By far the most common question we get about Illinois work comp law is, “What is my case worth?” Quite often that’s from people who are at the beginning of their case which means there’s no way to reasonably answer that. If they are close to getting done with their medical care, we can often provide a settlement range.
Some people will say something like, “I hurt my back and had two epidural injections. What is my case worth?” That’s not enough information to answer them. We need to know what other care they’ve had, what their wages were, are there any defenses to the case, is future medical care needed, did they have prior similar health problems, are they back to work and last, but not least, what is their age?
Age can be a really big factor in determining the value of a case. The younger you are, the more likely you will feel the effects of your injury for a very long time. This is especially true for back and neck injuries or cases where you have surgery. Whether it’s arthritis, on going pain or the frustration of most of your life having to deal with this problem, the younger you are, the more likely it is that the case will be worth more money.
Age is also very important when a young worker can no longer do the job that they are used to doing. Years ago I represented a man in his 20’s who had a heavy duty construction job and hurt his foot. He had permanent restrictions that prevented him from working on uneven surfaces. Because of that, his case ended up settling for over $300,000.00 due to his wage loss. Wage differential benefits are only paid until age 65, but if you’ve got 40 years of work life left then your case could have huge value even though you can still work other jobs.
And age is also important when it comes to workers who are permanently disabled from working again. All things being equal, someone who is permanently disabled at age 35 will have a much more valuable case than someone that happens to at age 55. That’s because these are lifetime benefits. Any settlement is based on your life expectancy.
Finally, age is really relevant when it comes to future medical care. A 70 year old may not recover as well so they might be more likely to need additional treatment. But given their lower life expectancy, the payment for that could still be limited. A younger person will usually bounce back quicker. But if they have a fusion or hardware in their body that needs to be replaced every ten years, that will make their case worth much more than the 70 year old.
The bottom line is that you want to consider all factors in making a settlement, including the age of the worker. If you have any questions about this or want to talk with an experienced lawyer for free, please contact us at any time.