ILLINOIS WORKERS’ COMPENSATION (work related accidents) ACCIDENTS
Generally, all injuries sustained by employees (arising from accidents which occur in the course of your employment) share the following important facts you should know and which many other attorneys’ websites do not mention.
The most important things you must know at the outset, when injured in the course of your employment, is that even if you are at fault (such as making a mistake, but following your normal rules of employment) you are still FULLY ENTITLED TO ALL BENEFITS. Another important thing is that YOU CANNOT SUE YOUR EMPLOYER FOR THE ACCIDENT! A “Workers’ Compensation “claim” is not considered a “lawsuit”. You do NOT have the right to a “Jury Trial” as you would in a lawsuit. Also, unlike normal lawsuits, the legal fees charged by attorneys, which normally range from 33 & 1/3rd% (sometimes as high as 50%) of the damages awarded to you, Illinois limits (with some minor exceptions) the lawyer’s fees to a maximum of 20%. On the other hand, while you cannot sue your employer (or any co-employee, unless that co-employee intentionally caused you to be injured), the law provides your entitlement to (among other things) certain benefits.
YOUR FIRST BENEFIT: The first benefit you are entitled to receive is to have the employer pay all medical bills to the injuries sustained by you in your work-related accident. Another benefit attached to this Illinois statute is that it prevents bill collectors from initiating suits or attempting any collection action(s) against you (for unpaid medical bills relating to this work-related accident) if you notify the medical provider that you have a Workers’ Compensation claim pending.
YOUR SECOND BENEFIT: Should your medical provider (doctor) decide you are totally unable to perform any work for your employer and that doctor puts that decision (opinion) in writing, you will be entitled to receive what are called: temporary total disability (“TTD”) benefits. This benefit generally amounts to two-thirds of the “average weekly wage” (but there are certain exceptions to this amount, such as certain “maximums” and “minimums” which apply) earned by you for the 52 week period immediately preceding the date of your accident. This also however does not generally (but there are exceptions) include overtime pay received by you during that 52 week period. This “TTD” benefit should (with some exceptions) continue to be paid to you for the entire period you are “temporarily, totally disabled” (unable to return to your regular employment) unless and until the employer finds some alternate work for you to do while you recover from your injuries. This alternative work is generally is referred-to as “light duty”. If the employer assigns you “light duty work” while you are recuperating from the injuries related to your accident and pays you a lower amount weekly (on light duty) than the TTD that you are entitled to receive, the employer and/or employer’s insurance company will then have to make up the difference in pay.
YOUR THIRD BENEFIT: The third benefit you are entitled to receive is a “Permanent Partial Disability” (“PPD”) award or settlement sum. This sum is to be given to you as compensation for the “disability” you suffered as a result of the work-related accident. This sum DOES NOT NORMALLY INCLUDE any award for the pain and suffering associated with your injury (as in personal injury cases) or pay for the inconveniences suffered by you because of this injury or the loss of your normal (gross) earnings for that time period from the point in time of the accident until the point in time that you are released to go back to work by your doctor. Instead, the “PPD” is based upon a percentage amount which (in accordance with the Statutory amounts set out in the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act), in general terms, represents the percentage loss of your future use of the part of your body (e.g. hand, arm, leg or even your whole body) injured in the accident. This percentage is a comparison between the difference the way your affected body part(s) functioned before the accident vs. the way that same body part exists or functions AFTER being released from further care OR AFTER you reach Maximum Medical Improvement (“MMI”) as determined by your doctor at the time of your release.
So WHY consider hiring an attorney to represent you in filing a claim for benefits when you are involved in a work related accident? There are MANY REASONS you should retain an attorney to represent your interests in a Workers’ Compensation claim.
REASON # 1: Many injured employees generally wait until long after the injury occurs before even thinking about hiring a lawyer to represent them with respect to this injury, thinking all the while that their employer will “do the right thing” by them. This may be a VERY BIG MISTAKE!! It is generally NOT your employer who is handling your claim or paying benefits to you. Instead, you generally are dealing with an intermediary, such as a representative (“adjuster”) from an insurance company that carries insurance coverage for your employer or maybe even some other intermediary company which handles the claim for your employer’s Workers Compensation insurance carrier, putting your care and receipt of benefits even further away from your employer. These intermediary entities have a driving motivation to keep your benefits as low as possible to justify their cost to your employer and/or your employer’s insurance company. These intermediaries are experienced experts – YOU ARE NOT! We, at McDermott & McDermott, Ltd. have 38 years (far more than the average adjuster) of experiences to bring to bear to get you ALL benefits due you and the best outcome possible for your PPD award or settlement.
REASON # 2: If you have not yet thought the Workers’ Compensation Act is somewhat complicated from the foregoing, you are in a very small percentile of individuals trying to understand this area of law. You should also be aware that the foregoing is NOT an exhaustive listing of all the benefits available to individuals suffering work related accidents. There are also things such as “maintenance”, “vocational rehabilitation”, etc., which are not mentioned above as these are generally not part of a Workers’ Compensation claim, but suffice it to say that there ARE additional benefits as well as additional duties (“reporting the accident”, attending IMEs, etc.) you may have to perform pursuant to the Act or lose your benefits. So, you should retain an attorney to represent you as soon after the accident as possible, because this Act, which seems extremely “simple” on the surface, is in fact, extremely complicated. Attorneys who frequently deal in this area of law will be the first to tell you that many attorneys who do not regularly practice in this area of law can easily miss some benefit(s) due to you or not get you as much compensation as is due to you because of incorrectly calculating the amounts due you under the different benefit categories or even totally missing certain benefits.
REASON # 3: Another good reason to retain an attorney when injured in a work related accident is that the amount of compensation you may receive by representing yourself throughout this claim will almost certainly will be far below the amount you receive after paying our fee to represent you in this matter. We charge 20% of the amounts we recover for you, by settlement or Arbitration. This amount is NOT anywhere near the amounts paid by Clients who retain attorneys for personal injury (or similar type) claims. Considering all the pitfalls you may fall into if you choose NOT to retain us to represent you in your Workers’ Compensation matter, combined with the fact that the insurance company is NOT YOUR FRIEND and doesn’t have your interests at heart and will not generally inform you of the nature and extent of all benefits due and/or available to you under the Act. This insurance company is incentivized to give you as little of the benefits due you, thus justifying their costs and expenses to the insurance company and/or your employer. Retaining our Firm to represent you in this matter is money well spent.
David G. McDermott of McDermott & McDermott, Ltd. has been representing injured Clients for over thirty-eight (38) years. He not only has handled many Workers’ Compensation claims during that time period, but more to the point, before becoming an attorney, his wife had the misfortune to sustain a rather serious work-related accident and she (as well as he) deeply felt the angst of being injured and undergoing the very many problems involved in the Workers’ Compensation claims process. Because of this, Mr. McDermott takes this area very seriously and aggressively pursues all available benefits. While in his last year of law school, Mr. McDermott (after being granted his Supreme Court 711 license) worked for the Workers’ Compensation division of the Illinois Attorney General’s Office. Furthermore, after going into private practice and starting his own law firm, Mr. McDermott assisted Senator DeAngelis by participating in the Committee working to overhaul the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act. Finally, over the years, Mr. McDermott has given lectures on Workers’ Compensation in the Chicagoland area AND has also lectured at the Beijing school of law on this area of law!
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