorneys with over 27 years of experience. Call us any time for a free, confidential consultation at 312-346-5578.

I’m a huge basketball fan. And I love the deserved hype the WNBA is getting. I couldn’t be more excited that Angel Reese is on the Chicago Sky. She seems like a female version of Brian Urlacher, Horace Grant, Dick Butkus, Dennis Rodman and other hard nosed, blue collar Chicago legends. I expect she will do amazing things here.

The league is improving by leaps and bounds. Players are getting charter flights to their games now. While the salaries aren’t where they should be yet, many players are receiving great endorsement deals.

All that said, there is still a roster size cap of 12 players which means there are only 144 spots league wide. Not everyone is Angel Reese or Breanna Stewart or A’Ja Wilson where their spot is assured. So a lot of these women are still trying to not rock the boat in some ways. This is evident when it comes to Illinois workers’ compensation benefits.

The nature of playing basketball means that there will be a lot of injuries. The season hasn’t even started and #3 overall pick Kamilla Cardoso is out with a shoulder injury. Second round pick Brynna Maxwell is out with a knee injury. Vet Taya Reimer has been dealing with a concussion.

There are more injuries to come. It’s just unavoidable. And yet according to the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission website, it’s been three years since a Sky player has filed for work comp benefits. Last year forward Morgan Bertsch missed eight games with an ankle injury. She’s healthy now (and was traded) but like any other worker in Illinois she is entitled to a settlement. Same holds true for players who got hurt while playing in Chicago for other teams.

These are women who aren’t making huge salaries. So to pass on a likely five figure, tax free work comp settlement doesn’t make sense. Yet somehow the league has avoided any claims by Sky players since 2021. For players who suffered career ending injuries or long term ones with surgeries, they could be entitled to six figure settlements.

The good news is that all players are subject to the same time limits for filing as every other Illinois injured worker. That means they can file the case within three years of the injury date or two years from the last payment of compensation related to the injury which would be medical bill payment.

These benefits are rights that every worker is entitled to. The next step in the WNBA’s player growth includes collectively not being intimidated by limited roster spots and worried about retaliation if you pursue a right you are entitled to under law.

Can A Physical Therapist Take You Off Work And Other Illinois Work Comp Questions

We get so many great questions from injured workers in Illinois. A lot of them turn into blog posts. With some of the others we like to put them into a post every few months. Here are some of the great questions we’ve received so far in 2024.

I’m seeing a physical therapist for my back injury. My doctor says I can still work, but the therapist says I should be off work. If they write a note that says that can I get TTD benefits?

While theoretically this is possible, the answer is usually no. The opinion of the medical doctor will usually be seen as more credible. Even without a conflicting opinion, usually the Illinois Workers Compensation Commission is looking for an opinion from a MD. My advice is to raise your concerns with your doctor and tell them what the therapist said. Sometimes they will listen to that.

I’m settling my work comp case, but the insurance company wants part of my payment to be in an annuity. Can I be forced to do that?

No!!! I hate when they try to do this.While an annuity may be a good idea for some people, ultimately it’s up to you as to how you manage your money.

My wife went to an IME three weeks ago. How long does it take to get that report?

The reality is that the doctor knows what they are going to say and usually write up the report within a day or two. Sometimes they get backed up, but odds are the report is already written or they aren’t going to write one because it would favor you and hurt their client. The longer it takes to get a copy, the more likely it is that it’s good news. Of course, it could just be that the insurance adjuster is lazy or behind on their work.

My case was set for trial, but the morning of the Arbitrator emailed my attorney and said we couldn’t proceed that day. Can the Arbitrator just cancel last minute like that?

Yes they can. It’s their courtroom. It’s not professional, but if they had something come up it wouldn’t be unusual. Never know if they got sick, have a funeral to go to, etc.

My case went to trial. We won but they appealed. I haven’t heard from my attorney in 4 months. So I regularly check the comp website for updates. I see the briefs were filed in December for the appeals process but nothing since. What could be happening?

Likely nothing but waiting for an oral argument date to be scheduled. Unfortunately you are at the mercy of the Illinois Workers Compensation Commission and there’s no way for your attorney to speed things up.

If you pass out at work, is it a work comp case?

It depends. Were you working in a really hot environment which caused you to faint? Did something else about the job contribute to this happening? If not, did something about your job cause you to get hurt worse? For example, if you are on a scaffold and faint and fall to the ground, your job likely made your injury worse and that would likely be a case.

Lots of great questions. As always, if you have any questions or need help with a case, please call us at 312-346-5578.

