One potentially hard fact about pursuing an Illinois work comp claim is that if it’s disputed, you can be left without income for a bit. That can lead to a choice of having no money coming in or working when your injury dictates that you shouldn’t.

Many insurance company denials are bogus and if you get a good attorney who is willing to take your case to trial (surprisingly not all will), you’ll likely eventually win and get paid for everything you are owed. And eventually you’ll get a settlement which can be really significant depending on how bad the injury is.

The problem is that going to trial can take time. Even if it goes fast, it will be 3-4 months most likely before a hearing actually happens and then can be 1-3 months or more before the Arbitrator makes a ruling. And that would be super fast and doesn’t even take into account a possible appeal. So when determining whether or not to go to trial, what a good Illinois work comp trial attorney should say to their client is, “I’ll take your case to trial and get it done as fast as I can, but I’m not the one who will have to go without money for all that time.”

A lot of cases simply have to go to trial. When workers are facing a financial crunch, the first thing they will ask about is getting a law suit loan. There are companies out there who will give you money now that gets paid back when you make a recovery on the case. And typically if you don’t win the case, you owe them nothing.

The problem is that a lot of these loans are predatory. In other words, you could get a loan for $5,000 and end up paying back $20-30k or more depending on how long your case lasts. The interest rates are extraordinarily high. I hate most of these companies. And I really hate lawyers who push these loans on their clients and suspect that some attorneys are getting kickbacks for doing so. Just as an attorney shouldn’t insist you treat with a certain doctor, they shouldn’t force a loan company on you.

Again, this isn’t my life, and I understand some people have to go this route. But before you do, you should ask your attorney if an advance against your settlement is possible.

What this is, is a situation where the insurance company knows they are going to owe you some money in the end, but is disputing part of your case now. Usually it’s a surgery or a dispute about whether or not a worker needs restrictions. The insurance company might want to buy time to delay a trial, schedule an IME or do something else.

So at times they’ll pay in advance part of what your eventual settlement would be. It won’t be a huge amount, but could be something like 5-10 weeks of permanency benefits which if you are a high wage earner it could be $5,000-$10,000 give or take. It’s not a loan so there’s nothing to pay back and no interest taken out of it.

Now there’s no law that requires the insurance company to do this and as you know, they don’t typically act out of the goodness of their cold, black heart. This is where having an experienced attorney who has developed relationships comes in. Either through talking to opposing counsel or if necessary the Arbitrator at pre-trial, your lawyer can take an aggressive stance that there shouldn’t be delays or agree to a delay if an advance is offered. If the total case isn’t in dispute, most Arbitrators will make a non-binding recommendation that this happen. And most defense attorneys will go along with it.

A typical example would be that the insurance company wants you to see an IME doctor, but they can’t get you in for an appointment for six weeks. So the request would be six weeks of benefits until the IME happens. Another situation would be where they need to arrange for a witness to fly in to testify so they need a trial delay. You also see this when doctor depositions are needed for trial and can’t be scheduled in a timely manner.

This is one of those situations where it doesn’t hurt to ask and doing so can be a huge benefit to you as you don’t have to pay the ridiculous interest.

I get that this topic isn’t necessarily common sense, especially if you haven’t dealt with work comp before. So if you have any questions about an advance against settlement, please reach out any time.