By far the number one question we get from injured Illinois workers has to do with what their case is worth. We get this question in a lot of different ways including from people who want to something like how long will it take until work comp makes me a settlement offer?
The answer depends on the case. There’s a lot to know.
First off, settlement offers don’t typically come until an injured worker is at MMI. That stands for maximum medical improvement. In plain English that means you are as good as you are going to get medically and essentially done with your medical care. Asking for a settlement before then is a bad idea because you don’t know what your ultimate recovery will be. So you shouldn’t seek a settlement before this happens and if they offer you one before then it’s shady.
That brings up point number two. Some insurance companies will offer settlements before you are at MMI, including shortly after your accident. While this is more common in car accident cases, their goal is to get you to take what seems like a good amount (say 5-10k or so) when they know that if you get the medical care you need it will ultimately cost them a lot more. I promise you that any time you get a quick settlement offer it’s in their best interest, not yours.
The third thing to know is that there doesn’t have to be a settlement offer at all. In many cases the insurance company will ghost you, tell you they are looking into it or even lie and say the case is closed. The goal is to make you wait so long that you blow the statute of limitations for having a case officially filed with the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission. This is a strategy they take much like all of their other strategies in which they are trying to save money by taking away your rights. Enough people fall for it that they do it a lot.
You can’t make them give you a settlement offer, but can force their hand. If you have a case officially filed, you can request a trial date. That would send you to an arbitration with them and the arbitrator would make a binding ruling as to how much a case is worth. The insurance company typically doesn’t want to pay for an attorney if they don’t have to so they’ll typically make an offer when you are represented by a lawyer because they know they’ll have to pay eventually.
The final thing to know is that in some cases you don’t want to settle, but can still get paid. If you are worried about future medical care and who will pay for it, if you go to arbitration you will keep your medical rights open for this injury for life. So if you had hardware put in your body, such as a fusion, that may need to come out some day, you may want to know that it won’t cost you anything in the future. By going to arbitration you’ll still get paid the equivalent of a settlement and protect yourself if you need to see the doctor later on for this injury.
So as you can see, there’s a lot to think about and every case is different. If you want to discuss how to get the most money on your case, call us for free any time at 312-346-5578.