When Your Illinois Work Comp Attorney Sucks

I had a very interesting call with an injured worker recently that was going through a unique situation. Her case was set for trial and as she was preparing for trial she felt her attorney was a bit off. So she looked him up and discovered that he’s not licensed to practice law. I can’t tell you enough how hugely surprising this is as it’s a potential felony and this person works at a well known firm.

So what it seems like is that this former attorney is working and just hasn’t told anyone that he lost his license.

While this is an extreme example, it’s not the first time we’ve seen an attorney doing a really bad job and it won’t be the last. Usually it comes down to lying, not being prepared, not knowing the case or the law or something awful like not showing up for court.

What I encouraged the caller to my office to do, since her case was older, is report her attorney to both the ARDC (the State lawyer licensing board) and to the boss of her lawyer. My guess is that the boss has no idea this guy lost his license. He’d likely be horrified to find out that it’s happening and that this attorney is putting his firm at risk including potentially exposing them to a legal malpractice lawsuit for mishandling of cases (that doesn’t appear to have happened in this case fortunately).

While this caller would have trouble finding a new attorney due to the age of the case, if you’ve been more recently injured and/or don’t have a settlement offer, the other thing to do is get a new lawyer. It costs nothing to you to switch firms. Quite often when your work comp attorney sucks they are either the head guy and burned out/bad at what they do or someone younger who is at a firm that accepts that type of terrible work performance. This caller is unique in that I think there’s a chance to get a better attorney at the firm to take over. Hopefully that actually happens.

What you can’t do is sit back and ignore nonsense, assume it’s acceptable or hope it goes away. You don’t have to be a jerk, but it’s perfectly acceptable to make a call to the head partner or your handling attorney and express your concerns. You are the customer and they should deliver customer service to you.

That doesn’t mean they do everything you want or are on call 24/7. It does mean that they advocate for you and that something shady, like practicing law without a license, shouldn’t happen.

And finally, a warning story about switching before it’s too late. One case we almost got involved in, but didn’t involved a downstate lawyer who the client felt wasn’t doing a job, but she “didn’t want to be a pain or a bother.” Long story short is that he settled her case and ran off with over $60,000 owed to her. This is another extreme example and hopefully she will get it back through a lawsuit against his partner. But in my experience, bad lawyers don’t suddenly turn it around. If you see red flags and ignore them, ultimately the bad result is on you in some ways.

FedEx Work Comp Cases In Illinois

Federal Express, or FedEx as it is known to almost everyone, employs a lot of people. Over 540,000 people work for FedEx. Many thousands of those work right here in Illinois.

The shipping company is known for its air delivery service, FedEx Express, which gets packages to their destination overnight. FedEx also has FedEx Ground (think delivery trucks), FedEx Office (originally Kinko’s), and other services. Its main competitor is UPS.

There are a variety of positions at FedEx that are critical to its daily operations. Pilots fly cargo planes across the country and delivery drivers drop off packages at the homes and offices in every US city and town. Mechanics and maintenance technicians ensure that the fleet of airplanes and trucks are in working order. There are store managers and clerks at the FedEx Office locations that help customers with printing, copying, packing and shipping tasks. Freight handlers sort packages and load planes and vehicles.

Due to the sheer number of FedEx employees, as well as the number of very active and movement-based jobs at the company, we frequently get contacted by FedEx workers who have been hurt at work. We see a wide variety of injuries, some of which are caused by:

  1. Repetitive motion, performing the same movements over and over, day after day, week after week. Carpal tunnel and epicondylitis are common as well as shoulder and back injuries from overuse.
  2. Vehicle accidents. Drivers are on the roads for several hours every day. Collisions with their trucks happen. In addition, drivers cross the road to make deliveries and unfortunately have been hit by cyclists, by people on scooters, and of course by cars or trucks.
  3. Lifting heavy packages. Lifting is part of the job for many FedEx employees. Back, neck, shoulder, and leg injuries are common. Drivers also get in and out of a high driver’s seat many times a day, leading to injuries.
  4. Warehouse accidents. Many FedEx employees are around machinery, both moving and stationary, such as forklifts and conveyor belts. Whether it is a user error or a malfunctioning machine, we have seen broken bones and major injuries result. We probably get 20 calls a year from just employees who have had their feet/leg run over by a forklift.

