5 Myths, Misconceptions, and Questions in Illinois Workers’ Compensation Claims

1. That the employer can (or cant) fire you because you filed a work comp claim. This is a tricky one. The employer cannot legally fire you because you filed a workers' compensation claim...but that doesn't mean he/she won't. If you have a lawyer then the employer will almost certainly get one too. That lawyer will likely tell the employer that firing you will result in a Retaliatory Discharge lawsuit. So, if you hire a lawyer to represent you there is less chance you will be fired, but if you are fired then we are ready to file a second lawsuit on your behalf. There are other reasons an employer might legally fire you when you're on workers' comp. Call us and we'll explain.

2. That I should be paid for the pain and suffering I went through. While you deserve to get paid for pain and suffering, you won't in a workers' comp claim. The work comp system compensates you for loss of function of a body part, medical bills and lost wages, but not for pain and suffering. That said, a good work comp lawyer can help make pain and suffering an element in the award at trial. Here's how: Pain and suffering that is ongoing affects your ability to perform the essential functions of your job. Therefore, at trial, you can explain to the arbitrator what you’re experiencing and how your current pain limits you. So long as you are truthful and credible, the arbitrator will likely take into consideration the permanent pain you have.

3. I can refuse a drug and alcohol test when I suffer an injury. True....but, the law now states that refusal to take the test results in an automatic presumption that you were intoxicated or otherwise chemically impaired. Also, if it's in your employment the burden then falls on you and your lawyer to prove that you were not intoxicated and/or that the chemicals in your system did not impact your ability to do your job. It's a tough case to make, so you better hire a great lawyer right away!

4. If I treat with the company doctor then the company will like me more and might accept my claim. Nice idea in a perfect world, but that's not our reality. First you must understand that the company doctor usually doesn't work for the employer....he's chosen by the insurance company. It's the insurance company's money and it's their choice and the doctor knows what his job is. His job is either to help deny your claim or to minimize your treatment. I've been at this over 20 years. I worked for insurance companies in my misguided youth. Trust this: The "company doctor" does not have your best interests in mind.

5. If I hire a lawyer he will take 1/3 (33%) and I will get less than if I negotiate myself: First, the fees in workers' compensation are fixed at 20%, not 33 1/3%. Second, the adjuster will offer you the least amount she can to settle your case. In a recent case we had a client tell us he had been offered $8000.00 to settle his case. It took us two months get the deal worked out, but the client ended up with a settlement of $28,500.00 when we were finished. We had another case, last year, where the client walked away with over $100,000.00 in his pocket in a case where he was offered $32,000.00 before he hired us. Would you wait an additional 10 months to get another $78,000? Not all cases turn out this well, but consider this...if we can’t get you significantly more than the offer on the table then we simply won’t take the case. It wouldn't be worth our time or yours to fight 6 months to a year just to get you a few more thousand dollars. If you have a case, have questions about a case or want advice then make an appointment. We can help. LAW OFFICE OF KEITH SHORT, P.C. 618-655-9499

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