The number one question any Illinois workers’ compensation lawyer gets is, “What is my case worth?” Recently I had a caller who wanted to know what his back injury was worth. He had a lot of opinions on what it should be worth based on what a friend had gotten on a case a couple of years ago. So I thought it would make a good blog post.
The short answer to this question is always “it depends.” The longer answer has to do with a lot of things. The biggest ones are as follows:
What is your actual injury? It’s one thing to state that your back is in a lot of pain. It’s another to prove it. MRI’s are the gold standard in proving a back injury. They can show the difference between a strain, a bulging disc and a disc herniation.
What physical problems do you have? With the worst back injuries there is a shooting pain down your leg, difficulty standing, constant aching, numbness, trouble walking, trouble lifting, etc.
What medical treatment have you had? Most back strains will recover with a few weeks of physical therapy, rest and some pain relievers. More serious injuries require an epidural steroid injection. The worst cases require surgery, but even with that, a laminectomy or discectomy is not as serious as a fusion.
Are you able to return to your old job? If so, do you have any physical restrictions. If you can’t, what type of work are you able to do and are you making as much or close to the old job? A laborer who has a high school degree, is 55 years old, has a five pound lifting restriction and used to make $40.00 an hour will have a difficult time earning that much.
How much money were you paid per week prior to your injury? The higher your average weekly wage, the more a case will be worth.
Work comp settlements in Illinois are based on what your wages were, the extent of your injury and your current condition. So there’s no way to say without a review of your medical records and talking to you exactly what your case should be worth. In general though, the more you make, the worse your injury and recovery and the more severe your treatment, the more the case will be worth in the end.
Beware shady Illinois work injury lawyers who try to tell you up soon after you got hurt what the case will be worth. They couldn’t possibly know because they don’t know what your ultimate recovery will be. If you make $1,000.00 a week and have a back strain, your injury could be worth approximately $3,000-$7,500. If you end up with a MRI that shows a herniation and eventually lose your job because you can’t do the work anymore, your case could hypothetically be worth $400,000-$600,000. It could also be worth much less than that if the facts aren’t in your corner or you don’t have an attorney who knows what they are doing.
Bottom line is that these are some of the factors that we think about when evaluating what a case is worth. If you want to discuss your case, you can contact us for free any time.