If you’ve been injured in an accident at work in Illinois, you may be aware that you are eligible for workers’ compensation benefits. You may not be aware, though, that you are also eligible for a workers’ compensation settlement. Deciding to opt for a settlement in your workers’ compensation case involves a lot of different formulas that include determining financial outcomes using ratios and percentages.
You’ll need to determine how many weeks of workers’ compensation you are eligible for when calculating how much you should receive in a settlement. You will also need to figure the percentage of how injured you are, which will affect how much you can receive as well.
In other words, it’s complicated to know what to do if you are injured at work.
It’s difficult for an injured worker on their own to know when to settle and what the value of that settlement should be in terms of lost wages and medical treatments. Working with an experienced workers’ compensation lawyer in Illinois is absolutely your best bet to make sure you receive all the benefits to which you are entitled.
A workers’ comp settlement is essentially an agreement between you, the injured party, and your employer’s insurance company that will pay compensation for your injury. Settlements are normally paid in a lump sum and identify the body part or parts that were injured.
In most cases, you can settle your claim any time you’d like, but in Illinois, you cannot sign a settlement agreement within seven days of suffering the injury. Aside from that, the best time, however, is when you have reached Maximum Medical Improvement (MMI). MMI occurs when your doctor tells you that you have recovered or that you have healed as much as you’re going to.
It would be unwise to settle your case before you reach MMI because you do not know how much better or worse, your condition will get during your medical treatments. Signing a settlement before you reach MMI normally means any future medical treatments you need would not be covered in the settlement.
It’s entirely possible that you will have good reasons for not waiting until you reach MMI before settling a workers’ compensation case. If that is the case, make sure you speak with an experienced workers’ comp attorney who can help you negotiate a settlement that will include funds to help pay for any future medical treatment.
There are several different types of workers’ compensation benefits in Illinois:
If you been injured at work and need some time off to recover, you are eligible for temporary total disability benefits. You will continue to receive workers’ compensation benefits until you are cleared to return to work as recommended by your doctor.
If your doctor determines that you are permanently disabled — normally for very severe injuries that leave you unable to work in any capacity — you will receive weekly temporary total disability payments for the rest of your life.
If your doctor determines that you have a permanent partial disability, you could be eligible to receive additional benefits. In Illinois, there are several types of permanent partial disability benefits and it is important to figure out what benefit(s) you would be entitled to by contacting an attorney.
There are several factors that can affect how much you can claim as a settlement in a workers’ compensation case. Those factors include but are not limited to:
Terms you are most likely to hear during any settlement negotiation include PPD (permanent partial disability, as noted above) or “percentage loss of use.”
PPD determines how much compensation you will receive in terms of how your injury will affect your wages or your ability to work in the future. You receive compensation based on how much the injured body part is diminished. It is, to some degree, misleading.
For instance, if you break your foot at work, there is every chance in the world that it will heal properly with no real diminished nature. If it was a work-related injury, however, you are entitled to receive a settlement or an award after a hearing.
When you are trying to decide the appropriate PPD in a settlement, you must first determine your average weekly wage (gross) and multiply it by the percentage determined under Illinois law, which is 60% of your average weekly wage.
For example: If you were earning $1,000.00 a week and you were injured, your PPD rate at 60% would be $600.00.
These minimum and maximum rates change year to year. You should check the most current benefit rates at the IWCC’s website’s benefits rates page.
Was it a foot, hand or leg injury? Did you suffer a disfigurement of some kind? A head injury? The part of your body that was injured also factors into the amount of your workers’ compensation totals.
Normally you determine your percentage loss of use through the opinions of your doctors andmedical records, the treatment you have received for your injuries if your doctor has placed any restrictions on a possible return to work and the need for future medical treatment in your current condition..
Your attorney, if you have decided to work with an attorney, makes a settlement demand to the employer’s insurance company. If you are negotiating a settlement on your own, the likelihood is that the insurance company will make you a settlement offer — remember that you do not have to accept any settlement offer. Or, the insurance company may not offer you anything. The fact is that, as we noted above, many injured workers are unaware they are eligible to receive a settlement for their injuries.
If you do not receive a settlement offer from the insurance company, you will continue to receive the workers’ compensation benefits to which you are entitled. But if you believe that a lump sum payment offers you better financial options, either you or your attorney will need to approach the insurance company in most cases.
Do not expect the insurance company to settle right away. There may be a fair bit of negotiating before a final settlement offer is agreed-upon. Remember, the goal of your employer’s insurance company is to pay you as little as possible. That’s why working with an experienced workers’ compensation attorney offers you the best chance of getting compensated for the full benefits to which you are entitled.
Once you and the insurance company agree on a sum, the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission must approve any agreement. An arbitrator for the commission will check the settlement to make sure it is fair and that the proper amount is being paid.
Once the arbitrator has approved the contract, the settlement is final. You no longer have the right to a workers’ compensation hearing once you reach a settlement. Therefore, it’s very important to think hard about choosing a settlement over a hearing. Lump sum payments may look inviting, but you may end up with more benefits if you take your case through a workers’ compensation hearing. Then again, if you go to a hearing, you may lose the case. It’s important that you talk to a workers’ compensation attorney before you make any decision.
As one of the most respected law firms in Chicago, we have the experience and the expertise to deal with your workers’ compensation claim. If you’ve decided you would like to negotiate a settlement for your workers’ compensation benefits case, we can help. We’ve negotiated many similar settlements for clients in the past, and we always make sure you receive all the benefits to which you are entitled.
If you would like to talk to us about a possible settlement of your workers’ compensation claim, you can call us at 1-312-782-4545 or contact us online. An attorney will get back to you as soon as possible. We look forward to working together with you to get you the compensation which you deserve.