This is not a complete list, of course. But if you are a FedEx employee who has been injured on the job, we can help you. We have a state wide network of reputable attorneys that have successfully brought many workers compensation claims against FedEx.

FedEx is a huge company with a lot of resources, but the right attorney can help make sure that you receive the workers compensation benefits that you deserve. We aren’t afraid of “taking on” FedEx, and you don’t have to pay anything upfront.

If you would like a free consultation with an attorney who has had success against Federal Express, contact us any time at 312-346-5578. We help everywhere in Illinois.

Chipotle Workers Comp Lawyers In Illinois

Fast food in the United States sure has changed since I was a kid. McDonald’s, Wendy’s, Burger King, Taco Bell and KFC were the main options. Now we have a few healthier options to choose from including Subway, Panera, and Chipotle.

Chipotle (which is completely company owned, meaning no franchises) likes to advertise that their food is made fresh. They pride themselves on the fact that there are no freezers in their restaurants. When you get to the front of the line at a Chipotle, you usually see an employee or two at the grills cooking up the meat.

This method of fast food may be great for the customer at Chipotle, but there are some challenges for employees of the restaurant chain.

First, employees are asked to regularly lift and carry bags weighing up to 50 pounds (per the workers we have helped in the past). This is a lot of weight to lift for people who don’t weigh much or aren’t very strong. Even the strongest employees might develop an injury after lifting 50 pound bags many times a shift, over the course of several months or years.

Whether it is an acute back injury from a single lift, or a shoulder injury from repetitive lifting, injured Chipotle employees should file a workers compensation claim and seek the benefits they deserve.

Another potential cause of work injuries at Chipotle are burns from the grill. Standing over a hot grill and cooking for hours at a time can lead to burns, even when employees are doing their best to be alert and safe. There is not a huge amount of room between the grill and the food line, so cooks get bumped from time to time. That can lead to burn injuries.

Speaking of the food line, workers scooping the food and preparing the burritos and bowls are doing the same motions over and over again, which can lead to repetitive injures. Think of the number of scooping motions needed for 1 burrito or bowl, then think about the lunch and dinner rush plus all of the Door Dash orders they complete, each and every day.

There are over 3,300 Chipotle locations in the United States, and about 165 of them can be found in Illinois. If you are a Chipotle worker who was injured on the job, you are likely entitled to workers compensation benefits to cover your medical expenses and time off of work. And you would be entitled to a settlement when you are all better.

If you would like a free consultation about a possible case and how we can help and protect you, contact us an time at 312-346-5578. We help injured workers everywhere in Illinois.

Don’t Create A Defense For The Insurance Company

I have the pleasure of talking to so many people every month. There are so many great questions that we get. One of them is a variation on, “What is the best thing I can do if I’m hurt while working?”

The number one thing you can do if you are hurt at work and want to bring a work comp case is to get medical treatment as soon as possible. So many workers try to “tough it out” and avoid going to the doctor. I get it, I don’t like going to the doctor either. So instead, they take a lot of Advil and do the best they can until the pain becomes unbearable.

Sometimes this plan works, but far too often it doesn’t. What ends up happening in a month or more after they are hurt, they go to the doctor for the first time.

This doesn’t prevent them from having a work comp case, but they could be screwing themselves. It has the potential to create a defense for the insurance company or in the very least cause them to say they are investigating your case in order to delay or deny your work comp benefits.

The longer you wait to go to the doctor, the easier it is for the insurance company to argue that if you were really hurt you would have gone to get medical help and since you didn’t it must be due to something else.

There are other ways you can screw yourself and create a defense for them. Ignoring doctors instructions is another big one. If you get told not to lift anything above 5 pounds and then get caught bowling, your case is likely dead or at least very limited. If the doctor tells you to go to physical therapy and you blow it off, that also creates a defense.

You can’t be made to have surgery and always have the right to a second opinion, but otherwise you can’t ignore what your doctor tells you to do and hope to win benefits.

