A reader of my blog was getting toward the end of his treatment. The insurance company tried to low ball settle with him and he refused. Then the insurance company told him, because he has permanent restrictions that can’t be accommodated by his old employer, that they wanted him to do vocational rehabilitation.
Briefly, under Illinois work comp law, vocational rehabilitation involves hiring a voc counselor who helps figure out what jobs you are qualified for based on your age, experience and injury, helps you conduct a job search and/or recommends training to get you in a position to start a new career. The path taken varies on a case to case basis.
In this case, the insurance company had recommended a vocational counselor to the injured worker, which brings us to the most important thing about vocational rehabilitation if you are hurt on the job in Illinois:
Just like you get to pick your own doctor, you get to pick your own voc counselor too. That doesn’t mean the insurance company can’t suggest someone, or ask you to meet with someone they’ve chosen, but it does mean that you need to look out for you, and make sure that the counselor you decide to work with isn’t some insurance company hired gun.
The only reason an insurance company would suggest or insist on a voc counselor for you is to try and save themselves some money. Because if you used to make $40 an hour, and now, due to your injury, your rehab person says you can only make minimum wage, that makes your case worth somewhere in the six figures. On the other hand, if they get someone to testify that you can get a job making close to what your old wage is (when that’s not true), it will cut the value of your case in half or more.
For many workers it’s not obvious that they have this right and it’s even harder to know who to choose as there are not hundreds of choices like there are for doctors and the truth is that most of these people favor the insurance company so finding someone independent can be a challenge. This is, of course, where a good attorney comes in. If your lawyer doesn’t have experience in this type of situation it could really cost you.
And like in any case, if you have questions or need help, please do not hesitate to get in touch with us at any time.