In almost every type of legal matter there exists a principle that if you settle your case, it’s done forever. So if you get in a car accident in Wisconsin and settle with the truck driver that hit you, you can’t turn around and then sue them in Illinois or anywhere else just because their company is based there.
In Illinois, if you settle your workers’ compensation case, you can’t re-open it at a later date. But there is a time where you can get more than one settlement.
I’ll use the example of a recent caller to my office as an example. The caller was a truck driver who herniated a disc in his back while making a delivery to Illinois. His home terminal was in Indiana. That is a terrible state for injured workers, so the insurance company pushed him to get benefits through there even though he also could have brought a claim in Illinois which is a much better state for injured employees. He had the option to bring the case here because he was hurt here.
His injury was quite serious and he’s unable to go back to his old job. He had a recommendation for a back surgery which he ended up not having. I pegged the value of his case here at approximately $200,000.00 given that he’s an older worker and knowing what his wages are.
In Indiana he was convinced to settle his case for $25,000.00. He thought that was that. He was incorrect.
Unlike any other area of law, there is a rule in Illinois that says only the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission can end your rights to bring a claim in Illinois. That is true even if you have received benefits through another state, including a settlement.
In this case let’s say that his case really would have been worth $200,000.00. Since he was already paid $25k for the permanent nature of his condition, the insurance company is entitled to a credit for that amount. But if he files his case in IL he can get the balance of $175,000.00 paid to him ($200k minus the $25k already paid).
That sounds odd and it is because as mentioned this is the only area of law where this would be possible.
The bottom line is that if you have the right to bring your case in Illinois, getting paid benefits through another state doesn’t end your rights here. That’s true even if you’ve settled your case. In fact, there was a case years ago where an injured worker signed a settlement contract in another state that said he would give up his rights to bring a case in Illinois. He still got a settlement here because that contract was not enforceable in Illinois. Remember, only Illinois can terminate your Illinois rights.
Is this confusing? I get that it could be. If you have any questions about this or any other area of IL work comp law, contact us at any time at (312) 346-5578 for a no cost, no obligation, confidential consultation.