I got a call from a guy who had a question about his Illinois workers’ compensation case settlement. His boss told him that if he settled the case he’d allow him back to first shift when the contract was done.  The case settled and he’s been stuck on third shift which accommodated his work restrictions.  He wanted to know if he could re-open the case to force the employer to put him on first shift.

The answer is you can’t do that.  When it comes to settling an Illinois workers’ compensation case, the only way to settle it is through a contract that is signed by both parties and approved by the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission.  If it’s not in the contract then it doesn’t count.

So this worker can’t make his boss give him a certain shift.  As seen in a recent case I read about, an employer also wouldn’t be able to go to court and try to have the contract overturned because certain information was missing.

This comes up the most when an employer asks for a resignation as part of the settlement.  That’s typically a separate document and if you don’t sign something that says you’ll resign, they are stuck with you.

Bottom line is we don’t ever just take someone at their word and neither should you, especially when it comes to settling your case. If it’s not in writing then it doesn’t exist, legally speaking.  If it’s not in the contract, then it’s not enforceable.

Bonus tip, there’s a little box on all work comp settlement contracts that says “Respondent has paid all medical bills.”  If that is checked yes, that means the insurance company agrees they have paid all of the medical bills related to your care.  If there isn’t additional language that says any unpaid bills that turn up are your responsibility, they may be on the hook for anything that pops up.

This is one of the reasons why getting an attorney is so important.  A good one will pay attention to these little details and make sure that the settlement contract isn’t written in a way which will screw you over.