The most massive Illinois work injury cases are worth a few hundred thousand dollars. I’m talking about cases where someone is permanently disabled from working or has a large wage differential from what they used to earn compared to what they can now earn due to permanent restrictions. In death cases, the minimum payout over many years is $500,000. Most cases resolve for somewhere in the five figures.
So how did the estate of a killed injured worker settle their case for $7.5 million?
In this case, an electrician fell from a balcony while installing lighting in an apartment resulting in his death. While it’s a tragic case, fortunately for the family they went to a lawyer who saw this as more than an Illinois work injury case. They had an investigation done which showed the railing on the balcony was loose. A different company had removed the railing and allegedly didn’t reinstall it correctly, causing it to be loose.
The family alleged that the loose railing contributed to the worker falling and ultimately they were proven correctly in that the case settled for $7.5M. That is obviously way more than they could have received from workers comp alone. That’s because there are no caps on what you can recover for a personal injury lawsuit. In this case, since the negligence was on a company that the electrician didn’t work for, his family was able to sue.
The bottom line is that you’d be shocked how many careless and lazy attorneys don’t try and look under every rock possible to see if there are other claims you may have. I can’t tell you how many times a call to my office for someone looking for a work comp attorney turned in to an investigation also for personal injury and/or medical malpractice. I’ve had lawyers refer me cases when they were called over a wrongful firing only to discover after some digging that there was also a potential work comp case.
You as a client can not be expected to know what cases you may or may not have and if some lawyer told you that you can’t sue, it makes sense that you’d accept that opinion. My advice, especially in serious cases like this one, is to always get a second opinion. You have to look out for you and in this case if the family hadn’t been talking to the right law firm it could have been the difference of many millions of dollars.