Generally speaking, lying is the other big way people hurt themselves in Illinois workers compensation cases. That can mean embellishing injuries or lying about how an accident happened. Cameras are everywhere these days so if you say you got hurt one way and video shows it was another way, winning a case will be very difficult.

If you have any questions about a case or want to speak with an attorney, call us any time at 888-705-1766.

Illinois Workers Compensation and Social Security Disability

If you have been seriously injured at work, it is important to understand the difference between workers compensation and social security disability benefits. Most workers don’t end up applying for social security, but if you do, not knowing the rules could cost you thousands of dollars.

Workers compensation is a program to provide benefits to workers if they suffered a work-related illness or injury. Companies are required to have workers compensation insurance, so that an employee can file a workers compensation claim and receive a settlement to cover their medical expenses and lost wages. This settlement can be paid in monthly payments or a lump sum.

Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or “Disability” is a government program that provides monthly payments to workers who have a disability that limits their ability to work or prevents them from working altogether. It’s typically available when it’s anticipated that you won’t be able to work for a year or longer.

Here are some frequently asked questions about workers compensation and SSDI/Disability:

Q. What if I become disabled from an accident that happened while I was not at work?

Workers compensation benefits are only for those who are hurt at work. Social Security Disability benefits are for long-term impairments no matter the cause or location.

Q. When are workers compensation and SSDI benefits available?

Workers comp benefits are available from Day 1 on the job. SSDI benefits require a minimum number of days worked. An injured worker must have worked long enough and recently enough to qualify for SSDI. It’s used when a worker has a longer term injury.

Q. Can an injured worker received both workers compensation and SSDI benefits?

The short answer is yes, in some situations the worker can receive both. You shouldn’t apply for it without talking to a lawyer first though.

Q. How does workers compensation affect SSDI benefits?

If you combine your monthly SSDI benefits with your workers compensation benefits, the total amount must not exceed 80% of your average current earnings. If your SSDI plus workers comp benefits is greater than 80%, the amount above is deducted from your Social Security benefit.

Q. How does having an attorney help?

Attorneys who specialize in workers compensation and SSDI know these complex laws and eligibility requirements backwards and forwards. They can help you navigate this confusing and time-consuming process. They know which medical records and documentation are necessary. They will help maximize your benefits. Most importantly, they will make sure that when you settle your work comp case that it’s done so in a way that reduces any set-off to your social security pay.

Q. How does the attorney get paid?

Workers comp and SSDI attorneys do not charge anything up front. They only get paid if they obtain a settlement for you.

You may have more questions about qualifying for and filing for workers compensation and/or SSDI benefits. Contact us any time at 312-346-5578.

Illinois Workers’ Compensation Scammer

Not too long ago I had a call from someone that felt like it should be an April Fools call, but it wasn’t.

Basically, the caller was worried about her son. He had received payment for being off work for three months, but apparently was on video, drunk and dancing at a party and joking about how he had faked a work injury so he didn’t have to work all winter. Apparently the insurance company has become aware of this video.

Mom was calling because her son told her he wanted to get a lawyer to get a settlement. Some thoughts on this:

  1. There is zero chance an insurance company is going to offer him a settlement.
  2. It’s more likely they will send the video to the State to have this worker investigated for insurance fraud.
  3. No lawyer we know of, even the slimiest ones, would represent someone who is on video saying that they’ve been scamming the work comp insurance company.
  4. If we had a client do this, we would file to withdraw from their case right away. Every lawyer we know would handle it the same way.

Now I don’t hear more than once or twice a year out of over 1,000 calls/emails from someone who I think is faking their injury. Most people are hard working, honest and just want their legitimate injury taken care of. That’s not to say that some people don’t exaggerate, but the reality is that people aren’t looking to scam the system.

What I will say is that there are lessons here for honestly injured people who have legit Illinois workers’ compensation claims.

First off, don’t do activities that are beyond your restrictions. This guy was claiming terrible back pain and that he could barely walk. In the video he was apparently dancing and jumping up and down.

Second, stay off social media. This super genius reportedly posted his activities on his own social media accounts. You’d have to be an idiot of course to confess a felony online. But for the average, honest worker, I wouldn’t be posting anything. Insurance companies are monitoring your social media accounts. Even if you post something that seems innocent, it could be used against you.

