When you’re hurt on the job, it can feel like you’ve been thrust into a storm of stress and uncertainty. You’re dealing with the physical pain of your injury, and on top of that, you’re worried about the mounting medical bills and the income you’re losing from being unable to work.
That’s where workers’ compensation comes in. In Illinois, most employers must carry this type of insurance coverage. Its purpose is to compensate you for your medical expenses and part of your lost wages if you’ve been injured or become ill because of your job.
But there’s a catch. The process of claiming these benefits can be complex and confusing. The forms can be challenging to fill out correctly, gathering the proper medical evidence can be daunting, and understanding all the legal requirements can feel like learning a new language. And to top it all off, insurance companies might deny that you’re entitled to benefits.
That’s where a workers’ compensation lawyer could make a difference. Read more to find out how a lawyer could help you with your Illinois workers’ comp claim, how much their services usually cost, and why it’s recommended that you hire a lawyer to assist you.
Understanding Workers’ Compensation
Workers’ compensation is a mandatory insurance program for businesses in Illinois, designed to provide financial assistance to workers who sustain work-related injuries or illnesses. It is designed to cover payment of medical bills, rehabilitation costs, and a portion of lost wages. However, insurers can deny claims for a variety of reasons, including:
- Lack of sufficient evidence that the injury or illness is work-related
- Delay in reporting the injury or filing a claim
- Discrepancies between the claim and medical records
The Role of a Workers’ Compensation Lawyer
A workers’ compensation lawyer could assist you in several critical ways:
- Navigating the system – Your lawyer can help you understand the intricacies of workers’ compensation law and the rules of the Workers Compensation Commission, ensuring you are aware of your rights and how to exercise them.
- Gathering evidence – They can subpoena necessary medical records, and safety reports, take physician depositions, and other relevant evidence to bolster your claim.
- Communication – They can communicate with the workers’ compensation insurer on your behalf, which can be particularly helpful given the insurance company may not always have your best interests at heart.
- Representation – If your claim is disputed or denied, your lawyer can represent you in hearings or appeals, advocating for your rights and striving to secure the benefits you deserve.
Why You Might Need a Lawyer for Your Workers’ Compensation Claim
Hiring a workers’ compensation lawyer can be particularly beneficial in scenarios such as:
- Your claim is denied – If the insurer denies your claim, a lawyer can help you understand why and guide you through the complex appeals process.
- The insurer offers a lowball settlement – If your settlement offer seems insufficient, your lawyer can argue for a better deal that adequately covers your medical expenses and lost wages.
- You have a permanent disability – In cases where the injury results in long-term or permanent disability, your lawyer could help you secure the long-term benefits and possible lump-sum settlements you deserve.
In general, a knowledgeable lawyer with experience handling workers’ compensation cases in Illinois could protect your rights and maximize the benefits you receive under the law.
The Cost of Hiring a Workers’ Compensation Lawyer in Illinois
One common concern for injured workers is how much a worker’s compensation lawyer might cost. However, most worker’s compensation lawyers represent clients on a contingency fee basis, meaning they only get paid if they win your case. If they don’t recover anything for you, there is no fee, eliminating any concerns about affordability.
Additionally, workers’ compensation lawyers can typically charge a fee of no more than 20 percent of a settlement, as stipulated by Illinois law. However, in some cases, they cannot charge any fees. For instance, an attorney cannot charge you fees related to undisputed medical expenses or temporary total disability (TTD) compensation. That said, if an insurer refuses to pay TTD or an employer terminates the payments, an attorney could charge a fee if they reinstate the payments.
In cases involving death, total disability, or partial disability, the maximum fee is 20 percent of seven years’ permanent total disability (PTD) payments. In some severe and undisputed cases, such as death or loss of a limb, the attorney’s fee is capped at $100. If you hire an attorney late in your claim because you’re unhappy with your settlement offer, the attorney’s fee will be a percentage of the amount they can increase your settlement over the initial offer.
Aside from attorney fees, there may be other costs like court filing fees, charges for obtaining medical records, or fees for expert testimonies. Your lawyer should provide a detailed explanation of any potential costs you may incur during the process.
How to Choose the Right Lawyer for Your Workers’ Compensation Claim
Choosing the right lawyer is crucial. Look for an attorney with a strong track record in workers’ compensation cases and positive client reviews like the Illinois workers’ compensation lawyers at the Noll Law Office. Credentials matter, but so does a compassionate approach. If you’ve been injured on the job, call them today at (217) 414-8889 or contact them online to schedule a consultation to discuss your rights.