Most Illinois workers’ compensation cases don’t go to trial. They usually settle well before that is a possibility and in some cases they settle right before the case is going to go to hearing.
While this is usual for 90%+ of cases, some do go to arbitration. That happens because there is a real disagreement as to whether or not a case is compensable or because the insurance company is not making a good offer. If your case is worth $100,000.00 but they only offer you $60,000.00, trial is probably the better option. If the insurance company won’t pay your unpaid medical bills, you might want to go to a hearing if your case facts are strong.
Of course if you do go to trial, you want to have a belief you will win. No Illinois work comp attorney I know would go to trial when they think the facts are bad. If your testimony is going to be that you were drunk when you fell down and hit your head, no lawyer I know would even sign that case up, never mind take it to a hearing.
The cases we do take to trial are when we believe in the injured workers. That doesn’t mean you will win, but it does mean your attorney has faith in you.
There are a lot of factors that go in to winning a case, but when you get before an Arbitrator, the number one factor for you winning is credibility. You have to be believable. The doctor that testifies on your behalf has to be persuasive. If not, you will likely lose.
Credible means convincing. That doesn’t mean you try to say what you think a Judge wants to hear or embellish. It’s important that you always tell the truth. The Judges are not dumb and almost all of them have presided over hundreds of hearings. They can usually determine who is being truthful and who is trying to b.s. them.
Credibility is also shown by the amount and type of information you give. If you are trying to claim a repetitive trauma injury at work is why you hurt your elbow, you could say, “I do the same thing every day.” That, however, does not paint a picture. It’s better to give a detailed description of how long you’ve been doing the job, what your activities involve, the amount of force you use, what you notice while doing those activities, etc.
A lot of your credibility comes down to how you come off, but a lot of it has to do with how well your attorney prepares you for trial and the types of questions they ask and detail they get out. There is no way to know for sure if they will do a good job until the hearing happens. That said, one predictor is how well they seem to know the facts of your case when you talk to them on the phone. If you are having to repeat details or six months in they are saying something like, “remind me how you were hurt again” then you probably don’t have the best attorney possible. Good work comp lawyers will document their communication with you electronically. They won’t have to try and remember two years later when the case goes to trial what you actually said to them.
Another red flag is the lawyer who has too many cases. If you can never get them on the phone or get them to reply to an email, they might be over-extended. If all of your talk is with a paralegal or secretary, it makes me wonder how the lawyer will really know your case when it goes to hearing.
Bottom line is that nothing can guarantee a win, but there is a lot that can be done to increase the chances of winning.
As always, if you have any questions you can call our lawyers for free at 312-346-5578.