A caller to my office was incredibly frustrated with his case. Here’s what he had to say. Note that he’s not a client of ours.
I was hurt six years ago and my work comp case isn’t settled. Is it because I work in Chicago? None of it makes sense to me.
We talked to him further and it turns out that he had a major injury that required multiple surgeries and almost three years missed from work. He’s back to a new job within the company, but just stopped treating with his doctor a little more than six months before he called me. So while his case could be settled by now, it’s not insane that it isn’t. It’s possible that his lawyer is lazy, but it’s also possible that they are working out some Medicare issues and making sure he can tolerate work. It’s also possible that the settlement demand is so large that it’s taking longer to resolve because multiple people have to approve it.
In the big picture for you though, remember that every case is different. If it’s been six years and your case hasn’t settled that would be unusual. Here is an incomplete list of why some cases take so long to settle:
- You have a major injury and haven’t finished your treatment. That means the case isn’t ready to settle.
- The case is disputed and needs to go to trial so depositions of the doctors need to be taken. Only when it’s ready for trial will the insurance company make their best offer.
- The insurance company went bankrupt and now the case is being handled by the Illinois Insurance Guarantee Fund. When that happens it will often add years to a case.
- You hired a terrible attorney. When I first started practicing law 25 years ago, one lawyer who boasted of having gone to Harvard seemed to never settle his cases. It makes no sense as the lawyer doesn’t get paid until the client does and his cases were ready to settle. But some attorneys are just lazy or incompetent or overwhelmed and do a bad job.
- The insurance company won’t offer a fair amount. There is no requirement that they give you a settlement offer and sometimes they won’t for strategic reasons. In that case you have to go to trial. Some lawyers don’t see what is really happening and you end up waiting around.
- Issues such as a Medicare set aside need to be worked out still.
- You haven’t found a job within your restrictions yet. If you settled now it would potentially be for much less than you could get.
- You had a second work related injury and even though the first one is healed, the insurance company wants to wait and settle them both at the same time.
- The insurance adjuster who was handling your case left the company and whoever took over their files is behind.
Whatever the reason, if your case is truly ready to settle and you either haven’t gotten a settlement offer or don’t like the one you got, there is only one solution. Your lawyer has to get the case ready for trial. That means taking doctor depositions, securing your medical records and bills by subpoena and arranging for witnesses if any are needed. After that it’s just a simple trial motion and you should have your day in court. Being ready for trial will force their best offer if there is going to be one and if there’s no offer, a trial victory is the only way to get paid.
Sadly, some work comp attorneys in Illinois are settlement only and don’t go to trial very often if at all. If that’s what you have, you have the wrong lawyer. If there isn’t a significant settlement offer already, you can likely get a new, better firm. If you’d like to discuss your case, you can contact us for free and in confidence any time at 312-346-5578. We have a state wide network of attorneys so we help everywhere in Illinois.