Workers Compensation - Chicago Workers Comp Lawyer
Work injuries are some of the cases in need of the most immediate attention, because injured workers often do not have any money coming in.
Financial planners will tell us all until they are blue in the fact that we are all supposed to have savings of 1 or 6 months of our monthly expenses in case we have a family or medical emergency. But for most people, that is just not easy to do.
When someone is hurt on the job, their company may, or may not, pay TTD or Temporary Total Disability under Workers Comp. This is being paid for your time lost from work while you are injured so that you can continue to pay your rent or mortgage and other expenses while you recover from your work injury.
Increasingly, I have seen more and more injured workers come to me with an injury case, and they are telling me that their companies are NOT paying TTD. That can put you in a real bind–because now, you are injured and worried about your future, and you also have no money coming in while you heal from your injuries.
Serious on the job injuries are very common.
In my opinion, too many lawyers do nothing when their client tells them they have no money coming in.
Most people do not know this, but the Workers’ Compensation Act in Illinois is a law that covers all work injuries in Illinois. Rule 19 of the Workers Compensation Act allows for an expedited hearing, even if it is shortly after the accident, to get in front of the Arbitrator assigned to the work injury case, to let the arbitrator know the facts, and to let him or her know that you are not getting paid. An experienced Chicago Workers Comp Lawyer will tell you that it is not so easy to get in front of an Arbitrator due to the Judge’s conflicting trial and.or vacation schedules. But the sooner you try, the sooner you will get action for your client.
Sure, there are requirements before going before the Arbitrator–you have to have the medical in the file and be ready to try the 19(b) or 19(b(1) Petition if the company refuses to be reasonable. And sometimes, it can take several weeks to get in front of an Arbitrator for scheduling reasons.
But a knowledgeable and aggressive Chicago Workers’ Compensation lawyer knows how to do all of this, and DOES IT WHENEVER HE NEEDS TO FOR HIS CLIENTS.
Another common issue I see in Illinois Work Injury and Chicago Workers Compensation cases is companies or claims companies hiring Nurse Case Managers. These Nurse Case Managers are being paid by the company to–do what, help you? Wrong.
They will TELL you that they are trying to help you. But the company hired the nurse case manager to try to influence your doctor against you, to take down notes of any damaging thing you might say, and to push you to return to work, even if you might not be ready to go. Nurse Case Managers are being paid by companies in Chicago Work injury cases to LIMIT the recovery and save the company money. No other reason. Some of them are very nice and personable–or appear to be. Never forget that their only goal is to hurt your Workers Compensation case.
Here is something that most Workers Compensation lawyers will not tell you: Workers Compensation cases are driven by (1) how much money you earn per hour; and (2) what doctors say.
First, be aware that as a general rule, the more hourly money you make, the bigger compensation you get in a Workers Compensation case. In other words, a guy making $20 per hour is going to be compensated twice as much as a guy making $10 per hour for the exact same injury, and exact same treatment. It is the way the entire Illinois Workers Compensation Act is set up.
Second, no matter how bad you are hurt, if your doctor does not back you up, we are going to have a fight on our hands. That is why I always tell clients to make sure that they have a good relationship with their doctor. If your doctor is a jerk, treats you bad when he finds out you have an injury case, then choose a different treating doctor. I have literally seen people get less compensation than they deserve, and get sent back to work before they were really ready, all because their doctor torpedoed their case because they did not like lawyers or lawsuits.
I see this very often when an employee decides to treat with a company doctor. Treating with a company doctor occasionally is okay, but generally, it is risky and one of the worst things you can do.
Under the Workers’ Compensation Act, you can choose your own doctor to be your treating doctor. You can pick up to two doctors to treat you for your injuries (this actually gets a lot more complicated). However, the company can request that their doctor examine and evaluate you. If they request this, they have to make the arrangements, inform you, and pay for your transportation to and from the doctor’s office if it creates a problem for you. You must attend the exam and cooperate or you risk hurting your case.
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Answers To The 3 Questions All Injured Workers Have About Workers Comp (Answered By A Top Chicago Workers Comp Lawyer)!
WORKERS COMP 101: How to Get PAID While Off Work Under Workers Comp! (Everything You Need To Know!)
The first thing for you to know about getting paid under Workers Comp is that you’re supposed to get paid two thirds of your pay when you’re off work due to a work injury.
That’s what the Illinois Worker’s Compensation Act says is supposed to happen. But we all know sometimes it doesn’t.
