Illinois Work Comp – You Are NOT Suing Your Employer

I was contacted recently by someone who suffered severe burns in an explosion at work. He had 2nd and 3rd degree burns on his arms and face after his work-related injury in the Chicago area.

Unlike most callers, he didn’t want a workers’ compensation attorney. He was upset because the doctors and nurses didn’t at first realize how severe his burns were and wanted to treat him with a cream. So he was actually wanting to know if I knew someone to sue them.

I explained that his much stronger case would be for work comp as it would compensate him for his time off of work, pay his bills and provide him with a decent settlement. He had no interest in doing that.

When I asked why, his response was, “I could never sue my employer.”

I hear that type of talk all of the time and it requires some educating. Illinois workers’ compensation claims aren’t lawsuits. They are claims for owed insurance benefits. In other words, if you don’t have a problem using company-provided health insurance, you shouldn’t have a problem bringing a work comp case.

While technically these cases involve your employer, we almost never deal with them directly or indirectly. All cases are handled between us and their insurance company or an attorney if the insurance company hires one. That typically happens when there are disputes in your case which would mean that your bills aren’t being paid, medical care isn’t being approved, you’re not getting compensated for time off work, etc.

If you don’t make a claim for these benefits that you are entitled to under law, you will almost certainly get screwed and risk your health for a lack of medical care. And of course, you will miss out on getting a settlement which depending on how severe your injury is could be tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars. And all settlements are tax-free.

If an employer is trying to make you feel bad or guilty about bringing a case, it just shows that they really don’t care about you. But would you let them make you feel bad if you got chemo when you have cancer or went to the ER after a fall at home? Of course not even if that means their corporate health insurance rates could go up.

Well, it’s the same for work comp. If they care about you, they’ll want to make sure that your health is taken care of and that you don’t get hurt financially.

If you have questions about how these cases work or want to discuss anything in confidence with no cost or commitment, you can call us any time at 312-346-5578. We cover all of Illinois and will treat you like a family member or friend.

What We Told A United Mechanic His Case Was Worth

I get a lot of calls and emails asking me what a case might be worth. Here’s one I got recently (some info changed to protect their identity):

Hello, I’m trying to estimate a potential settlement amount for my work injury. I have 2 herniated disc L4,L5. that caused lower back pain and effects my sciatica. right leg, and foot.

Spine Dr wants to give me an epidural injection, but I may hold off on that. I make around 100k a year and am getting paid for my time off of work. What do you think my case is worth? I’ve been in the same job for 37 years.

This was my response:

There is no honest way to tell you what it’s worth right now. That’s for a few reasons:

1. We don’t know what your ultimate recovery will be. If you have any restrictions, that will greatly affect what the case is worth.

2. We don’t know what additional care you might need.

3. We don’t know what defenses they might raise.

4. Don’t know your age.

5. Don’t know your work history.

6. Don’t know your goals.

7. Don’t know if you’ll need future medical care.

Bottom line is that some lawyers will throw out a number in hopes that you sign with them. We don’t do that as we want to always be honest. That said, they don’t have to offer anything, and United is a company that often doesn’t offer settlements for man-as-a-whole injuries (reason why requires a longer explanation), and when they do, it’s often to people they ask to retire, or they lowball you.

You’ll never get less with a lawyer (even with a 20% fee) than without one. If they make you an offer before getting an attorney, you’ll have a very hard time getting a lawyer to take the case if you know it’s worth much more. If you have restrictions that they disagree with, the range of the settlement or trial value could be in the six figures. 


These types of questions are okay to ask, but we don’t give these opinions without seeing someone’s medical records and having a free consultation with them. That will cause many people not to want to go forward with us because there are plenty of lawyers out there who will tell you what you want to hear even if they know it’s not true. By that I mean there is one firm in Chicago that will tell people something like, “If you sign with us, we can get you at least $100,000 for your injury.” They are making up that number and when the case ends up being worth $20,000, they say, “Oh well.”

If you’d like a free consultation with an experienced attorney, you can call us any time at 312-346-5578.

The SVB Disaster and Illinois Work Comp

I will be the first to admit that I never heard of Silicon Valley Bank before the end of last week. For those who don’t know, it sounds like this bank held a lot of money from start ups and other companies, but didn’t keep enough of the money in house. When clients tried to withdraw their money, there wasn’t enough there.

