We got a call recently from a flight attendant for United Airlines who had a really screwed up case. This person wasn’t based out of Chicago, but was able to make an Illinois workers’ compensation claim because the collective bargaining agreement allows pilots and flight attendants to bring their cases in Illinois if they were originally hired in by United.
The problem was that this worker at first hired a lawyer in their home state which was not the best choice for the worker because the benefits in Illinois are higher. That attorney didn’t know about this rule until the insurance adjuster told him. He then referred the case to a friend who has handled some Illinois work injury cases, but doesn’t do it on a day in and day out basis.
So while some Illinois benefits were approved, my read on the situation is that there were two big problems:
- The new lawyer didn’t have much experience in dealing with Gallagher Bassett, the insurance company that handles all of the United cases. Knowing them and dealing with them on a regular basis helps out all of your clients.
- They didn’t understand much of what was bargained by the union nor the rigorous return to work process through the United fitness for duty program. As this case involved a very serious injury this lack of knowledge really hurt the worker.
In general, with a big company like United who often fights these cases, it’s important to have a lawyer in your corner who isn’t in their first rodeo. It’s no different than having an experienced pilot. We created a state wide network of experienced attorneys and many of them have handled hundreds of these airline cases. That can help you.
In general when dealing with a big company like this, it’s important that your lawyer know how they operate. Some things we consider:
• Whether an employer has a light duty return to work program, what forms the worker will be asked to review, whether they should be signed, and what sort of work one can expect to be given if they return to restricted duty,
• Whether a particular employer typically accommodates employers with permanent restrictions
• Whether there is a collective bargaining agreement in place and, if so, what ramifications it may have on work status and job assignments,
• Whether disputed medical bills will be paid by a health insurance company that typically does not assert a reimbursement interest
• Who the recovery agent is for a group carrier that does seek a reimbursement interest
• Whether there is a Health and Welfare Fund that is paying medical bills and whether there is ever any negotiating a reduction in the lien
Not having to figure out these things as we go helps you. It’s not that an inexperienced attorney couldn’t get the job done. It’s that an experienced one greatly increases your chances of success.
If you’d like to talk about your case for free, fill out our contact form or call us at (312) 346-5578. You will usually speak with a lawyer right away.