Employers and their worker’s compensation insurance companies try to not pay injured workers when they’re out of work because they got hurt at work. So the first thing you need to know is that if you get hurt at work and if you’re off work, you’re supposed to get two thirds of your salary, but they don’t take out taxes. So even though you’re only getting paid two thirds of what you normally get paid, the fact that they’re not taking out payroll taxes means it’s pretty comparable. So you should be getting pretty close to what you would be getting normally if you were working.
The second thing you need to know about getting paid Workers Comp if you’re off of work due to a work injury is that you’re only going to get paid that money, called TTD, (Temporary Total Disability) if you have a doctor’s note.
No doctor’s note, no pay. That’s because according to Workers Comp, the company is entitled to a medical opinion explaining that you were hurt and that you’re off work because you got hurt on the job. You need a doctor’s note in order to prove that you’re off work because of the work injury and that you’re actually physically not able to do the job.
The third thing you need to understand is that there’s a difference between work/off work notes when it comes to Workers Compensation claims.
There are full duty work restrictions and partial duty work restrictions. A full duty work restriction means your doctor things that you can’t work at all. That you need to be completely off work. And that usually happens with serious injuries or neck or back injuries. Because if you’ve got those sorts of injuries, there’s not much you can do without pain.
The other kind of restriction is the partial duty restriction. That usually happens where somebody’s hand is hurt but they can still walk and see and do other things that don’t involve using that hand. But it also involves things like back injuries or leg injuries where you’re able to sit and do work. That’s a partial restriction.
If you have a full duty restriction, that means you can’t work at all. But if you have a partial restriction, that means you might be able to do something for the company. And if the company accommodates your restriction, then you have to go to work and try to do it. If you have a partial restriction and they ask you to come to work, they have to keep the work they ask you to do within your physical limitations contained in that restriction.
In other words, they’re not allowed to ask you to do work that your doctor is telling you that you shouldn’t do. If your employer doesn’t offer you work within your restriction, then you’re entitled to get paid while you’re off work. Or, if they make you come into work and ask you to do things outside of your restriction, you should go back to the doctor, report that, and the doctor is likely to keep you completely off work.
Your employer is not allowed to ask you to do things that are beyond your restriction in the note that the doctor gave you. Now just because they’re supposed to pay you while you’re off work doesn’t mean that they actually will. Lots of people get cheated out of their off work pay. But if that happens to you, you can go to the Worker’s Compensation Commission and force them to pay you the money that you’re owed.
What happens is you file what’s called a 19B Petition, and you get in front of the arbitrator or judge at the Illinois Worker’s Compensation Commission.They hear evidence and decide whether the company owes you the money or not. They’ll also rule that the company has to continue paying you until your doctor gives you a full duty work release to return to work.
Unfortunately, filing a 19B Petition and getting in front of a judge or arbitrator to rule on your lost wages usually takes 30 to 60 days. So it can be a bit of a wait.
Now you know the basics of how to get paid if you’re off work due to a work injury. I really hope this information helps you. If you have any questions about your situation, please feel free to give me a call for a no cost Case Strategy Session, where I will analyze your situation and answer all of your questions. Give me a call at 1-888-HURT-318 (1-888-487-8318).
WORKERS COMP 101: How To CHOOSE YOUR DOCTOR and Make The COMPANY Pay the Bill!
The first thing you need to know is that if you got hurt at work, under Illinois Workers Comp, you’re supposed to be able to see a doctor of your choice, and your employer is supposed to pay the doctor.
But there’s a specific reason why they don’t want you to choose your own doctor, and we’ll talk more about that in a little bit.
Under Illinois Workers Comp law, you’re supposed to choose your doctor, and the employer or their insurance company is supposed to pay the doctor that you choose. The amount that they’re supposed to pay the doctor is called the “fee schedule” amount. Illinois workers comp law sets up a fee schedule for what doctors get paid for various services, and those amounts are pretty generous. Generally they’re more than health insurance companies pay for the same or similar services, so doctors actually like workers comp cases.
If you got hurt at work, it should be pretty easy for you to find a doctor who’s willing to treat you, because they know it’s very likely they’re going to get paid under that fee schedule amount under the Illinois workers comp law. It’s a pretty good payment, and doctors are happy to accept it as full payment for the services they give you.
The next thing you need to know, which not too many Chicago Workers Comp lawyers explain, is about “The Two Doctor Rule”.
The Two Doctor Rule says that an injured employee is entitled to a choice of two doctors when they’ve been hurt at work. I’ll be you figured out that pretty quickly when I called it the two doctor rule. But here’s a wrinkle. It doesn’t mean two doctors. It means two chain of referrals of doctors.
