By far the most common questions about Illinois work comp law that we get have to do with what a case is worth.  Here’s an interesting one we received recently that really needs an explanation:

I just need to know if a 2 surgery settlement is more than a 1 surgery settlement. I’m getting 2 different answers from work comp.

Generally speaking, we find that the more medical care you have, the more your case is worth. The more treatment you need is an indication as to how serious the injury is. If you strain your back and have two weeks of physical therapy, your case is probably worth less than someone who has a back strain, but needs eight weeks of physical therapy before they feel better.

The dollar difference with that example wouldn’t be much. But if you have multiple back surgeries, it’s probable that your case is worth more than it would be if you only had one surgery. How much the difference is depends on a lot of things. Note it will never be worth enough to have an additional surgery just because you think it will put more dollars in your pocket in the end. We always recommend you make educated decisions after talking to your doctor.

All that said, having more surgeries doesn’t necessarily mean your case is worth more. Under Illinois work comp law, you can’t be made to have a surgery if you don’t want it. So we’ve seen cases where someone has a back surgery and is left with pain and permanent lifting restrictions. There doctor says an additional surgery could make them better and able to work without restrictions. In most cases if you have restrictions, the case will be worth more than it would be if you have no restrictions. And if your job can’t accommodate those restrictions, your case could be worth significantly more even though you had less treatment.

The bottom line is that every case is different. Don’t make medical decisions because you think it will get you a larger settlement. We’ve seen that strategy blow up for so many people. The end result of what a case is worth has so many factors. Medical treatment you’ve received is just one factor. Your age, wages, the job you return to, your job history, need for future medical care, etc. all are a factor too. So do what is best for your health without consideration to any settlement you will get.

And as always, if you have any questions you can contact us any time.