Hundreds of millions of Americans have gotten Covid since February of 2020. The perception of a lot of people out there is that while sadly it has killed around a million people, most people get sick and then better after a couple of days or weeks or have no symptoms at all. The reality is that millions of people are dealing with long-haul Covid symptoms.
Long haul Covid symptoms can alter your life. These problems include:
- Lost of taste or smell
- Shortness of breath
- Continuous fevers
- Joint and muscle pain
- Brain fog
For some people, these symptoms last for months and begin to fade away. For others, they haven’t gone away and doctors aren’t sure if they ever will.
While Covid is everywhere, if you worked in a setting where it’s more likely than not that you got infected from your job, you might be able to bring a workers’ compensation claim. We are seeing a lot of nurses, hospital workers, factory workers, and others who are having trouble recovering. A recent caller to my office has been off work since September with long-haul symptoms that have changed her from a happy-go-lucky person to someone who has trouble getting out of bed. She used to run marathons and now gets fatigued while grocery shopping. She is having trouble remembering things and is suffering from depression.
She wanted to know if she could have a workers’ compensation case and while she didn’t ask what that is worth, we’ve been asked that many times by others. Like all Illinois work accidents, the value depends on the case facts.
In this instance, there is no way to know what the case will be worth. Currently, the focus should be on getting her paid for her time off of work and making sure that she gets the medical care that she needs at no cost to her. She was around Covid patients all day on the job, so a very credible argument can be made that she is entitled to work comp benefits. And since she’s been off since September, she should be retroactively paid for her time off work. So while we don’t know what the case is worth right now, it does appear that she’s owed tens of thousands of dollars right now along with ongoing payments going forward.
Ultimately the value of this case or any other depends on what recovery is made and can she get back to work? Nobody knows if there will be a treatment that can make long-haul symptoms go away or if this is how life is going to be forever. But eventually, a doctor will state if it’s likely she will ever recover or not, and brain scans and other tests can determine if she has permanent organ damage.
When you can’t perform any work, you are considered to be permanently and totally disabled. You can continue to receive weekly benefits for life or pursue a settlement that would be a larger lump sum, but end the weekly benefits. How much you’d get would depend on what your wages are and what your life expectancy is along with your need for future medical care. So a 35-year-old who can never work again would likely get more than a 50-year-old who made a similar amount. While I can’t give exact dollar figures to you, it’s usually somewhere in six figures.
You also would likely be entitled to a significant sum for future medical care which also could be in the six figures. If they don’t want to provide that to you, you may be better off not settling your case and keeping your medical rights open.
There are two important things to know about the value of these cases.
1. Insurance companies don’t just give money away. Some will try to get you to settle before you should in order to save money on your weekly benefits and medical needs. Others will come up with bogus defenses. I can promise you that you’ll almost always get more money with an attorney than without. It would be a terrible idea to not have representation when you have a significant injury. Beyond the money, a lawyer increases your chances of the best medical care.
2. If you can’t return to work for at least a year, you are eligible for social security disability benefits. Those payments get reduced in part by your workers compensation checks. When settling the case, it’s very important that your lawyer use what is known as spread language. Basically, even though you will get a one-time, big lump sum payment, the contract will be written in a way so your social security doesn’t get eliminated or reduced more than it should.
We have helped hundreds of injured Illinois workers suffering from Covid related problems. If you’d like to speak to an attorney for free about this, please contact us any time at 312-346-5578. Our team of attorneys helps everywhere in Illinois.