Need Help Obtaining A Settlement on Your Work Comp Case?
Are you struggling with trying to get enough funds from the workers’ compensation insurance company to cover all the losses you’ve suffered? Has the workers’ compensation company denied your claim, refused to return your phone calls, or left you dealing with unpaid medical bills?
The lawyers at the Noll Law Office help their clients obtain the Illinois workers’ compensation settlements owed to them. If a settlement cannot be reached, the parties will go to arbitration and request an order granting you coverage of benefits. A settlement may be beneficial, but if you do not have experience in handling workers’ compensation cases in Illinois, it is hard to know if you are being treated fairly. It can be a good idea to let a workers’ compensation attorney help you determine if you should move toward a settlement and what that figure should be.
The Noll Law Office has workers’ compensation attorneys in Springfield, IL, who can help you obtain a fair settlement for your workplace injury. Their lawyers offer free consultations and will offer you a no-obligation assessment of your case. They are local, experienced lawyers who live, work, and raise their families in Springfield, Illinois. If you hire their firm, you will be treated with respect, and your case will not be pawned off to some junior associate. Sarah Noll or Daniel Noll will handle your case from start to finish. You can call them today at (217) 414-8889 or use their Contact Us page to submit an electronic inquiry.
Overview of Illinois Workers’ Compensation Settlements
Illinois workers’ compensation settlements are not the first step in obtaining benefits from workers’ compensation. If you would like a more in-depth discussion of what benefits are available to you, please read the Noll Law Office’s page dedicated to the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act. A settlement typically occurs when the injured worker and the workers’ compensation company come to an agreement on what the company’s responsibilities are for benefits associated with that injury. This includes but is not limited to, benefits such as:
- Payment of medical bills
- Payment of any residual loss for the use of your body
- Disfigurement, or
- Outstanding wages from when you were off work recovering from your injury.
Most often, workers’ compensation settlements involve a lump sum of money. There are some situations where they could be paid out over time through installments. This could happen, for example, in wage differential claims and death claims. You may also receive installments if you are considered “permanently and totally disabled.” That means you will be unable to return to work long-term.
In some cases, Illinois workers’ compensation settlements close out all the injured person’s benefits. That includes any claims for the additional medical care you may be owed. You should strongly consider whether you will need future medical care prior to any settlement. In short, the Noll Law Office can assist you with the fine details that must be addressed in settlement negotiations in order to help you protect your interests.
Do I Need an Attorney to Apply for a Settlement?
No. You are not legally required to have a workers’ compensation attorney help you with settling or litigating your claim. However, it is highly recommended that you consult with a lawyer. Settlements involve a lot of nuanced references to individual statutory frameworks that most non-attorneys do not have training in. Those legislative references have a huge impact on the injured employees’ rights when settlement negotiations begin.
What is My Claim Worth?
Simply stated – every case is unique. However, there are two main factors that determine the value of your claim 1) your “average weekly wage” and 2) the nature and extent of your injuries as documented in your medical records.
Because the workers’ compensation system uses statutory-mandated calculations to determine benefits, the first thing you will need to do is have your attorney obtain your wage history for the year prior to your work injury. You should also note that the State of Illinois has maximum and minimum benefit rates for almost every benefit.
What Is My Average Weekly Wage?
Once the wage history is obtained, your attorney should determine the appropriate method to calculate your wages. In Sylvester v. Industrial Comm’n, 197 Ill.2d 225 (Il.Sup. Ct. 2001), the Supreme Court found that Section 10 of the Illinois Workers Compensation Act governs wage calculations and that there are four methods of determining wages:
(1) By default, the average weekly wage is “actual earnings” during the 52-week period preceding the date of injury, illness, or disablement, divided by 52.
(2) If the employee lost five or more calendar days during that 52-week period, “whether or not in the same week,” then the employee’s earnings are divided not by 52 but by “the number of weeks and parts thereof remaining after the time so lost has been deducted.”
(3) If the employee’s employment began during the 52-week period, the earnings during employment are divided by “the number of weeks and parts thereof during which the employee actually earned wages.”
(4) Finally, if the employment has been of such short duration or the terms of the employment of such casual nature that it is “impractical” to use one of the three above methods to calculate average weekly wage, “regard shall be had to the average weekly amount which during the 52 weeks previous to the injury, illness or disablement was being or would have been earned by a person in the same grade employed at the same work for each of such 52 weeks for the same number of hours per week by the same employer.”
