Many injured workers who contact our office about their worker’s compensation case are trying to make a decision about whether they even want to hire a lawyer. Many times, people with worker’s compensation cases do not want to hire a lawyer, and this is always their right. However, there are some types of situations which should strongly indicate to an injured worker that they need experienced legal representation for their Illinois worker’s compensation case.
You probably should consider hiring an experienced Chicago worker’s compensation lawyer when any of the following situations are happening in your Illinois worker’s compensation case:
- The insurance company is denying that you had a compensable injury. Many times, worker’s compensation insurers will tell an injured worker that the injury is not work-related (such as with carpal tunnel cases or low back injuries) or is not compensable (especially in cases where the injury is off the clock but on work premises, such as with cases where someone falls in the company parking lot).
- You do not believe that your temporary total disability (TTD) checks are in the right amount. One of the key figures in an Illinois worker’s compensation case is the average weekly wage (AWW). Your AWW is not only the basis for the payments you receive while off work, it is also the basis for your settlement for permanency. Getting shorted on your AWW can cost you thousands of dollars over the life of your case.
- Your TTD checks are not being paid in a timnely manner. Insurers that fail to pay worker’s compensation benefits in full and on time can be assessed penalties. Many times, a lawyer will get back TTD checks paid and will make sure that they continue to be paid when due.
- Your medical bills are not getting paid on time. Your doctor deserves to be paid in a timely manner, and the failure of the company to pay your doctor can jeopardize your medical care and your credit rating. Just as with TTD checks, failing to pay medical bills on time can expose the insurance company to penalties.
- You are assigned a nurse case manager. The function of the nurse case manager is to limit the insurance company’s liability for worker’s compensation benefits. Many times, they will violate your right to confidentiality with your doctor by discussing your care directly with the doctor without you being present. Lawyers can restrict the nurse case managers ability to interfere with the medical care you are receiving and need to return to work.
- You are sent for an “indepedent medical exam” or IME after your doctor has recommended surgery. There is nothing independent about an IME. The doctor you are being sent to was selected by the insurance company and is paying his bill, and the reason that you are being sent for the exam is to find a reason to deny the care that your doctor is recommending. Sometimes, IME’s work out for the injured worker, but most often, they result in a denial of care and ongoing benefits like TTD. When you get sent for an IME (and they are not optional), it is time to start looking to hire a lawyer.
- You discover that the insurance company is performing surveillance on you. Sometimes, insurance companies will hire investigators to watch you and to videotape your activities. When you find that you are the subject of surveillance by the insurance company, it is a sure sign that they are looking to cut off your benefits, and it is time to protect your interests.
- You will not be able to return to your former line of work. When you are not able to return to your former line of worker after getting all of the medical care which has been recommended to you, you are eligible for vocational retraining and payment of a wage differnetial if you are making less than at your former job. The quality of your retraining makes a big difference in the kind of job that you can get after you have finished retraining, but due to the costs involved, most insurance companies do want to make sure that you get high quality retraining. Also, computing the differential can be a complex area of the law, so you should get advice from an experienced Chicago worker’s compensation lawyer for that. Not properly figuring the differential can cost you thousands of dollars.
Not every case needs a lawyer, and any time that you do not feel confident about protecting your rights in an Illinois worker’s compensation case, you should hire an experienced Chicago worker’s compensation lawyer. However, in any of the situations outlined above, we strongly recommend that injured workers hire an experienced Chicago worker’s compensation lawyer to protect their rights.