The part that gets me furious is what happened next. Bank deposits are supposed to be insured by the Government for up to $250,000, but many customers had millions in potential losses. So within 48 hours the Government stepped in to make sure that nobody with holdings at the bank would suffer any losses.

It’s maddening how quickly the Government can act when rich people are losing money. But for people who want relief from student loans or to get healthcare, suddenly it takes forever and people say there’s no money to be had. It’s socialism for the rich and capitalism for the poor.

So what does this have to do with Illinois workers’ compensation?

According to this tweet by well respected NFL commentator Mina Kimes, the Bengals are trying to get Ohio work comp laws changed so their payouts to their players aren’t as big. It’s aim is to limit medical payouts and the size of settlements.

Much like the SVB disaster, this appears, to me, a case of the rich trying to take advantage of their power to hurt those in lesser positions. Now you might not have much sympathy for a NFL player making millions a year, but laws like this can trickle down eventually to hurt regular workers too. Once you start chipping away at a law, the next attack becomes that much easier.

I’m against anything that favors the rich at the expense of the working class. There is truly nobody cheaper than the rich and far too often they will screw the little guy. And the problem is that most legislators are beholden to the rich because those are their donors. It’s one reason why keeping unions strong in Illinois is so important. You want to support politicians who are beholden to the general public.

Permanent Restrictions And Illinois Work Comp Settlements

When asking what your Illinois workers compensation case is worth, there are a lot of factors that go into determining that. One of the biggest factors that go into valuing a case is what is the ultimate recovery you make. If you are able to return to work full duty as you were before the injury, you are still entitled to a settlement, but it will be less than if you need accommodations.

Cases where you have permanent restrictions due to a job-related injury in Illinois are almost always going to be worth more than if you can return without restrictions. There are plenty of other factors that go into determining what a case is worth (age, job history, wages, education, medical treatment received, need for future medical care, subjective complaints, etc.), but restrictions can turn a case worth $50,000 into one worth five times that amount or more.

When we say permanent restrictions, the most common one is a lifting restriction. Your doctor, sometimes after a functional capacity examination (FCE), might say that you can’t lift more than 20 pounds for example. Other restrictions could include limits on bending, standing, walking, reaching overhead, pushing, pulling, typing, and just about anything else you can think of.

If your employer can accommodate your restrictions with a real job, your case will be worth more than if you were 100% healthy. It won’t make the settlement go up by an exorbitant amount, but it will definitely add value to the case. How much more likely depends a lot on your field of work. A laborer or nurse with a permanent 50-pound lifting restriction will see a bigger increase in the case value as compared to a teacher or secretary who has the same issue. That’s because those jobs are harder to do with lifting restrictions and your future income is more likely to be affected.

Where permanent restrictions really make a case worth more is when your employer doesn’t have a job for you within your restrictions. If you were a high-wage earner and now can only find work making a lot less, you could be entitled to wage differential benefits. Under Illinois law, you’d get paid 2/3 the difference between what you’d currently make in your old job vs. what you can make. And those benefits would last until you are 65 years old.

In one memorable case I worked on, a 20-something was making over $40 an hour working on a construction site. He sustained a bad foot injury and couldn’t do any work on uneven ground. Due to his limited education, he could only find jobs making just above minimum wage. In the end, we secured approximately $400,000.00 in benefits for him.

And if you have permanent restrictions and not only can your old employer find you work, but there is no stable job market for you, your case could be worth even more money. There is no age limit for payments to workers who become permanently disabled.

Remember that every case is different. So many factors can go into what a case is worth. If you’d like a free, confidential consultation about your case, you can contact us any time at 312-346-5578. We cover all of Illinois.

2023 Illinois Workers Compensation Questions

We get so many great questions from people who want to talk to an Illinois workers’ compensation attorney. Here are some of the best ones we’ve received so far in 2023 that we thought our readers should know the answers to. If you have any questions or just want to speak with a lawyer for free, please contact us any time. We help everywhere in Illinois.

