They’ll do it, and not accidentally. Downplaying injuries is a common insurance company tactic. They’re trying to reduce your benefits, which saves them money. It can be incredibly frustrating and infuriating if you get seriously hurt at work and the insurance company calls it a minor strain.

Minor injuries cost the insurance company less money. Your treatment is shorter and less extensive. With a minor injury, you’re more likely to make a full recovery, or at least that’s what they’ll argue. Their goal, with any case, is to pay as little in benefits as they can manage, and then close your file as soon as possible.

This might sound extreme, but we’ve seen it a million times in Illinois workers’ compensation cases. The best thing you can do is make sure your injury isn’t minimized at the beginning of your case. It will lead you down this road where the insurer is brushing you off and trying to make your claim go away. They get away with this all the time and workers with serious injuries end up with much less than they’re entitled to.

One reason why the insurance companies get away with this is because they are good at acting like they’re helping you. The insurance adjuster might call you at home to see how your treatment or recovery is going. It seems like they’re on your side. Many workers are relieved that the process seems to be going so smoothly. But in reality, it’s a sign that it’s going the way they want it to, which is the opposite of how you want it to go.

The best way to avoid falling into this trap is to hire an experienced attorney. An Illinois workers’ compensation attorney who knows what they’re doing won’t let them take advantage of you. They’ll fight for you, making sure you get all the benefits and treatment you need. Also, the mere fact that you have an attorney will change how the insurance company handles your claim. In our experience, you are much more likely to get a fair settlement offer if you are represented by a lawyer, especially one with a good reputation. Your lawyer should still negotiate to get you the best settlement possible, of course. The point is that without an attorney, any offer you get is pretty much guaranteed to be very low.

Pay attention to the way the insurance company lists your injury. If it’s not right, don’t assume that it’s just a typo or that it’s just how the system works. If you think something is wrong, there’s still time to get help from a work injury attorney in most cases.

By Michael Helfand