A caller to my office hurt her knee while working. It seems like a very compensable case, but she’s not been paid her TTD benefits for three months even though the insurance company is paying her medical bills.
She’s owed that money but isn’t getting it because insurance companies play games. She had been thinking about getting an attorney to help her out, but had delayed doing this because her husband said if she does then the lawyers are going to just get all of the money.
Some things in Illinois work comp law are misunderstood, but this one is just flat-out wrong. No, a lawyer isn’t going to take all of your money, not in a work comp case at least. Our fees can never exceed 20% of what is recovered by you and in most cases, our expenses are less than $250.
People think this because of a perception created from TV, the movies, or bad experiences that they have had with lawyers in other types of cases. Maybe you had a divorce that cost a ton of money or were in a car accident where the attorney and the hospital got most of the money. This doesn’t happen in Illinois work comp cases.
The reason it doesn’t happen is because when you are injured on the job in Illinois, attorney fees are capped at 20% of what is recovered by you. That almost always means 20% of a settlement. In other words, at the end of your case, if we negotiate a $50,000 settlement for you, our fee is $10,000 and you get $40,000. We literally can’t take more than 20% by law. If a work comp lawyer did that they would lose their law license.
Even before the settlement, your lawyer typically doesn’t get a penny unless they have to put in substantial effort to do something like get your owed TTD benefits. And even then, the fee is limited to 20%.
Beyond all of this, if you have a really big injury, attorney fees eventually get capped. So for large accidents, the fee ends up being much less than 20% in the end. And of course, you get the most money in your pocket with an attorney who knows what they are doing.
So while I’m not saying that there aren’t some areas of Illinois law where attorneys rip people off or aren’t worth it, I promise you that work comp isn’t one of them.
If you have any questions or need clarifications, please call us any time at 312-346-5578.