You can get three things from any Illinois workers’ compensation case, but the insurance company only has to give you two of them.
If you are hurt while performing your job duties, they have to pay for 100% of your medical care. No co-pays, no out of pocket expenses as long as the treatment is reasonable, related to your accident and you aren’t hopping from doctor to doctor without a referral.
They also must pay you for your time off of work due to the accident at 2/3 of your average weekly wage. This compensation is tax free and begins on the 4th day that you miss from work.
Those two things must happen, but it’s also possible to get a pay out or settlement for your case. It’s just not mandatory.
Insurance companies will sometimes offer a settlement to close out your case for good. But more often we see either that this offer is incredibly low or it doesn’t come at all. They don’t like to just give money away if they don’t think they will have to. Instead we see more and more that insurance companies are telling injured workers in Illinois that their case is closed with the hopes that you just go away. It works enough for them for sure.
So what are you to do if you want to get a payment for your case?
First you must know that the only way to officially close a case is to agree to a settlement which is approved at the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission or wait too long to file a case and lose your rights. Otherwise we can open a “closed” case by just filing paperwork with the state. It costs you nothing for us to do that.
Once a case is filed the insurance company will offer a settlement because that’s the only way they’ll close the case and if they don’t they risk that they might have to pay for more medical care for you. Insurance companies don’t like uncertainties. If they don’t offer a fair amount or if you want to keep your medical rights open, we’d take your case to trial and get a fair ruling from the Judge.
Bottom line is that pretty much every case has some settlement value and it costs nothing up front to hire a lawyer to get this for you. Lawyer fees are capped at 20% of whatever we recover and in almost every instance you’ll end up with way more by getting an attorney than not.
But whatever you do, don’t accept them telling you the case is closed or that they aren’t going to make an offer. It’s just a game they are playing, hoping you’ll walk away.