April 2008


The real question in Worker’s Compensation cases is what motivates either party to  settle. There must be some good reasons since close to 90 percent of workers comp cases end in settlement.

The most obvious answer is that the injured worker needs the money and the medical bills need to be paid. Sometimes insurance companies use this leverage to make a lower offer. The only way to combat this is to be willing to stick it out until you get the value of the case or you go to trial and go through the appeal process.

It is important to remember that the insurance company also wants to settle the case to take the case off their books and prevent any further medical payments. The most costly part of the Workers Compensation case is medical bills. You can use this leverage against the insurance company, but  you must be willing to wait them out.

Impatience will cost you. 

My cardinal rule for whether to settle your Workers’ Compensation case or not, is what is my fear about future medical. If you do not think you will have future medical needs regarding your injury, then it is okay to settle. Or if you think you have good insurance to cover future needs, increasingly rare isn’t it, then it is okay to settle. In the event you have any concerns regarding future medical needs you should not settle and you will need to have a trial. This is the only way to preserve future medical rights in Illinois, unless the Workers’ Compensation insurance carrier will agree to give you future medical rights in the settlement contract. It is rare for the insurance company to do this. Here’s what to look for in a workers compensation settlement.

Illinois Workers’ Compensation, or what some call Workers Comp or Workmans compensation, is based on your average weekly wage for the 52 weeks before your injury. The award or settlement for permanent partial disability is determined according to a formula. Workers compensation law gives a certain number of weeks for different body parts. The average weekly wage times 60% times the number of weeks results in your settlement or award. For example, if you have a back surgery and you make $500 per week and you are offered 20% of a person (500 weeks is the most you can receive for a what is called person as a whole or a back injury) the formula would be 100 weeks x $500 x 60%= $30,000. The amount of weeks goes up based on whether you have a surgery, and the restrictions you may have as a result of the injury. You may be entitled to a wage differential if you cannot return to your former job and you have to work at a job that pays you less money.

There is no award of damages for pain and suffering in Illinois Workers Compensation and the amount of medical expenses does not directly influence the value of settlement.

Should you want to discuss your workmans comp settlement offer or the value of your case please call workers compensation Attorney Dirk May at 309-827-4371.

Before you settle your Workers or Workman’s Compensation in Illinois there are some important areas that need to covered.

First, all your medical bills need to have been paid or the contract must specifically contain language that will make the Workers Compensation Insurance company responsible for the bills. Once you sign the contract you are responsible for any future bills unless otherwise provided in the contract, and if you do not make sure past bills are paid or taken care of then you will have to pay for them out of your settlement.

Second, all your time off work must be paid and the amounts set out in the contract.

Third, you must have a specific amount in the contract for your permanent partial disability or injury. More about this in my next post.

Any questions about settlements or if you want me to review your workers compensation settlement offer with you free of charge, please call workmans compensation lawyer Dirk May at 309-827-4371.