Why aren’t they taking taxes out of my workers comp check? That’s because Illinois workers’ compensation benefits are tax-free. You don’t have to report payments for TTD benefits or your settlement on any tax forms.

What is the Illinois work comp waiting period? There is no waiting period for being eligible for benefits. You are eligible the second you start working. The only waiting period applies to payments for being off work due to a work-related injury. Payments don’t start until your 4th calendar day off. But even then you get those first three days paid once you are off 14 total calendar days.

I was wondering if when employed through an agency to work at a factory, do the same rules apply about being eligible for workmans comp on the first day of employment? Yes. No employer can create special rules.

I’m a truck driver from Canada, but read your articles. Can you help me? Lots of people read us which makes me happy. That said, we can only help if you have a work-related connection to Illinois or some other State where I know a good lawyer. We can’t help in Canada. The laws are different there and we aren’t licensed there. I suggest you find someone in Canada who specializes in work-related injuries.

My boss called my doctor and changed my appointment to accommodate her schedule. Is that legal? No. That’s very illegal. Your employer isn’t allowed to do things like that.

The work comp adjuster told me that I couldn’t have surgery until one year after my accident to see how my injury responded to physical therapy. Is that true? That is very much NOT true. Work comp adjusters aren’t doctors and can’t make medical decisions for you. In some cases having surgery right away is extremely important. Other times trying physical therapy first makes sense. Whatever the case, those decisions should be made by you in consultation with your doctor. Illinois work comp insurance companies don’t get to dictate your medical care.

How many times can I turn down a settlement offer? There is no right answer to this question. Theoretically, there is no limit. It’s possible for a settlement offer to be taken away, but that is not very common at all. Realistically if you turn down an offer then you will make a counter demand and they will either increase their offer or hold the line. If you can’t agree on what a case is worth, going to trial usually makes sense.

Thanks for reading. And as always, please get in touch if you have any questions.

Light Duty And Home Health Care Workers In Illinois

There are some calls we get from injured Illinois workers where I can guess the injury before they tell me what happened. One such situation involves home healthcare workers.

These nursing specialists do incredible work. They provide convenient care in the patient’s home doing a wide variety of services such as bathing, administering medicine, wound care, therapy, and more.

One very common task involves lifting patients or helping them up. In fact, it’s a part of the job that almost every one of these home health aides has to do. So when someone calls me and tells me that they were hurt providing home health care, I can usually guess correctly that they have a back injury.

The typical situation involves having to hold all of the weight of their patient who doesn’t have great balance or falls into them. What we usually see is that the nurse ends up holding more weight than they should so their client doesn’t get hurt. Whether it’s immediate or at the end of the day, back pain appears and in some cases can result in a really serious injury.

This was the case of a Chicago home health care worker who called me recently. She hurt her back lifting a patient and eventually was diagnosed with a herniated disc. She went through physical therapy and epidural steroid injections and now is released with a permanent 30-pound lifting restriction.

Her agency employer has put her back to work in the home of a new client. The problem is that even though she’s not supposed to lift more than 30 pounds, those types of restrictions are impossible to follow.

I say that because when you do this job, you are on your own. If your patient stands up and is about to fall, you have to catch them. If they need help getting up off the toilet or out of the bath, you have to do it. You can’t avoid lifting.

And this was the problem my caller faced. Her agency was essentially ignoring her restrictions by placing her back in the home of someone who had a hard time getting around. They could have put her in a pediatric home health situation or with a patient who was more ambulatory. The problem is that those types of assignments are not as common. They didn’t want to pay her to stay at home while they found work for her, so they instead endangered her long-term health by placing her in a home with a patient that needed a lot of help.

They also of course put the patient’s health at risk and quite honestly could risk a lawsuit as a result.

The good news is that we can make them follow the work-related restrictions in most cases. Because most of these nurses work for an agency and don’t have regular face-to-face contact with their employer, they tend to get treated less than human. Illinois workers’ compensation laws protect you when you are injured on the job and are meant for situations just like this.

If you would like a free consultation to see what your rights are and how an experienced lawyer can help you, please call us any time at 312-346-5578.

Best Spanish Speaking Work Comp Lawyer In Chicago

We have said often that there is no such thing as “the best” work comp lawyer, but rather you need the best one for your case. We have created a state wide network of attorneys to make sure that when someone calls us for help, they get the right attorney for their case.

