A reader asks:

I hurt my back at work nearly three years ago and had surgery.  It was a long process to get better, but I was finally discharged by my surgeon about six months ago. I’ve been back at work and feel great.  Do you know when the insurance company will make me a settlement offer?

We hear versions of this question all the time.  The 100% honest truth is:

1. They don’t have to make a settlement offer.  Unlike paying your lost time and medical bills, a settlement isn’t mandatory.

2. If they do make an offer, in 95%+ of the cases we’ve seen, it’s in the very low end of the range of what your case could be worth. So if your case is worth between $30-50k, you can expect the offer will be between $24,000-$30,000.  Why so low? First off, they automatically deduct any offer by 20% because that’s what you’d have to pay a lawyer.  So you think you are saving money with no attorney, but you aren’t because they take out those fees.  They then offer enough to make it so no attorney would want to touch the case, but low enough that it saves them money. You get screwed.

3. If it’s an injury that often gets hurt again, like with back injuries, they often won’t offer anything.

4. For cases like this one, they are hoping that the statute of limitations to file a case will pass and the worker will lose their rights to get a settlement at all. They won’t put it in writing, but they’ll say things like, “We’re working on it” or “We are waiting on some of your medical records” or “We want to see how you are doing in a few months.”  It’s all delay tactics designed to hurt you.

The only way to make them give an offer is to formally file a case with the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission.  That way if they won’t settle or offer something fair you can have a simple arbitration where a payment will be ordered that they have to comply with.

I realize that it sounds like I’m saying you will get more money with a lawyer because I’m a lawyer, but if you read my blog or talk to me you know that I am bluntly and brutally honest.  If injured workers could get a fair shake without an attorney I would tell you.  The God’s honest truth is that insurance companies are worried about their bottom line and their bottom line only.  If you think they are going to be fair with you or give you what you are entitled to, you are simply being naive. They don’t have to make an offer and if they do it’s almost never fair.

If you want to talk about any of this or just have a question, call or e-mail at any time for a free, no commitment consultation. We will talk to anyone at any time and we will give you the same advice we’d give our family members and friends if they were in your shoes.