Here’s an unusual occurrence. Insurance companies that handle Illinois workers’ compensation claims are doing something that makes some cases worth more money. That’s right, they are putting more money in your pocket.
In the last few years a trend has developed. Office space, especially in Chicago, is really expensive. Since most claims are handled electronically, insurance companies are downsizing their office space and asking adjusters who handle the cases to work from home. While they can still come in to the office for meetings or whenever needed, for the most part they are in their home office.
This strategy saves insurance companies millions of dollars a year. It also costs them money too.
What we are seeing and also hearing from other lawyers is that many of these adjusters don’t want to come in to the City at all. Some are now even living hours away from their home office. I had one defense attorney tell me that he can’t get his insurance adjuster clients to come downtown for educational seminars or file reviews.
So what happens is that some adjusters aren’t as up to date on law changes as they should be. Others want to avoid the City so badly, especially in winter, that instead of meeting with their lawyers they will just give in on a case.
In most cases an adjuster has autonomy to make decisions on what is paid or not paid up to a certain dollar amount. It varies by company, but it’s not unusual for one of them to be able to spend up to $100,000 on a claim without having to meet or talk much about it.
So you can imagine a contested case where your lawyer wants $50,000 to settle and their attorney is telling them to only offer $30,000 max. If the adjuster has $42,000 left on her budget, she might just approve that amount instead of having to come in and talk about it. It sounds crazy, but things like this do happen. The end result is almost always more money in your pocket. It’s not to say that they won’t fight cases, but they do become lazier when they can work in their pajamas or “work” while watching TV, grocery shopping, picking the kids up from school, etc.
There is a downside to this telecommuting. If you’ve wondered why you can’t get a phone call returned it’s probable that it’s because they are spending less time at a work desk. It’s the reality of work from home jobs, especially with lower level, lower paid staffers.
This is not something most attorneys would think of, but it’s the reality of handling work comp cases in this day and age. Heck, if you have a case that might go to trial and the insurance adjuster is a witness, I’d want to know how far their commute to court will be and potentially use that to your advantage. Rather than take the train on a cold, snowy day, they might be inclined to make their best offer the day or week before.
I hate the term “thinking out of the box” but this is the type of thought process an Illinois work comp attorney needs to have.
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