After a work injury, it’s natural to wonder how much your workers’ compensation claim is worth prior to settling with the insurance company. In Illinois, there is a workers’ compensation settlement guide that is known as the Q-Dex. This book lists many different cases along with the settlement or trial results for each. In no way, however, does it cover all workers’ compensation cases in the state. So, while it is a valuable resource for workers’ compensation attorneys, it is not very practical for the general public.
To know how much your workers’ compensation settlement is worth, it is worthwhile to speak to an Illinois workers’ comp lawyer, rather than file a claim on your own. Meanwhile, there are some guidelines you can use to determine how much your claim is worth.
Request a free consultation with an experienced workers’ compensation attorney from Jerome, Salmi & Kopis, LLC. Headquartered in Fairview Heights, IL, we serve all of southern Illinois and eastern Missouri.
Factors that Determine a Workers’ Compensation Settlement
A number of factors will determine how much any workers’ compensation settlement is worth. These include:
- Your medical records: Workers’ compensation is largely intended to help you recover your medical expenses. As such, the amount of your medical bills and invoices will largely determine your settlement amount.
- Future treatment required: You may need additional treatment in the future and you deserve reimbursement for it.
- Your work history: How much time you have spent working in the past and the type of work you have performed will all affect your settlement.
- Restrictions on your employment: If your injury has restricted the type of work you can perform, your settlement may reflect this.
- Specific issues in the case: Insurance companies do not want to pay out on workers’ compensation claims. If there are certain issues with your case, such as if the insurer argues the injury does not reflect the type of work you do, it may affect a potential settlement.
- The arbitrator or judge in the case: The reality is that the amount received through a workers’ comp claim can depend on the judge or arbitrator who oversees the case.
The above are just a few factors that determine how much a workers’ compensation settlement is potentially worth. An Illinois workers’ compensation lawyer can advise on whether you are entitled to temporary or permanent disability benefits, penalties the insurer owes you for failing to pay benefits on time, and more.
When to Settle Your Claim
Your biggest concern with your workers’ compensation claim may be how much it is worth. However, when you settle the claim is also a big consideration. While some states require that you fully recover from your injury before settling your workers’ compensation claim, Illinois does not have such a requirement. You can settle your claim at any point that you are offered a fair settlement offer from the insurance company. However, you do not want to settle your claim too quickly.
If you settle your claim within seven days of sustaining the work injury, the court or arbitrator will likely presume that it is fraudulent and will not enforce the settlement. In most cases, it is beneficial to wait until you reach maximum medical improvement (MMI) before settling your claim. Reaching MMI means that you may not get any better, but you likely will not get any worse, either. Settling before you reach MMI is risky because if your condition does become worse and you need additional treatment, the settlement you previously agreed to will not include the cost of that treatment.
What Rights are Relinquished After Settling a Claim?
In Illinois, you cannot sue your employer for a work injury. Unlike other states, you cannot even sue your employer if they displayed gross negligence. The only two times you can file a claim against your employer directly are when they intended to harm you, or they do not carry workers’ compensation insurance and you became hurt on the job. After you have settled your claim, you will release any claim against your employer based on your work injury. These claims may involve the right to future medical treatment, vocational rehabilitation services, wage loss benefits, and more.
Generally speaking, once you have settled your claim, you cannot return to the insurer in the future, even if you need additional treatment. This is why it is so important to reach MMI before filing your claim. However, insurers sometimes offer limited settlements that allow you to settle your permanent disability and wage loss claims, which may allow you to continue receiving medical benefit for future treatments. In most cases, however, insurers prefer to close a claim entirely so their obligations come to an end.
Enforcing a Workers’ Compensation Settlement
After your workers’ compensation lawyer has entered into negotiations with the insurance company and arrived at a fair settlement, the settlement goes to the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission. If the Commission does not approve the settlement offer, it is not enforceable. To obtain approval from the Commission, you must complete a Settlement Contract form and mail it to the arbitrator that is overseeing your case.
The approval process is often much quicker if you have been working with a lawyer to arrive at a settlement with the insurance company. If you do not work with a lawyer, you must attend a settlement approval hearing, during which the arbitrator will ask questions and review the documents to ensure the settlement is fair. If you do work with a lawyer when arriving at a settlement, a settlement approval hearing is not necessary. Instead, the arbitrator will simply review the documents before arriving at a decision.
Our Illinois Workers’ Compensation Lawyers Can Help with Your Settlement
If you have been injured on the job and need to file a workers’ compensation claim, do not go through the process alone. At the Law Office of Jerome, Salmi & Kopis, LLC, our Illinois workers’ compensation lawyers will negotiate with the insurance company on your behalf and help you obtain the fair settlement you need. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation and learn more about how we can help.