A reader clicked on our live chat feature and asked a very good Illinois workers’ compensation question:

I have a back injury and was released to full duty.  Do I get a settlement?

It’s a question we hear a lot. Under Illinois work comp law, pretty much every injury is worth something even if you get all better. While cases are worth more when you have permanent restrictions, getting a full duty release is not a bar to getting a settlement.

Insurance companies don’t have to make you an offer and when they do it’s usually for way less than the case is worth.  But if they are telling you that you get nothing or less because of a full duty release that is just an out and out lie.

Settlements in Illinois are for what is called permanent partial disability or PPD.  When you are as good as you can get medically speaking (maximum medical improvement is the legal term) it’s time to think about what your case is worth.  While you may be back to your old job, that does not mean the injury won’t affect you in the future.  Most accidents lead to scar tissue or arthritis or generally speaking weaken your body.

Even if you feel that you are better than before, unless you just had a bruise or small contusion your case is likely worth something.  How much it’s worth depends on how serious the injury was, the treatment you’ve had, your need for future care, what job you are able to return to, the amount of money that you make and a few other factors.

While attorney fees are 20% of what is recovered, when insurance companies make you an offer without a lawyer, they typically lop 20% off the top.  In other words, you’ll end up with more with a lawyer than without.

In 2011 the laws in Illinois changed to make something called an AMA rating (American Medical Association).  It’s basically a bogus guidebook that tries to state what impairment you have when hurt.  If you have a full duty release your AMA rating is often 0% or otherwise very low.  That’s not how settlements work in Illinois work comp so don’t listen to the insurance company if they try to scare you with that.

If you have any questions about a settlement or anything else related to work comp and want to talk to an attorney for free, call us at 312-346-5578, fill out our contact form or click the live chat button.  We cover all of Illinois.