How to protect yourself in a Workers Compensation case
Who’s on my side?
Often, injured workers contact us and tell us that they were hurt on the job, but their employer is already taking care of the workers compensation case. The worker explains that their employer acted immediately and contacted the company insurance adjuster, who then promptly jumped into action. This insurance company assured the worker that everything would be OK, that they would pay for all of their medical treatment, and even pay for most of their time off work. The injured worker tells us that they are very satisfied with how quickly the employer has handled matters so far and how nice everyone has been. So, the worker is not sure that he/she really needs a lawyer, because it seems like everything is being taken care of. Does this sound familiar?
It may sound familiar because it is a very common story, but not for the reasons you may think. You may very well work for one the best companies and your employer may very be one of the nicest and most caring employers. You may have worked there for many years and be one of the company's most valued employees. But the reason that employers often jump immediately into action is usually not for these thoughtful reasons. It is often because it saves them money. This is why:
When the employer's workers compensation insurance company steps up like this and begins to pay for lost time and medical bills, they often do so specifically in the hope that the injured worker will not contact an experienced Illinois workers compensation attorney. The hope is that the employee will feel satisfied and take no further action. They know that if the worker contacts an attorney, he or she will learn that there is much more to workers compensation in Illinois than just the payment of medical bills and lost time.
The insurance company or employer seldom tells workers that they are ALSO entitled to a settlement or award of money. If the employer’s insurance company can get away without paying this amount, they save money – sometimes BIG money. And even for those workers who learn that this exists, and receive such a settlement directly from the insurance company, it is very difficult to determine whether the amount of money received was the maximum settlement available, or whether they may have been cheated. That is because the computation of such an award or settlement is a very complicated matter.
Experienced Illinois workers compensation lawyers know what is a fair settlement and what is not. The insurance company is not required to give you the maximum settlement if they can get away with it. You need your own skilled attorney to look out for your best interests. There are so many other areas of compensation that also need to be looked at when attempting to settle a claim. Will the insurance company volunteer to pay for such things as Vocational Rehabilitation without being pushed by an attorney? Not likely. Will the insurance company help you to file the Application for Adjustment of Claim with the Commission, so that your rights are protected and so that the Statute of Limitations doesn't expire? Not a chance.
But in Illinois, luckily for the injured worker, the law allows our lawyers to represent workers on a contingency basis. That means if our attorneys cannot obtain a settlement or monetary award for you, there is no attorney fee. When successful, the fees are a smaller percentage of the amount received, which means that we will always do our very best to get our clients the maximum amount available. And there is never a fee for making sure that you are fully reimbursed for medical expenses and lost time.