A recent caller to my office wanted to know how long he had to file his case. He had heard it was two years from the accident date (FYI it’s a minimum of three years) and that time was fast approaching. All of his medical bills had been paid as had his time off work. He had a surgery on one leg and a recommendation to do it on the other leg which he passed on.
He wasn’t ready to hire use because he was worried about getting fired and losing out on his vacation and bonus pay. I don’t believe that would happen, but I get why he’s thinking about it. He said he’d look to settle before the three year mark is up after he quits his job.
We started talking about what his case might be worth and he had heard there is a chart that determines what each case is worth. I let him know that while there is a chart that determines what each body part is worth, the total value of the case is based on a ton of items including his medical care and recovery. It’s also based on your leverage and that is when dodge ball game up.
What I said to him as that he has to picture settling an Illinois work comp case as a game of dodge ball. It’s all about your leverage and advantages and not giving any help to your opponent. Imagine you and I were playing dodge ball and we were the only two left. If you had all five balls, you’d like your chances. You would never roll two over to me just to give me a chance.
Well his work comp case is kind of like that. He has a big injury that has been accepted. That’s one ball. Nobody disputes that his leg troubles are from the job. That’s two. He’s working right now at the same company and since they might be worried that he’ll get hurt again, they’d likely offer him a severance to quit. That’s three. He needs future medical treatment. That’s four. No doctor has said anything against him. That’s five. He’s got all of the balls.
His case is definitely worth something, but currently he has all of the leverage to make it worth more. If he quits there is no chance of getting a severance or having them fear he will get hurt again. If he gets in another accident away from work and hurts his leg worse, suddenly it can be disputed that his leg complaints are from the job. If he needs additional medical care, especially if it results in that surgery he put off, the insurance company wouldn’t have to throw additional money in for future medical care. They also would be able to find a hack doctor to stay most of his leg problems are related to the new accident.
Now we’ve got a fight on our hands and a case that can be settled for a really high amount will either go to trial or get settled for a lower, compromised amount.
I never tell a client to settle too soon. You want to be finished with your medical care and feeling well. But delaying that for a year on the other hand also poses risks, especially when all of the leverage is currently on your side. Under his worst case scenario he goes from five balls to one. He’ll still get a settlement, but he will have lost a lot of money.
Bottom line is that he has a decision to make. He’s trying to protect his vacation pay and bonus. But if someone runs a red light and slams in to him, he may cost himself tens of thousands of dollars. So don’t settle too fast, but don’t think about it too late. Or it can cost you.