Would You Order Lasagna From McDonalds?

I got a call the other day from someone who wanted help with a copyright violation. They had read my blog, liked how I talked and said I was the type of lawyer they were looking for since I broke things down in plain English. I was flattered and thanked them, but then did what I always do which is give them the honest truth. I don’t know the first thing about copyright law and would be a terrible choice for them.

They tried to talk me into it, but I gave the example that you wouldn’t want your doctor who delivers babies to do your back surgery, so you shouldn’t want an Illinois workers compensation attorney to handle your intellectual property case. The light clicked on in their head, they realized I was the wrong attorney for them and then they said something that cracked me up:

I get it. It’s just like I wouldn’t go to McDonalds and try and order the lasagna.

Point being, of course, is that you wouldn’t ask a burger place to make you Italian food. And you shouldn’t try to hire an attorney who doesn’t focus on the area of law that is relevant to your case.

I see this all of the time unfortunately, and I get a lot of calls and emails for help from Illinois attorneys who are dabbling in workers compensation cases and have bitten off more than they can chew. There are simply too many lawyers who are taking on cases that they shouldn’t. They essentially want to go through the trial and error of handling a case by working on yours.

A lot of them do this because they underestimate how hard it will be. They don’t know what they don’t know, and if they go up against an experienced defense attorney, they will be at a big disadvantage. A lawyer who has been doing nothing but work comp for ten years, even a bad one, will know what an 8(a) petition is, as well as a Section 12 examination. They will know about the rate adjustment fund and how to properly file for penalties and fees. They will also be up to date on current case law and know things like shoulder injuries fall under man as a whole for settlement.

The things I stated might sound confusing to you and they should as this isn’t what you’ve been trained to deal with. And they would sound confusing to a lawyer that doesn’t know about Illinois workers comp laws. Even if they are handling personal injury cases they wouldn’t know as that’s a completely different court system.

Your attorney should be able to demonstrate a track record of being involved in hundreds of prior cases. They should know the medicine behind work comp injuries and the laws that govern them. It’s what gives you the worker the best chance of success. And without that, you are ordering lasagna at McDonalds.

When You Are The Reason You Got Hurt At Work

Illinois workers compensation laws are in place to make sure that if an employee is injured on the job, they have financial protection. That means that their employer, who is required to carry workers compensation insurance, will pay for the medical expenses related to the injury. Doctors visits, tests, surgeries, medications, physical therapy and other treatments are typically covered.

Financial protection also means that if the injured employee is unable to work for a period of time, they will receive some compensation to make up for their lost wages. This is called temporary total disability or TTD.

If the injury is particularly severe, and the employee cannot go back to their job, vocational training or job placement services may be required and part of a workers compensation settlement.

A key question to determining if an injured worker has a strong case and will likely receive workers comp benefits is, “How were you injured?” We need to know the facts surrounding the injury. What was the exact cause?

The reason we need to know this is because if the injury was self-inflicted, it may not covered under workers’ compensation law. But the lines are a little blurry around this, so we highly recommend you contact us and explain your situation so we can share our opinion on whether or not you have a case.

Intentional self-inflicted injuries are typically not covered, but what if an employee cuts himself on a machine he is operating? The employer could argue that they provided safety training and protective gear, and the injury is the fault of the employee. And none of that matters. If you are doing your normal job duties, unless you fall in one of the categories below you’ll be covered. You don’t have to prove that the machine malfunctioned or the protective gear wasn’t sufficient.

The following types of accidents are also typically not covered, but you should still ask as there are exceptions to these exceptions:

Horseplay: Injuries from horsing around, fighting about things not relevant to the job, or playing pranks at work. The classic case we were taught in law school involved a worker hurt while joy riding in a golf cart on the job. They took a hard turn, fell off and were injured. That was not a case because the way they were driving was way beyond the scope of their job. In fact their job didn’t even require them to use the golf cart. And even if they were allowed to use it, they did it in a reckless way.

Outside work hours: Injuries occurring outside of work, such as a car accident while getting coffee before work, or tearing your Achilles at a 5k with work friends on the weekend. But if the 5k was a mandatory work event or you were on a work call when the accident happened, it could be covered.

Alcohol or drug impairment: Injuries, even if you are on work premises, but you are under the influence of drugs or alcohol will prevent a successful work comp case unless you can show that your injury had nothing to do with drugs or alcohol being in your system. The most common example is when you smoked marijuana over the weekend and get hurt on Monday while sober.