One obvious time this comes up is when an injured worker is a Spanish speaker. To them, the most important thing is to be able to communicate with someone who can understand them. That is definitely important. But the danger we see is that some people hire a Spanish speaking attorney without making sure that the attorney has a track record of success with workers comp cases.

The good news is that you can have both. There are plenty of lawyers we know who are fluent in Spanish and do nothing but represent injured workers all day. Illinois work comp law is complex enough, that if it’s not your day in and day out focus, you can’t do the best job for your clients.

And you shouldn’t have to rely on a family member or friend to always translate or work with a firm who only has paralegals or secretaries that can translate. You can get a great work comp attorney in Chicago and elsewhere who can help you get the results you deserve.

If you’d like to speak with an attorney for free, fill out our contact form or contact us any time at 312-346-5578.

El mejor abogado de compensación laboral de habla hispana en Chicago

Hemos dicho a menudo que no existe el “mejor” abogado de compensación laboral, sino que necesita el mejor para su caso. Hemos creado una red de abogados en todo el estado para asegurarnos de que cuando alguien nos llame para pedir ayuda, obtenga el abogado adecuado para su caso.

Un momento obvio en el que esto surge es cuando un trabajador lesionado habla español. Para ellos, lo más importante es poder comunicarse con alguien que pueda entenderlos. Eso es definitivamente importante. Pero el peligro que vemos es que algunas personas contratan a un abogado que hable español sin asegurarse de que el abogado tenga un historial de éxito en casos de compensación laboral.

La buena noticia es que puedes tener ambos. Hay muchos abogados que conocemos que hablan español con fluidez y no hacen nada más que representar a los trabajadores lesionados todo el día. La ley de compensación laboral de Illinois es lo suficientemente compleja como para que si no es su enfoque diario, no puede hacer el mejor trabajo para sus clientes.

Y no debería tener que depender de un familiar o amigo para traducir siempre o trabajar con una firma que solo tiene asistentes legales o secretarias que pueden traducir. Puede obtener un excelente abogado de compensación laboral en Chicago y en cualquier otro lugar que pueda ayudarlo a obtener los resultados que se merece.

Si desea hablar con un abogado de forma gratuita, complete nuestro formulario de contacto o comuníquese con nosotros en cualquier momento al 312-346-5578.

Slip And Falls And Illinois Workers Compensation Law

With another wet winter, we are of course seeing a lot of slip-and-fall cases. You’d think that if you fall at work, then any injury from that fall would be covered under the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act. While most work-related falls are in fact covered, not all are. And it’s important to know why.

The first thing needed to win a slip-and-fall workers’ compensation case, is you have to either be on company property or in a place that your job requires you to be. Think of a Target employee who works in a big strip mall and falls on ice while exiting their car. The mall isn’t owned by their employer and the lot isn’t public. Unless they were coming back from running a work errand, they wouldn’t win work comp benefits. On the other hand, if the employer owned the lot or the worker had to park there – doesn’t typically happen in strip malls, but does for many other jobs – they would likely have a case.

The second thing we look for is did your job increase your risk of injury? In plain English, you have to be able to explain why you fell. If you just fell for no reason, you likely don’t have a case. But if you work at that same Target store and slipped inside the building on a floor that was wet because customers brought in snow and ice from their shoes, then you would likely have a case.

Not all increased risk situations are obvious. You could fall because you were carrying a bunch of work items or because you were running to a meeting. Another one that was subject to a recent Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission case is when you are walking on uneven ground onan incline. In that case, a horticulturist had pulled some weeds and was walking from an area with plants to an asphalt area. As she exited the grassy part, she fell on uneven asphalt.  Because the ground was uneven, it was reasonable to infer that is why she fell and that her job put her at an increased risk of injury.

When you are in terrible pain after a fall, the first thing on your mind probably isn’t wondering why you fell. But we highly recommend that as soon as you are able to, try and figure it out if you don’t know already. The answer could be as simple as “I don’t know what I slipped on, but the floor was slippery” or as specific as “I discovered that a refrigerator was leaking water,” or something like that.

