I had a consultation with an injured Chicago worker recently. She was direct and to the point which I loved because that’s how I am. Here’s the first thing she said to me:

I want to close my case. I’m sick of this and want it to be over.

As you can tell, she was very frustrated. Her case had been going on for almost three years. She’s had two surgeries, been off work for more than 24 months, and is getting badly jerked around by the insurance companies. There’s no dispute that she got hurt at work, but they’ve delayed her TTD checks and haven’t authorized or paid for some of her medical care.

What I told her is what every injured Illinois worker needs to know. It’s the goal of these insurance companies to frustrate you. They want to limit what they have to pay out in a case. If their maximum cost on a case appears to be $500,000 and they can get away with only paying out half of that, they saved a ton of money. This is how they are so profitable. It’s not from doing the right thing.

She is clearly worn down, and it’s a really understandable feeling. In her case though, she needs another surgery which would put her out of work for another six months at least and will determine if she could ever return to work again. If she were to settle now it would be a terrible idea for a lot of reasons including:

  1. If she doesn’t have the needed surgery, she will be in terrible pain for the rest of her life. No other insurance company is going to pay for it and if they mistakenly did, they could go after her for mistakenly paying for care they weren’t responsible for. This is just a reflection of the terrible healthcare system in this country.
  2. If she took a settlement now it would be for far less than what her case is worth or could be worth. The insurance company wants to settle to close out the case so the potentially very expensive surgery doesn’t have to be paid for, not to mention what could be millions in future medical care. And the permanency settlement which is the real dollars into her pocket would potentially be worth hundreds of thousands more at a later date.
  3. By settling she would lose her rights to weekly benefits for her time off work. In many cases, after a year or two that’s worth more than the money the insurance company will put into your pocket right now.

For almost any injured worker, wanting to settle isn’t enough. A good attorney will tell you when to settle and when not to. This is what we look for:

  1. Are you done with your medical care? If not, don’t settle.
  2. If you are done with medical care now, is it anticipated that sometime in the future you will need more medical care such as surgery to remove hardware that was put into your body? If yes, you can settle, but before you do, you have to address that issue and get compensated for it.
  3. Are you back to work? If not, is it because of your injury? If so, don’t settle. If you do, you will surely leave a lot more money on the table by settling now if you haven’t gone through vocational rehabilitation or been declared permanently disabled by a doctor.
  4. If you are back to work, how long has that been for? For bigger injuries, an experienced Illinois work comp attorney would likely tell you to make sure you feel good for 60-90 days or more before settling. The last thing you want to do is settle and then realize the job is too much for you.

I do really get how frustrating all of this can be. A bad lawyer would try to put money in their pocket by settling when you want to. A good and honest one would tell you why settling now is a bad idea and then help you make an educated decision.

If you have any questions about any of this, please contact us any time for free and in confidence at 888-705-1766.