Under Illinois workers’ compensation law, the insurance company is not required to give you a settlement offer. We’ve had a bunch of questions lately from people wondering why that haven’t gotten one and there are a ton of reasons why it could be happening. Here are some scenarios.
- High wage earner has been getting TTD benefits for a serious injury that prevents her from going back to work. She’s done treating and her lawyer made a settlement demand six months ago with no response. She continues to get weekly benefits.
- A worker without an attorney broke her leg. All medical bills and TTD were paid. She’s asked for a settlement offer and the adjuster doesn’t call her back.
- A construction worker tore his rotator cuff, is all better and the insurance company has told him they won’t make an offer.
So what’s going on here???
Under the first example, it could be a lot of things. The worker is older and while it sounds morbid, they might have made a calculation that it would be cheaper to pay her by the week than give a lump sum as they hope she might die. That would save them money. It could be that the case has so much value that multiple people and/or insurance companies have to get involved so it’s just taking time. It also could be as simple as the insurance adjuster gets paid for settling cases for low amounts and since this will be a high amount she’s just ignoring it.
Under the second example it’s likely that the insurance company is hoping that by ignoring her she will go away. This is an insurance company strategy that actually works some times. Another version of this is telling an injured worker their case is closed.
Under the third example, most likely the issue has to do with the law. It likely will change soon, but essentially when you get a settlement, your injury is assigned to a body part. If you tear your ACL your settlement is a percentage loss of the leg. If you have a broken wrist it’s a percentage loss of your hand. For any actual body part, if the insurance company settles with you and you hurt that body part again in the future, the insurance company gets a credit for the first settlement. They don’t for injuries to what’s called “man as a whole.” This used to only be for back and neck injuries, but now applies to the shoulder too. So the insurance company is waiting on the legislature to change the law.
So what’s the solution to not getting an offer?
Under the first example the only way to push them is to get the case ready for trial. That stops an insurance adjuster from ignoring the case and in the least will get a defense attorney to make a recommendation as to what the case is worth.
Under the second example, they have to hire a lawyer and formally file the case. Once they do an offer will likely happen.
Under the last example, if a case hasn’t been filed yet with a lawyer it needs to be. If that doesn’t do it then you actually have to go to trial. An Arbitrator will award damages there and that’s how you’ll get your money. You don’t have to allow the insurance company to wait until it’s in their best advantage to pay you.
Bottom line is that being aggressive solves most of these problems. If you have questions contact us any time for a free consultation.