A nice woman contacted our office with an interesting situation that probably arises in one out of every 100 cases.
She had injured her back, received months of medical treatment, went back to work and then injured her leg. The back feels great, but the leg injury is keeping her out of work.
She had been expecting a settlement for the back injury and was disappointed when she was told by the insurance adjuster that they won’t settle one case while leaving the other case open. She was offered the chance to settle both cases which would be insane as she’s still under a doctor’s care.
No matter how many injuries you have, you can’t make an insurance offer you a settlement and if they do, it usually won’t be a fair one. The way to force a settlement or get one through an Arbitrator is by getting your case ready for trial. That is the only way to 100% make them pay you something at the end.
In a situation like this one, there is no law that requires you to wait until you are all better with the second case to get paid for the first. As long as it’s a different body part, you should be able to formerly file a case and force the issue. If it’s the same body part then you would have to wait because the second injury would cloud the value and damages of the first one.
What I think might be happening in this case and is a worry for any case is that the insurance company is trying to delay the process long enough that the worker will violate the statute of limitations for filing a case and lose her rights forever to bring one. It’s a problem that can easily be solved by filing an Application For Adjustment of Claim with the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission (it’s the first thing a lawyer does) and best of all, it’s free.
Once a case is filed and a trial motion is made, most Arbitrators will not accept the insurance company whining that they don’t want to resolve the case until the other one is done. If the injuries are not related then they don’t have much of a leg to stand on.
Why do they do this? Couple reasons. One, as mentioned if they make you wait, you might wait too long. Two, they don’t make money by giving it away. Three, if they give you a settlement and you have money in your pocket, it prevents them from trying to starve you in to a bad settlement on the other case by wrongfully denying your case. Four, if they can settle both cases at once, they think they can get a discount from you. Let’s say case one is worth $50,000.00 and case two is worth $60,000.00. If they offer you $95,000.00 that’s a low offer, but since it’s two cases combined it seems like a very big number which often is enough to make people settle for less than they can get. It’s just simple psychology.
If you do have two injuries, you absolutely should get an attorney whether it’s someone from our network or someone else you find on your own and like. If you’d like our help we’d be happy to give you a free consultation to discuss your options.