We are experienced Illinois work comp attorneys who will talk to you for free and in confidence. Please call us any time at 312-346-5578.
The most common questions we get from injured Illinois workers have to do with settlements. While we encourage everyone to focus on their health at first, we also will answer any settlement question we can. Here’s a good one we recently got from an Illinois truck driver.
I’m on work comp currently and just underwent a spinal fusion. I’m trying to understand if I’ll get a settlement at the end of all this if I am able to return to my current job?
The answer is that there’s no law that requires a settlement offer to be made, but it does happen in most cases because insurance companies want to close out a case for good. There’s so much more to think about and know. Here’s a partial list:
1. Whether or not you return to work doesn’t change your right to a settlement, it just changes the value.
2. If you want to get the best settlement possible, you need to make sure the insurance company doesn’t do things to mess up your case. For example, they might have a nurse case manager talking to your doctor. That’s illegal, but it happens all the time. They might do surveillance. They might send you to a hired gun IME. If your injury is this serious, you’d be crazy not to at least consult with an attorney and learn how they can protect you.
3. While settlements can at times include money for future medical care, it’s often not a fair amount. With a lumbar fusion, this worker will definitely need more medical care for his back as he gets older. He can protect himself against this by going to arbitration. Assuming he has a strong case, he’ll win the arbitration and in doing so he will keep his medical rights open for life as relates to his work injury. He’ll also get awarded an amount by the arbitrator that is similar to what a settlement would be. It can be the best of both worlds and the safest play.
4. You’ll almost never get more without a lawyer than with one even after the lawyer’s 20% fee.
5. The value of your case is going to depend on many things including your ultimate recovery. If you can’t return to your normal job, have a wage loss in the job you can’t work or can’t work at all, that will greatly affect the case strategy and it’s value.
6. Other things that affect settlement value in Illinois work comp cases are your wages, age, do you have any medical restrictions, prior medical problems, future medical needs and possible defenses to your case.
The bottom line is that almost every case is worth something, but that’s the wrong way to think about it. The right way is to focus on your health and make sure insurance company games or strategies don’t cause your case to be worth much less than it is.