So to determine what your case is worth, the first thing you need to do is sit down and have an honest conversation with your attorney about:
- when and why you missed work in the year prior to the injury;
- how long you have worked for that employer;
- whether you have had any other part-time jobs in the year prior to your work injury; and
- other important information which can impact your average weekly wage calculation.
Your attorney should sit down and work with you to come up with an accurate as possible picture of your average weekly wage to calculate what your case is worth.
What Do Your Medical Records (and Doctors) Say?
The second thing you will need to do to determine the value of your claim(s) is to have an honest and thorough review of your medical records. Generally, the worse an injury is, the more compensation is awarded at the end of the case. So, if your injury is minor, congratulations! You can continue in your line of work; you are not facing a life-long disability, do not require long-lasting future medical care, and – towards that end – will probably have a smaller settlement.
On the other hand, if you did have a catastrophic injury, the likelihood is high that you will have a large settlement. The likelihood that you will need future medical care is higher. The likelihood that your employment prospects will be impacted is higher. The limitations on your body in terms of loss of function, loss of range of motion, loss of strength, dexterity, and other losses are an insured event. They are compensable. So, your settlement will be high, albeit for very sad reasons.
Ultimately, your attorney should have a very frank discussion with you on what your case is worth based on your medical records, your treating physician’s opinions (sometimes taken through deposition), your employment history, and other facts relevant to your case.
The Noll Law Office can help you with these inquiries. The financial calculations alone can be quite confusing. If you have been hurt at work, call the Noll Law Office today at (217) 414-8889. Since 1948, the Noll Law Office has been locally owned and operated. Its Illinois workers’ compensation attorneys are here to meet with you and will provide you with an honest opinion on whether you have a valid work comp claim.
When Can I Negotiate a Settlement for Illinois Workers’ Compensation Benefits?
Making the decision to negotiate a settlement instead of continuing to pursue arbitration is a big one. You should discuss with your workers’ compensation attorney the best time to do this. Most often, Illinois workers’ compensation settlements are beneficial when you have reached maximum medical improvement and do not require future medical care. Essentially, if your doctor believes you have recovered as much as possible with the treatment that’s available to you, and you will not require much more future medical care.
If you try to settle your case before this and you learn that you need more advanced care over time, you might not receive enough compensation for all your losses. This will be particularly true if you are forced to take off work again in the future as a result of your injuries and the corresponding need for medical care.
On the other hand, taking your case to arbitration usually automatically preserves your right to future medical care. If you are likely to need future medical care, you should strongly move forward with arbitration. While this takes longer, sometimes a lot longer (due to the high number of cases in Illinois and the limited number of arbitrators) the bottom line is that your right to future medical care is extremely important.
That’s why it is so important to work with a trusted workers’ compensation attorney who can help you to make the best decision on when to settle. There is a myriad of small details that your attorney can help you review and explain how the settlement may or may not affect your future. If nothing else, your attorney might be able to negotiate a higher settlement amount to “close out” your future medical care resulting in a larger amount being paid to you.
How Long Does a Work Comp Settlement Take in Illinois?
From the start of the claim to the finalization of the settlement, the overall process can take a few months to a few years. This depends on the complexity and severity of your case. However, once an agreement as to the terms of the settlement has been made, it usually takes a few weeks to become finalized.
Settlements can take time as both parties must come to an agreement on the terms and conditions. There could be some negotiations about this. Often, the case will settle “on the eve of trial,” which means that both parties will prepare for arbitration and not settle until right before the hearing. This technique is used often by insurance companies that hope that an employee will become frustrated and accept less than what their claim is worth.
Once an agreement is made, the settlement must be approved by the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission. Illinois has moved to an online system for approving settlements called Compfile. This approval is usually done by the arbitrator assigned to the claim. A person called an arbitrator will be assigned to review the case and ensure that the settlement provided is considered reasonable and fair to all parties. At times, the arbitrator will request additional information before approving or denying a settlement.
The key to settlements is to negotiate vigorously and not to be afraid to move forward toward arbitration. In certain circumstances, that is the only way to secure a fair result.
How Can the Noll Law Office Help With My Work Comp Settlement?
The Noll Law Office provides representation for those who have been injured at work in front of the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission. If you reach out to them to set up a consultation with their workers’ compensation attorney in Springfield, IL, they’ll talk to you about all of your legal options. They can help determine how much of a settlement you can expect and then work with you to file any necessary claims. You only pay them if they are successful in obtaining a settlement or award at arbitration for you. They can be reached at (217) 414-8889.