Finally, don’t discuss your case with anyone other than your spouse or your lawyer. People get jealous when someone has a work comp case and they know they might get a settlement. You can’t assume that others are looking out for you or care about you. And also, your case and your possible settlement is none of their business.

Oh and by the way. This super genius criminal apparently also said on tape that he had done this before and “it’s so easy.” I personally hope he ends up in jail as those types of scammers make cases harder for honest workers.

IL Work Comp – Your Employer Can’t Talk To Your Doctor

I’ve been blogging for more than a decade and I try to not throw over legally terms out there, but instead talk in plain English. That’s how I like to be talked to and I’ve found that most injured Illinois workers appreciate that.

I’m going to violate my rule for a second. I’ve noticed many employers, especially downstate, are violating something called the Petrillo Doctrine. It’s something you should worry about if you have a work comp case.

What is the Petrillo Doctrine? It’s a law that developed from an old court case. It basically says your employer, their attorney, the insurance company or anyone else can’t talk to your doctor without your permission or you being present. And you don’t have to give them permission.

It goes on to say that if they violate the Petrillo rule, any information that comes from those conversations is barred from evidence. So if they get your doctor to state that your injury isn’t work related or that you can return to work, if they violate the Petrillo Doctrine, they won’t be able to use it against you.

That said, this rule does get violated a lot. It usually happens when an injured worker doesn’t have an attorney in their corner to protect them from nonsense like this. Most doctors don’t want to deal with the nagging or badgering that these insurance companies do. So often they’ll just roll over and go against their better judgment to get a nurse case manager or someone else off their back.

Or as in the case of a recent caller to our office who had a major injury, they agreed the worker could return to the job with certain physical restrictions. Of course no such job existed within those restrictions so the employer ended up trying to bully the worker to do work that wasn’t safe for them. Their strategy was to get the injured worker back to the job site and make their life miserable.

Now if push comes to shove, we can get that doctor’s note thrown out, but it shouldn’t be an issue any worker has to deal with in the first place. Your doctor should just give you the treatment they think you need and not be pressured into doing anything at all. Sadly, many companies do violate this law and get away with it because workers just don’t know any better.

If you see this happening, you have a right to make clear to your doctor that they don’t have your permission to talk to anyone about your care or your case. And please call us any time for clarification on how this law works. We help with cases everywhere in Illinois.

Trucking Company Tries To Trick Employees Out Of Illinois Work Comp Rights

We have helped thousands of truck drivers pursue Illinois workers’ compensation benefits. For those clients, if they don’t hire an attorney who delivers great customer service, they are going to have a hard time. I say that because quite often they live of state so they can’t just pop into the office. They also are on the road working a lot so they need an attorney who’s available when they are.

Truck drivers bring Illinois workers comp cases when they are injured in Illinois or their home terminal is here and that’s where they went to get hired. They also of course can bring a case in Illinois if they primarily work out of Illinois.

The work comp laws in IL are better for truck drivers than probably any other state. Some states have terrible work comp laws that greatly favor the company. One such state is Kansas. And one company there is apparently trying to trick their drivers into thinking that if they get hurt they can’t pursue their case anywhere but Kansas. That’s not true.

I’m aware of this because of a driver we spoke to who got badly injured while driving his truck through Illinois. He was in the hospital and a doctor told him he should pursue an Illinois work comp case, but he didn’t believe that was possible. That’s because this company apparently has their drivers sign a document that says if they get hurt while driving, they have to pursue workers comp in Kansas.

Now I have no idea if that contract is enforceable or not in Kansas (it probably isn’t), but it’s definitely not enforceable in Illinois. Your employer, even if your employer isn’t based here, can’t force you to waive your workers comp rights. And because they have their drivers come through our state, they are bound by our laws.

So this truck driver and any other truck driver who gets hurt while driving in Illinois, even if off the clock, can pursue Illinois work comp benefits. And this is huge for him. As I understand it, Kansas has limits on how much can be paid for a case. There are no such limits here. So while hopefully his injury recovers quickly, he doesn’t have to stress about what will happen if it doesn’t.