You might have an idea on whether or not your injury will qualify you for workers compensation. The bottom line is that you can be at fault and still get benefits. We have decades of experience in this, so please contact us any time for a free consultation.

Chicago Work Comp Firm Allegedly Falling Apart

There’s a Chicago workers’ compensation law firm that over the last ten or so years has handled thousands of cases. They do a lot of advertising, but I don’t usually hear the same complaints about this firm as I do about some of the other firms that do whatever they can to sign up more cases than they can handle. And they were never like some of the other terrible firms where they were churning through frustrated staff and attorney employees who would quit due to lack of training and other shenanigans.

Sometime in the last six months or so the main partners appear to have had some sort of falling out. One of the name partners, who has a reputation as the best of the attorneys, left the firm. Since that time we’ve been getting 1-2 calls a week from their unhappy clients. They are telling us things like they can’t get a return phone call, nobody answers their questions, nothing is happening on their case, etc.

I saw that one of their associates has now also left and I was told that the firm itself may dissolve. It appears that they may not currently have enough good attorneys to handle the case volume. Again to be clear this is second hand news and I’m not mentioning any names because that’s not the point of this post.

The point is that this type of thing happens a few times a year. Maybe not as much with a firm that from the outside appeared to be successful, but it’s also not the first time we’ve seen that too. So the question is, what should you as a client do if the firm you hired appears to be falling apart?

The answer really depends on the case itself. The recent caller to our office was only injured a couple of months ago and was getting paid incorrectly with no action done to solve the problem. They couldn’t get a return phone call from any attorney due to the apparent chaos. That was an easy one to advise. It was clear they needed a new lawyer.

Other clients of theirs are likely happy with their attorney. In that case you should probably stick with them. That said I’d have a discussion about the direction your handling attorney will be going. Are they joining a new firm? How many cases do they now have? If things are going well I’d stick with them, but pay attention to see if their service slips.

If your case has gone to trial, there’s a big settlement offer, or is really old, you are probably stuck with them. Hopefully you don’t get screwed over in the process.

Some of the injured workers they are representing might fall somewhere in between all of these examples. You don’t want to go down with the ship, but aren’t sure what to do. In those cases I’d suggest you have a second opinion consult with an experienced firm to see what makes sense. An honest lawyer won’t tell you to switch just because, but rather will help you figure out what makes sense. It costs nothing to switch, but a good lawyer will not tell you to switch if they don’t think it’s the right thing for you.

If you’d like a free consultation because you have concerns about your lawyer or any other reason, call us in confidence at 312-346-5578.

Can Uber and Lyft Drivers File For Workers’ Compensation?

We have helped tens of thousands injured people and would love to help you. Call us any time for free at 888-705-1766 to speak with an attorney.

The job world has dramatically changed over the last 20 years. When I graduated law school in 1997, there wasn’t a “gig economy.” It’s great that so many money earning opportunities have been created where people can work at their own pace when they want. Some of these companies are better than others. The most popular ones are probably Uber and Lyft.

We’ve been called my hundreds of ride share drivers over the years who have been injured in a car accident and are looking to see if Uber/Lyft has to provide them workers’ compensation benefits. While there’s certainly an argument that the amount of control over pricing means they are actually employees, the courts have so far treated these drivers as true independent contractors. And under the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act they probably are.

So unfortunately, the only way to help a ride share driver get workers comp benefits is if they took out a work comp policy on themselves. In that case, which rarely happens, they are their own employer and covered for injuries sustained while working. They would get the same benefits any other employee gets.

Where we have been able to help these drivers is when someone else is at fault for the accident. It could be a rider who attacked them. It could be another car that ran into them. In those cases, when there is an injury, there is likely a personal injury case to be made. And if Uber/Lyft had reason to know the passenger was violent, there could be a lawsuit against them too. Both companies have been shady at times in my opinion when it comes to covering accidents and injuries that occur while driving.

A final issue that comes up is a lot of injured workers have side hustles like this. Sometimes these earnings can and should be included in average weekly wage calculations. This can greatly increase the amount your settlement is worth and if you can’t drive due to the work injury from a different job, you may be entitled to compensation for lost earnings. This is all a part of the full analysis we or any good attorney does when representing an injured worker. They should be asking you if you have any other sources of income and if they don’t you should bring it up.

Please note that it would not surprise me if how Uber and Lyft drivers injuries get handled changes some day. In other words, I’m writing this in 2024, but if you are stumbling upon this years later, reach out to make sure the law is still the same.

