Normally when an Illinois work comp attorney does something terrible, it makes me frustrated and I write a blog post as a therapeutic way to vent about while hopefully helping readers learn more about Illinois workers compensation law and how things really work. I had a unique experience recently when a very dumb Chicago workers’ compensation attorney put his client at risk of getting $1 on a case that is probably worth a few hundred thousand dollars.
The caller to my office was questioning his attorney who has recommended he settle his big injury case for $1.00. The reason this was recommended was because the work injury also happened due to a serious car accident while on the job. In those cases, work comp is entitled to recover up to 75% of what it paid out in the work comp case from the personal injury lawsuit. So in some cases, attorneys will recommend that their client settle the work comp case for $1.00 and a waiver from the work comp insurance company of any right to recover from the personal injury case.
So if they paid $100,000 in medical bills and TTD benefits, they could recover $75,000. If they paid you a settlement, they could get back 75% of that too. Some savvy attorneys will settle the work comp case for a $1.00 and a waiver of the recovery because they know how much the PI case is going to settle for and realize they can put more money in their client’s pocket this way. The insurance company goes along with it because they want the case closed.
The problem in this case was that when I asked the caller what the settlement offer was in the PI case he told me that there wasn’t one and there’s a question as to whether or not the owner of the commercial vehicle that hit him is insured. In other words, there’s a chance that the case could be worth nothing which would mean the caller would get nothing from the PI or work comp case if he took the deal.
I explained how dumb this was and the caller said this is like “If Bozo The Clown Was A Chicago Work Comp Lawyer” on the side. It made me genuinely LOL. What I think happened is that he has a young attorney who is not well supervised and the lawyer for the insurance company is trying to pull a fast one on him because it’s so dumb that it just might work.
You can agree to this type of deal, but would only think about it when you know for sure what is happening in the PI case or know that it’s a slam dunk situation. I honestly think that half the Arbitrators at the Work Comp Commission wouldn’t approve this contract, but it’s still terrible and a huge risk. And thanks to my caller, really funny.