A caller to my office said that she was injured at work and the insurance company was paying all of her medical bills and lost time payments. She said the adjuster was very nice. However, all of her friends were telling her that even though her case was accepted, she should hire an attorney. She wanted to know if that was true.
First off, there is no Illinois workers’ compensation law that requires you to have a lawyer. It’s just the safest play. Even if your case is accepted now and nothing is going wrong, if things do go bad, and you can bet the insurance company wants to cut off your benefits, having a case already on file allows you to get in to court quicker to get justice.
Even if things are going well today, they may not tomorrow or the next day so you need to put yourself in a position now to benefit later. Going it alone is not the smart way to accomplish the outcome you want.
While you may think it’s going well, it might not be. Your bills might be getting paid, but if a nurse case manager is going to your appointments and talking to your doctor (that’s against the law) it’s not going as well as you think. If they are delaying MRI’s, limiting the amount of therapy you get or not approving a surgery, it’s not going well. If you are only treating with their doctor, it’s not going well. If they haven’t included overtime in your TTD rate or your check is much lower than what you are used to taking home, it’s not going well.
If you gave a recorded statement, it’s not going as well as it could. If you are an older worker and the adjuster is asking your future plans it’s not going well. We had one older client who got an offer to settle their case that was about half of what the case was worth. We discovered that he had told the adjuster he was planning on retiring in six months to collect a pension so that killed his chance at a wage differential claim. That error in what seemed like a casual conversation with a “friendly” adjuster cost him over $50,000.00.
Everything you do in the case on your own puts you in a position for what happens later on in the case. When you make errors in judgment like telling the adjuster you are going to retire, it affects your case greatly.
When it comes to settlement, the insurance company doesn’t by law have to offer anything. The insurance company has a budget in mind on what your case will cost them and the adjuster is going to get a bonus, raise or promotion at the end of the year based on a number of things, including how much under budget they were able to resolve cases she/he is handling, and that if “you” the claimant is going it alone rest assured they will see this claim as one where they will be saving money. It is an uneven playing field and will remain and perhaps become more uneven and the only way to level or to, ideally give yourself an advantage is to hire a lawyer. When you do so the adjuster budget goes out the window because we make sure you get what you are entitled to. Even after our 20% fee you will end up with more.
So you don’t have to hire an attorney and we understand why some people don’t want to. But the bottom line is that it’s the safest play for you.
If you have questions about anything related to Illinois work injury law, please contact us any time for a free consultation.