In Illinois, Workers’ Comp Settlements serve as a safety net for employees who get hurt or ill on the job. Whether it’s a minor injury or something more severe, workers’ comp benefits provide financial support to cover employees’ medical bills and replace part of their lost wages.
But what happens when surgery becomes a part of the equation? Does it automatically mean a higher settlement? Not necessarily. Here’s what you should know about the various effects surgery can have on your claim.
Calculating Workers’ Compensation Settlements in Illinois
Numerous factors play a role in calculating your final workers’ compensation settlement amount. One key factor is your average weekly wage (AWW), the baseline for calculating your wage replacement benefits when you miss work. Another is the severity of your injuries, which directly affects the types of treatment you need and how much those treatments cost.
The primary inquiry rests on your recovery after surgery, or how you present at “maximum medical improvement.” Focus will then center on whether you have lost range of motion, lost strength, lost dexterity, or sustained another negative impact on the function of your body parts.
Your ability to return to work, either in your previous role or in a different capacity, can also affect your settlement amount. This is because the length of time you’re out of work affects your need for short-term or long-term wage replacement benefits.
How a Surgery Could Affect Your Workers’ Comp Settlement
If you get hurt at work and need surgery as part of your treatment plan, it’s important to understand how this could affect your workers’ comp settlement. Surgical procedures are often necessary for more serious injuries, and it’s understandable to assume that this should lead to a higher settlement. However, the reality isn’t so simple.
If your insurer pays your medical bills directly, as many do, you can’t include those expenses in your settlement amount. In other words, even if the surgery is extremely costly, your insurer’s direct payment of these bills won’t inflate your settlement.
That said, the need for surgery could have other implications for your claim. Surgical procedures often necessitate longer recovery periods. This isn’t a great thing because off-work wages are paid at a percentage rate of a person’s regular wages, leading to a decrease in money available. The matter is more complicated because some people recover very well from surgery and end up completely healed so the surgery does not significantly alter the settlement. On the other hand, some people are less fortunate and have residual restrictions placed on them following surgery (for example, weightlifting restrictions, work restrictions, and the like). It is also common for some persons to lose partial function of a body part after a work injury, even if the person has surgery. Simply put, some people never fully recover.
Doctors can measure many aspects of the loss of a person’s bodily functions and can testify to their medical opinions at deposition. Your lawyer can take the transcript of the deposition and use it to attempt and obtain a higher amount for you at settlement or arbitration.
All of these factors and more will affect settlement, and if the case does not settle, there will be evidence presented to the arbitrator at the hearing.
How a Workers’ Compensation Attorney Can Maximize Your Settlement
Hiring an experienced workers’ compensation attorney can make a significant difference in the outcome of your workers’ comp claim. They can maximize your settlement by:
- Conducting a comprehensive investigation into the circumstances surrounding your work injury
- Obtaining medical records and other necessary documentation to support your claim
- Identifying witnesses who can corroborate your account of the incident
- Calculating the full extent of lost wages to include in your settlement
- Challenging unfair independent medical evaluations conducted by your employer’s medical providers
- Ensuring that all your paperwork and legal documentation is accurate and filed on time
- Negotiating with insurance adjusters for a fair and reasonable settlement
- Advising you on whether to opt for a lump sum payment or a structured settlement
- Representing you at workers’ comp hearings as necessary to argue your case effectively
- Communicating directly with your employer to resolve any disputes or issues
Contact an Illinois Workers’ Comp Lawyer Today
Have you suffered a workplace injury? Do you have questions about your potential workers’ comp settlement? Get the clarity and representation you deserve with the Noll Law Office. They offer free consultations to evaluate your case and outline a tailored legal strategy.
Reach out now at 217-414-8889 to speak with an Illinois workers’ compensation lawyer about maximizing your settlement and getting on with your life.