Illinois Work Comp Attorney Doesn’t Go To Court

When you hire a lawyer for an Illinois workers’ compensation claim, you reasonably can expect them to help you from the beginning to the end of the case. Most cases don’t go to trial, but it can happen and that is part of your lawyer’s job. It’s really basic stuff.

There are some Illinois work comp lawyers who just don’t like to go to trial. It does take some prep work and keeps you from working on other cases, so they will recommend settlements for less than the case is worth and maybe go to trial once or twice a year. I’ve seen lawyers brag about not going to trial at all in a calendar year.

But there’s one work comp attorney who takes the cake in the shamefulness department. 20 years ago they were a strong advocate for injured workers. Now they are in their 70’s and still signing up cases, but they will not go to trial. Ever. The problem is that they know this, but won’t tell you the injured client until it becomes clear the case needs to go to trial.

Their strategy for handling the problem is even worse. Per a very credible sounding caller to my office, this lawyer told him that she doesn’t try cases and to just show up to court on a certain date and meet a certain lawyer. No documents were signed which is highly unethical as is the fact that this new attorney actually tried the case without preparing the injured worker or meeting with them before the day in question.

Typically your lawyer, who knows your case, will prepare the questions they want to ask you and go over them with you in advance of trial. They want to know how you will answer, make you feel prepared, correct you if you are rambling on and generally increase your chances of the best result possible. None of that happened with my caller.

It’s really shocking. If you don’t want to take cases to trial or to refer out potential clients to other lawyers just retire. It’s better for everyone involved.

What you as a worker can do is make sure to ask any attorney if they will take your case to trial if needed. It would be stunning if they say no, but some will or will hem and haw which is a red flag that they aren’t the best fit for you. They should want to avoid a trial if they can, but they have to be willing to do one if necessary.

This was really a jaw dropping call for me. I knew this older lawyer doesn’t take cases to trial, but had no idea that they would really screw the worker the way they did.

How To Fire An Illinois Workers Comp Attorney

A caller to our office relayed the following scenario:

I hired an Illinois work comp lawyer. My contract with them says I can terminate them for a reasonable fee. They are doing nothing for me so I want to get rid of them and get a new lawyer. They won’t return my phone calls or respond to my emails. I was told he needs to sign some form to get him off the case. How do I fire him?

There’s a lot to unpack here.

First off, when you hire an Illinois work comp attorney, everyone signs the same contract. It’s provided by the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission. It sounds like this terrible attorney added a clause or an additional page that says what will happen if they get fired. Only lawyers who get fired a lot would think of something like that. Either way, it’s not enforceable. You don’t have to pay them a fee to get them off the case. They can argue that they are entitled to a part of the eventual 20% lawyer fee when the case is settled. But that’s between them and the new attorney to work out.

Second, you don’t need to get them to sign anything to get them off the case. The way it typically works is you find a new lawyer and that attorney will send your old lawyer a motion to substitute attorneys. Most lawyers who are getting fired just sign it. If they don’t/won’t, which we’ve seen happen, the new lawyer will just present the motion to an Arbitrator who will grant it. A lawyer can’t stay on a case because they want to. In almost every scenario, if you want them removed they will be.

Third, good for this injured worker for taking action when they have an attorney that isn’t fighting for them and isn’t responding to calls and emails. That’s the bare minimum expectation and it’s important to act before it’s too late which is usually when a settlement offer has been made.

So how do you fire an Illinois work comp lawyer? You don’t have to worry about that. Instead your focus should be on finding someone who will be willing to replace them. We’ve seen a lot of injured workers stuck with no attorney. Even a crappy one is likely better than nobody. So call around to firms like ours or others that have a good reputation and care about their clients. Explain the case facts, what’s gone wrong and have a discussion with the new attorney. Your advantage is that you should now be able to talk more intelligently about the process with a new lawyer since work comp is no longer new to you.

Once you find that better attorney, they should handle everything for you. You might have to get them copies of medical records or bills you have in your possession, but they will communicate with your old lawyer to get officially on the case and a copy of your case file.

Probably 25% of the calls/emails we get are from people who hired the wrong attorney, so if you are feeling this way know that you aren’t alone. If you’d like to discuss a case and getting a better attorney, call us any time at 312-346-5578. We help everywhere in Illinois via our state wide network of lawyers.

When Your Illinois Work Comp Attorney Sucks

I had a very interesting call with an injured worker recently that was going through a unique situation. Her case was set for trial and as she was preparing for trial she felt her attorney was a bit off. So she looked him up and discovered that he’s not licensed to practice law. I can’t tell you enough how hugely surprising this is as it’s a potential felony and this person works at a well known firm.

