What Makes A Workers Comp Case Worth A Big Settlement?

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July 17  

How Much Is Your Case?

In this article, we’re going to talk about “What makes a Workers Comp case valuable?” and “How to figure out what a Workers Comp case might be worth?” So, I had a gentleman who called me who makes a pretty good sum of money and has a pretty serious injury as well. And I prepared all the stuff that he needs for him, it occurred to me that this is a good information for anyone who got hurt at work.

Workers Comp Laws Differ For Every State

The first thing that you should know is that each state has its own Workers Comp Laws. The primary office and my main office is located in Chicago, Illinois. Obviously, I’m very familiar with Illinois Workers Comp Laws. But your state law definitely varies and in places like Texas, they change the Workers Comp Law so severely, that some lawyers don’t even handle Workers Comp cases in Texas, which is bad news in Texas. I actually get a lot of phone calls from people in Texas who are getting sort of worked over by the system and in need of help, but not only am I not licensed down there. Actually, the system is really cut down on or eliminated a worker’s right to be represented by an attorney in a Worker’s right to be represented by an attorney in a work injury case.

But there are two or three things that really drive value in a Worker’s Comp case.

Your Average Weekly Rate Affects Your Case

I’ll tell you the first thing, your average weekly rate, in other words, how much do you make a week in pay. So how do we calculate that well if you’re full time and you work 40 hours a week and you make 20 bucks and 40 hours per week times 20 bucks an hour is 800. If you make 10 per hour for 40 hours, it is 400. If you work overtime and its company ordered over time, meaning you can't reject it and you must work it. Then that gets added to your average weekly wage. So why is average weekly wage so important in Workers Comp, well, I'll tell you basically the way it works is every injury that you receive is reduced to several weeks of work. In Illinois, Workers Comp, if your injury corresponds to 10 weeks of your average weekly wage that's what your case resolves for in front of a judge. Settlement wise, 10 weeks times 400 is 4,000 and that's your settlement.

Let's say you make a lot of money, the math is easy, you're making 20 bucks an hour, but your injuries correspond to 100 weeks of work, so 20 times 40 is 800 times 100, it's 80,000. That's the calculation, for what's called “PPD”, which means Permanent Partial Disability. But you're also entitled in a Workers Comp case to get paid, while you're off work, two-thirds (2/3) of your salary and you're also entitled to have all your medical care that's related covered so we're just referring to the lump sum of money the PPD, how much money you would get at the end of that. Obviously, you can see how earning more money per hour or more money on average at work really increases the value of the case.

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The Seriousness Of Your Injury

Now, what is the second factor? The second factor is how serious the injury is. If you bump your leg and you have a bruise on your leg, that is less serious than if you break your leg and if you break your leg without surgery, that's less serious than breaking your leg where you must have surgery to fix the repair. And even more serious than that is two or three surgeries on your leg.

The seriousness of the injury and the amount of treatment you get for an injury drives the number of weeks that injury is going to be held to be representative. They take your average weekly wage times the number of weeks so a bump and bruise on the leg might be worth like five weeks. But a major surgery on your leg might be worth 50 or 100 weeks, so the nature of the injury and the amount of treatment is a major driver.

Outcome Of The Injury

The third one is permanency. And it sort of goes along with number two, but it's so important that it bears discussing on its own. The first thing you need to know is that in Workers Comp theory, if there are no permanent consequences to an injury, technically you're not entitled to PPD.  

But as a practical matter, every injury is awarded some degree of PPD. Because any injury you sustain in your body does change you and then it’s just the degree. The more permanency, the more valuable the case. And we will use the same analogy, so you bump and bruise your leg and after six or eight weeks of therapy, it’s going to be held might be 5-8 weeks of pay for that injury because you healed. But, if you have multiple surgeries and even after the surgeries, you have a permanent limp and your leg is not right, and all of that documented by all the doctors you saw. Well, that permanency, the degree to which you have a permanent negative consequence from an injury really drives the value of the case.

So, those are the three big things that drive value in a Workers Comp case, how much you make per hour and per week, what is the nature of the injury and the medical care you get, and what is your outcome or how permanent your outcome is. I hope that answers your question and if you or a loved one needs a lawyer, please give me a call, you can reach me 24/7 at 312-500-4500.

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