October 2008


In Illinois Workers Compensation cases, settlements are about more than money. 

Settlements also cover medical bills and close out future medical treatment.

Recently, an insurance company lawyer told me he had a pro se , a person who was not represented by a lawyer, with a settlement contract approved. The problem: the medical records showed he had continuing knee problems and the doctor said a total knee replacement would be needed at some point. The Arbitrator over looked this and approved the contracts. This results in the person never having access to future medical treatment for his knee. 

You must be very careful when settling your Work Comp case. No one is going to look out for you. Not the insurance company, not the Arbitrator. If you think you are going to need future medical treatment you need to discuss this with a lawyer.

Questions? Call Attorney Dirk May at 309-827-4371.

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If you do not do anything else when you have a work injury, you should at least tell the Doctor that you hurt yourself at work.

The first thing the Arbitrator will look for in the medical records is your explanation of the accident. If it shows that you hurt yourself at work your case is much stronger.

If you tell the Doctor you hurt yourself at work, or you noticed your symptoms increasing while doing work activities then the Doctor is more likely to support your case. 

There is something about having that connection in your medical records that the Arbitrator can rely on, and the Doctor feels more comfortable and willing to express a stronger opinion in your favor.

Even the insurance company is more likely to extend an offer when they see the work injury history in writing.

It is always nice to have an accident report right after the accident, and to have witnesses, but at least you have control over what you tell your doctor. And you can also tell your doctor about the work and injury connection on more than visit.

Remember to tell your Doctor about how you got hurt, you will not regret it.

In Illinois, Workers Compensation cases are not finished overnight. There are several reasons for this.

First, you cannot settle your case or have a trial until you are done with your medical treatment. If you run into complications this can, of course, extend your case for some time.

You can have an emergency trial if medical treatment is denied or time off pay is denied. However, this trial only resolves part of your case. You may have to have another trial to finish your case.

Second, the insurance company will usually require a deposition of your doctor. This will take time to fit in the doctor’s schedule so the testimony can be recorded for trial.

Third, the Arbitrator’s written decision will take anywhere from 45 to 90 days after the trial. Both sides can appeal. An appeal to the Illinois Workers Compensation Commission takes anywhere from 1 to 2 years. The case can be appealed from there to the Circuit and Appellate Courts.

Enough with the depressing news. Most cases do not take this long. Should you have any questions please feel free to call me, Attorney Dirk May at 309-827-4371.

A Worker’s Compensation lawyer once told me that if he had a family member who had a back injury he would not counsel him to settle his case. He would instead tell him to go to trial.

The reason is that back injuries are complicated and can result in life long problems.

The settlement contract closes out all future medical treatment for the back.

The only way to leave open the possibility for future medical treatment for your back is to have a Workers’ Compensation trial. The trial is not as scary as it seems. It is nothing like you see on television. There is no jury and it usually lasts less than 1 hour.  The only people in the room are the Arbitrator, a court reporter and the lawyers. Sometimes a company representative is also present.

If an insurance company lawyer is worried about future medical problems, shouldn’t you be?