So what it seems like is that this former attorney is working and just hasn’t told anyone that he lost his license.

While this is an extreme example, it’s not the first time we’ve seen an attorney doing a really bad job and it won’t be the last. Usually it comes down to lying, not being prepared, not knowing the case or the law or something awful like not showing up for court.

What I encouraged the caller to my office to do, since her case was older, is report her attorney to both the ARDC (the State lawyer licensing board) and to the boss of her lawyer. My guess is that the boss has no idea this guy lost his license. He’d likely be horrified to find out that it’s happening and that this attorney is putting his firm at risk including potentially exposing them to a legal malpractice lawsuit for mishandling of cases (that doesn’t appear to have happened in this case fortunately).

While this caller would have trouble finding a new attorney due to the age of the case, if you’ve been more recently injured and/or don’t have a settlement offer, the other thing to do is get a new lawyer. It costs nothing to you to switch firms. Quite often when your work comp attorney sucks they are either the head guy and burned out/bad at what they do or someone younger who is at a firm that accepts that type of terrible work performance. This caller is unique in that I think there’s a chance to get a better attorney at the firm to take over. Hopefully that actually happens.

What you can’t do is sit back and ignore nonsense, assume it’s acceptable or hope it goes away. You don’t have to be a jerk, but it’s perfectly acceptable to make a call to the head partner or your handling attorney and express your concerns. You are the customer and they should deliver customer service to you.

That doesn’t mean they do everything you want or are on call 24/7. It does mean that they advocate for you and that something shady, like practicing law without a license, shouldn’t happen.

And finally, a warning story about switching before it’s too late. One case we almost got involved in, but didn’t involved a downstate lawyer who the client felt wasn’t doing a job, but she “didn’t want to be a pain or a bother.” Long story short is that he settled her case and ran off with over $60,000 owed to her. This is another extreme example and hopefully she will get it back through a lawsuit against his partner. But in my experience, bad lawyers don’t suddenly turn it around. If you see red flags and ignore them, ultimately the bad result is on you in some ways.

FedEx Work Comp Cases In Illinois

Federal Express, or FedEx as it is known to almost everyone, employs a lot of people. Over 540,000 people work for FedEx. Many thousands of those work right here in Illinois.

The shipping company is known for its air delivery service, FedEx Express, which gets packages to their destination overnight. FedEx also has FedEx Ground (think delivery trucks), FedEx Office (originally Kinko’s), and other services. Its main competitor is UPS.

There are a variety of positions at FedEx that are critical to its daily operations. Pilots fly cargo planes across the country and delivery drivers drop off packages at the homes and offices in every US city and town. Mechanics and maintenance technicians ensure that the fleet of airplanes and trucks are in working order. There are store managers and clerks at the FedEx Office locations that help customers with printing, copying, packing and shipping tasks. Freight handlers sort packages and load planes and vehicles.

Due to the sheer number of FedEx employees, as well as the number of very active and movement-based jobs at the company, we frequently get contacted by FedEx workers who have been hurt at work. We see a wide variety of injuries, some of which are caused by:

  1. Repetitive motion, performing the same movements over and over, day after day, week after week. Carpal tunnel and epicondylitis are common as well as shoulder and back injuries from overuse.
  2. Vehicle accidents. Drivers are on the roads for several hours every day. Collisions with their trucks happen. In addition, drivers cross the road to make deliveries and unfortunately have been hit by cyclists, by people on scooters, and of course by cars or trucks.
  3. Lifting heavy packages. Lifting is part of the job for many FedEx employees. Back, neck, shoulder, and leg injuries are common. Drivers also get in and out of a high driver’s seat many times a day, leading to injuries.
  4. Warehouse accidents. Many FedEx employees are around machinery, both moving and stationary, such as forklifts and conveyor belts. Whether it is a user error or a malfunctioning machine, we have seen broken bones and major injuries result. We probably get 20 calls a year from just employees who have had their feet/leg run over by a forklift.

This is not a complete list, of course. But if you are a FedEx employee who has been injured on the job, we can help you. We have a state wide network of reputable attorneys that have successfully brought many workers compensation claims against FedEx.

FedEx is a huge company with a lot of resources, but the right attorney can help make sure that you receive the workers compensation benefits that you deserve. We aren’t afraid of “taking on” FedEx, and you don’t have to pay anything upfront.

If you would like a free consultation with an attorney who has had success against Federal Express, contact us any time at 312-346-5578. We help everywhere in Illinois.