And most of all, don’t give a recorded statement to the insurance adjuster or anyone else. They will try to get you to agree that you don’t know why you fell and if you say that, it could be the end of your case before it even starts.

Surviving Spouse Rights In Illinois Workers’ Compensation Cases

One of the saddest situations in Illinois workers’ compensation law is when a client dies. When you get to know someone well, you are losing a friend, not just a client. It’s of course 1,000 times harder for a surviving spouse. The purpose of this post is to let you know your rights as a surviving spouse when an Illinois work comp claim is on file.

I’m referring to situations where a person is injured on the job and later dies of causes unrelated to the work accident. Note that if your spouse dies of a work-related injury or in part because of that (something like a heart attack brought on by significant weight gain following an accident), that would be a different type of case and one we should definitely talk about.

With Covid especially, we’ve seen a lot of instances in the last few years where someone has a work-related accident and then dies of something like Covid, cancer, heart disease, etc. Their surviving spouse wants to know if they will be able to get the settlement that their loved one would have been entitled to.

The number one thing we look for in these situations is were they at maximum medical improvement or MMI. This is a medical term that basically means you are as good as you are going to get and have essentially been discharged from the care of a doctor. That doesn’t mean you could never have more medical care, but that your recovery has stabilized and you are not going to have regular appointments anymore.

If that happens prior to the death, then you are entitled to the permanent partial disability settlement that your partner would have received. Now it’s arguable that you shouldn’t get the full amount they might have received as factors such as continued pain won’t be a real issue, but according to Illinois case law, that shouldn’t really be considered.

In a recent case, a surviving spouse was awarded a 40% loss of the man for the injury of a police officer on the job who later died of cancer. That ended up being a payment in the six figures.

What is incredibly unfair about these cases is that if your spouse wasn’t at MMI, you might not be able to recover anything other than lost time and medical bill payments. But every case is different and worthy of a review. If you’d like a free consultation with an experienced Illinois workers’ compensation lawyer, call us any time at 312-346-5578.

Chicago Bears Player Shows How To Win A Pre-Existing Knee Injury Case

One thing that I don’t think my injured workers in Illinois think about is that professional athletes are covered under the same Illinois work comp laws that they are. And because they often have major injuries, their cases can be a road map for how “regular” workers can win their cases.

Now you’d have to be a pretty big Chicago Bears fan to know who Fadol Brown is. He was signed to the practice squad in October of 2019 and never actually played a game for them. Two weeks after signing, he ruptured his patella during practice and underwent knee surgery a couple of days later.

Of note is that prior to signing with the Bears, he had played for the then Oakland Raiders and suffered a right knee injury with them as well. It was also a patellar tendon injury. But after that injury, he returned to football and normal activities and did not have any problems or treatment to that knee for over two years. And then prior to signing with the Bears he was able to pass a pre-employment physical.

So to any person with any common sense, the practice accident was an acceleration of a pre-existing condition and clearly should be covered as compensable under the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act. The Bears fought it and lost in court at arbitration. They appealed and lost that too and ultimately Brown was given a large settlement in the six figures.

The lesson for any worker in Illinois is that you can have a prior and significant problem, but that doesn’t mean you don’t have a work comp case if your injury gets worse. In this case, he was able to return to full duty work of being a football player and was treatment free for two years. The new accident required surgery which is a clear escalation of any problem that existed previously.

It should be no different for any other worker in Illinois. Imagine a construction worker with a back injury who received some physical therapy two years ago. Today on the job he’s lifting some steel and his back pops. He gets a MRI which shows a herniated disc and eventually has surgery. In the last two years he hasn’t seen a doctor once for his back. That should clearly be a great case that no insurance company can credibly fight.

Or picture a secretary who had a cortisone injection for carpal tunnel syndrome two years ago and has not seen a doctor since and has been able to work the whole time. During a busy time at work she works an extra 20 hours per week over three weeks and her carpal tunnel symptoms come back. This time they don’t get better and she needs surgery per her doctor. Just like the football player, she was hurt, got better, continued to work and then had an incident that made her problem much worse.

The bottom line is that while every case is different, don’t let insurance adjusters scare you in to thinking you don’t have a case because of some prior problem. Especially if you’ve been treatment free for a bit and able to work, the odds are likely in your favor.