We are experienced Illinois work comp attorneys who care about our clients. If you would like a a free consultation, call us at 888-705-1766 or fill out our contact form and we will call you

By far the most popular questions we get from injured Illinois workers have to do with settling their case.  Whether it’s wanting to know how much a case is worth or when the right time to settle is, we hear a lot of similar questions.  We thought it would be a good idea to put together a list of tips relating to settlement of work comp cases.  In no particular order, here are 40 things we think you should know:

  1. In almost every instance, once you settle a case, it’s over.  That means no more medical care or time off work at their expense.  So don’t settle until you are all better.
  2. Work comp settlements in Illinois are tax free.
  3. There is no requirement that a settlement offer be made at all, but an attorney can force the issue to make one happen.
  4. Once a settlement agreement is reached, each party has to sign pink settlement contracts and have them approved by an Arbitrator at the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission.
  5. After a settlement has been approved, you typically get paid within 30 days.
  6. If you have a work comp case that can be filed in Illinois and another state, if you settle the case in that other state, you still might be able to get a settlement in Illinois.
  7. Any attorney who tells you what your case is worth right after an accident is lying. Nobody can say what a case is worth until they see what recovery you make.
  8. If it’s anticipated you will need future medical care (e.g. you had screws put in to your wrist that might have to come out someday), you can still settle and can compensated separately for the medical bills through a Medicare Set Aside.
  9. In every case there isn’t a hard figure of what a case is worth, but instead a high end and low end of what it could be worth.
  10. If you don’t like what the insurance company is offering, but don’t want to go to trial, having a pre-trial before the Arbitrator is a great idea. That is a conference with the lawyers where they say what they think the evidence will show and the Arbitrator makes a non-binding recommendation of how they’d likely rule.
  11. The two most important factors in what a case is worth are your medical care and the recovery you make.
  12. Those aren’t the only factors though. Some others include whether or not there are any defenses by the insurance company, your wages, age, subjective complaints of pain and if a job is still available for you.
  13. The first settlement offer is almost never the best one.
  14. Before settling you should call every medical provider to make sure there are no outstanding medical bills.
  15. If you go to trial that doesn’t mean you can’t someday still settle and sometime winning a trial gives you leverage to get more money some day.
  16. If there is a settlement, your lawyer will likely ask you to sign a power of attorney form so they can endorse your name to the check.  Assuming they aren’t a crook, this is very common and is just a way for them to pay you faster.
  17. Benefits for a settlement are called permanent partial disability or PPD.
  18. 60% of your average weekly wage is called your PPD rate.
  19. Each body part is assigned a certain value and your settlement is determined by multiplying your PPD rate and the value of your loss of use of that body part.
  20. If you have a large loss of what you could make in your old job compared to what you are able to make now, you are eligible to wage differential benefits.
  21. Wage differential is payment for 2/3 of what you’d be making currently in the old job vs what you now make.
  22. Payments for a wage differential continue for five years or until you reach age 65, whichever is longer.
  23. It’s possible to have a settlement for injuries to more than one body part in the same case.
  24. If you are permanently disabled from working, you can receive payments for that for the rest of your life.  Those cases usually have the highest value.
  25. There is a cap on attorney fees in settlements which is essentially 20% of seven years of permanent disability benefits.  Basically if your case is worth in the mid six figures it’s likely this cap will kick in.
  26. Lawyer fees generally are 20% less and they get reimbursed for expenses.  So if your attorney gets you a $50,000.00 settlement and spent $300.00 on your case for getting medical records, you’d receive $39,700.00.
  27. Most work comp cases have less than $100 in expenses.  The biggest one is if they have to pay a doctor for a deposition which can cost a couple thousand.
  28. Money for expenses is your money, even when the lawyer advances the costs.  So they shouldn’t spend that money without telling you first.
  29. Ending one case doesn’t prevent you from bringing a new claim for a new accident.
  30. There is no “pain and suffering” compensation in IL work comp cases.
  31. If there is a personal injury case that goes along with your work comp case (such as a car accident on the job), work comp insurance might be entitled to a partial reimbursement of what they’ve paid you.
  32. If you have an amputation from a work injury, you should be automatically paid when you return to work and don’t have to wait until you sign a settlement contract. You might still get more in the end but there is a minimum they have to pay you by law.
  33. If someone dies from a work injury, the minimum their dependents would get if they didn’t settle is $500,000.00.  Those cases essentially get negotiated the same way a permanent disability case would.
  34. Death benefits should also include payment of medical bills and $10,000 for burial expenses.
  35. Sometimes insurance companies will try to get you to take an annuity which pays you your settlement over a period of years.  We almost never recommend that. It’s your money, you can manage it.
  36. Comparing your case  to what someone else got is not realistic.  Every case is different because your facts are different even if the injury is the same.
  37. Working for a big company like Walmart or Amazon doesn’t make your case worth more just because they are worth billions.  And your case isn’t worth less because you work for a small company.
  38. If you used vacation pay during a time when you were taken off work by your doctor for the work injury, you can get that paid time off reinstated as part of a settlement.
  39. No attorney should try to settle your case without discussing it with you first.
  40. Most important of all, the choice to settle or not is yours.  Your lawyer should make a recommendation and then you make an educated decision about what you want to do.  Don’t feel rushed or pressured.

I hope these tips help.  If you have any questions please get in touch.