We recently talked to a nice worker who fell at work, broke a bone and is going to have surgery. He fell so quickly that the first thing he told me was that he didn’t know why he fell. Unfortunately he told the insurance adjuster the same thing and did so in a recorded statement.
Under Illinois work comp law, you do not have to give a recorded statement and you should not give one. Even if you have nothing to hide, they aren’t looking for the truth, but instead are looking for ways to decline your case. That’s what happened here. If your fall is unexplained, you lose.
Insurance adjusters don’t look further once they have a defense. If they did then this worker would have explained that it felt like his shoe got caught on the floor. He also would have revealed that three co-workers told him that they too had fell because their shoes got caught. They fortunately did not get hurt, but they did create a reasonable explanation as to why this guy did. There is a defect in the floor and as a result he should win his case.
This is no slam dunk win because some Arbitrators will feel like he changed his story when he gives his explanation at trial. Others will understand that he wasn’t asked the right questions and wasn’t given a chance to tell the whole story when he gave a recorded statement. Either way, it’s a problem that could have been solved if he politely declined which was his right.
I don’t blame him for not knowing his rights. Insurance companies don’t tell you that you don’t have to let them record a statement. They make you feel like you don’t have a choice if you want benefits. It’s just not true.
On another note, this is probably a case where if we got more than 50% settlement value as an offer before trial, we’d recommend to the client that they take that offer. There is certainly a chance that they could get nothing at arbitration due to the recorded statement. Getting anything would be the result of a lot of hard work including lining up all of those witnesses and potentially trying to get the recorded statement thrown out since the worker was heavily medicated. This is why I hate lawyers who talk about win/loss records. Getting above half of full value in a case like this is probably more of a win that getting a nice result in a case where nothing is disputed.
As always, if you have questions about any of your rights you are welcome to call us for free at 312-346-5578. We cover all of Illinois.