And this applies to all workers, not just truck drivers. It’s just most common with them.

If you take anything from this post, just know that your employer doesn’t always tell the truth and is looking out for themselves, not you. So in the very least, get a free legal opinion so you can know what rights you have. We will talk to you any time.

Don’t Treat With The Company Doctor Only

Nothing sets me off more than insurance companies and employers blatantly lying to injured workers about their rights. I heard a terrible lie a worker was told lately. It’s honestly one of the worst ones I’ve ever been told.

This worker tore their rotator cuff and has been treating with the company doctor only. He wanted to see his own orthopedic doctor, but the workers comp coordinator at his company told him, “That’s a really bad idea. It will delay things and the insurance company won’t pay for it anyway.”

What really happened is that the company doctor has been delaying things. He made the worker get a CT scan instead of a MRI. He pushed cortisone injections for months over surgery even though the injections provided no relief. Now his arm feels worse than ever. He ended up seeing a doctor on his own that he paid for out of pocket (we can get that reimbursed) who told him he needed surgery right away.

The truth is that there’s almost never a situation where treating with the company doctor only is a better idea than working with a doctor who is looking out for your best interests. They have an obligation to you. Even the most moral company doctor knows that their paycheck and job depends on the company keeping them around. So they make medical decisions that are at least in part with what’s best for the company in mind.

So it might mean they do physical therapy for two days a week instead of three. Or limit that session to 30 minutes instead of an hour. Or refuse or delay costly tests like MRI’s which can get to the bottom of your problem. And they likely are communicating about your confidential medical information directly with someone from the employer who will be pressuring them to release you to return to work, possibly sooner than you are ready.

A great doctor who is looking out for you is not going to care about a work comp case, the insurance company, the employer or anything else beyond what is the proper medical care for someone in your situation. They’ll treat you the same if you get hurt lifting a box at work or your kid at home. That’s what you should expect and what you deserve.

Any employer or insurance company who tries to keep you from getting your own doctor is looking out for their interests, not yours. Don’t fall for that trick. And if you need help getting with a good doctor, let us know and we will make sure that happens for you.

The Dumbest Thing I’ve Heard An Illinois Work Comp Attorney Do In A While

I just don’t get some lawyers. It’s usually the older ones who do the dumbest things, and that is exactly what happened to a recent caller to my office.

She had a major injury which requires back surgery. She hired a lawyer who has over 40 years of experience and a reputation as a crotchety asshole. I get the sense he doesn’t like being a lawyer anymore so sadly it appears that he takes out his frustrations on his clients.

Her benefits got cut off after an independent medical exam (IME) said she the surgery she needs isn’t related to her job. She had a question about that and what she should do, so she called up her lawyer after she got a letter from him that was explaining what was happening with the case.

For whatever reason, he was set off by her asking for a clarification of something she didn’t understand from the letter. He proceeded to scream at her and said, “Maybe you should get a new lawyer if I don’t explain things well enough for you!”

Now mind you, she said that she hadn’t spoken to him in months so it’s not like she’s a nagging client. And even if she is, of course she has a right as the client to ask any question that she has. That’s of course why you hire a lawyer, to have an advocate for you and someone who is supposed to know about Illinois work comp laws to be there as a resource.

He apparently couldn’t be bothered or was having a really bad day. And it’s kind of crazy. Based on what I know/heard, this case could be worth around $150,000-$250,000 which is pretty big for work comp. It’s a really decent fee that the lawyer seems willing to throw away.

Now none of us are perfect and there are times where everyone doesn’t feel like talking. But this is the job he signed up for. Sometimes you have to just grit your teeth and fake it until you make it.

Given that I’ve heard a lot of similar stories about this lawyer and that he’s been in trouble with the State for ethical misconduct, it didn’t surprise me to get this call. As the caller was downstate, my advice was to tell her to get a new lawyer before a settlement offer was made. The call to do that came down to me asking if she’d have faith in this lawyer if the case went to trial and she said, “Unfortunately, I would not.”

When you get to that point, it’s really the point of no return and you have to switch firms. But really, the moment you are disrespected by your lawyer should tell you all you need to know to make a decision.