Let’s say you choose a doctor and you go to that doctor. Then that doctor sends you for an MRI. Then he sends you for therapy. Then that doctor refers you to a specialist, and that specialist sends you to another specialist, and another specialist. You’ve now seen four or five different medical providers, but because they’re all in the same chain of referral, it only counts as one doctor under the two doctor rule. You’d still have one more doctor or chain of doctor referrals to go to.
This is pretty important to understand, because if you go to a doctor outside of the two doctor rule, the judge or arbitrator assigned to your case might decide that your employer or the workers comp insurance company doesn’t have to pay any doctors who you saw outside of The Two Doctor Rule.
But here’s where the difference between an examining doctor and a treating doctor comes in, and it’s a big difference. Even though the company can designate a doctor that can examine you as much as they want, you get to decide who the treating doctor is. Your treating doctor gives you a diagnosis, decides what the treatment plan is, what medical care you need, and whether you should have an off work note or not.
Your ability to choose the treating doctor is very powerful in a Workers Comp case.
That’s why your employer and their workers comp insurance company want you to choose their doctor as your treating doctor. That means a doctor who is beholden to your employer and loyal to your employer gets to decide whether you work or have an off work note, and whether you get the medical care you really need. You probably don’t want a doctor who’s loyal to your employer and not you calling the shots on your medical care. That’s why I always tell injured people, “You should choose your own treating doctor and not treat with the company doctor”. Even though the company doctor does get to examine you.
If you choose your own treating doctor and you’re within the Two Doctor Rule, then the law says that your employer and their Workers Comp insurance is supposed to pay for all of your necessary medical care.
If they don’t do it voluntarily, they can be forced to do so by the arbitrator or a judge assigned to your Workers Comp case.
You might have to go to court or over to the Commission and file a 19B Petition in order to get the judge or arbitrator to force them to pay. That’s why you have to make sure to follow the two doctor rule, and choose a treating doctor who’s on your side. If you do that, you’re very likely to be able to force them to do what the law says they’re supposed to.
I really hope this information helps you in your situation. But if you have a question or something you want to talk about privately, go ahead and call my office, or just message me, and I’ll see if I can help you and point you in the right direction. My toll-free number is 1-888-HURT-318 (1-888-487-8318).
WORKERS COMP 101: How To STOP Harassment and Keep Your Job!
Under Workers Comp law, you are supposed to be able to be hurt at work and file a workers’ comp claim without being harassed or without your job being threatened.
That’s the law, but we all know things don’t always work according to the law, if people think they can get away with doing more, or less as the case may be. Sometimes, employers do try to harass or fire injured people after an on-the-job injury.
So what can they get away with and what isn’t allowed?
Let’s talk about harassment first.
The first thing to consider is what sort of harassment are we talking about? Are they just not being nice to you, or giving you the silent treatment or the cold shoulder? If that’s the case, that’s actually pretty normal. Things usually return to the way they used to be within a couple of weeks of you returning to work after an on-the-job injury. It’s common especially at a smaller company for the employer or the supervisors to be a little bit mad at you for filing a workers’ comp case. Usually, things settle down.
But if by harassment, you mean being physically or verbally assaulted or abused, that’s another matter altogether. That sort of harassment may actually violate the law. If you’re a union employee, or there’s a contract in place, or they discriminate you by sending you home, not giving you hours to work, or not offering you access to overtime hours, those actions are harassment where you may be able to sue the company to stop them from doing it.
Most companies know that it’s against the law to harass or discriminate based on someone filing a Workers Comp case, so they don’t do it.
As a result, it’s pretty rare. If your company’s cutting your hours, or not offering you overtime, or laying you off, and you can prove it, you should talk to somebody about filing a lawsuit, because that behavior is definitely harassment that violates the law.
So let’s talk about being fired in retaliation for filing a Workers’ Comp case or being hurt at work.
Firing an employee who got hurt at work and filed a Workers’ Comp case is definitely in violation of federal law. Simply put, it’s against the law to fire an employee just because they got hurt at work and decided to protect their rights in a way that the Illinois Workers’ Comp Act allows them to do. You can’t do that.
It is perfectly legal for you to file a Workers’ Comp claim, and you can’t be penalized for doing it.
But even though the principle of retaliatory discharge is open and shut and easy to understand, there are plenty of wrinkles in retaliatory discharge cases, that say “this is” or “this is not” retaliatory discharge. It’s actually a pretty complicated area of the law.
For example, your case at the commission, at the Workers’ Compensation Commission, actually has to be filed before they fire you, otherwise you can’t have a retaliatory discharge claim. And even if they create some false pretext for firing you, that’s not going to immunize them from a big judgment against the employer. Courts and judges see right through that. If they’re really firing you for filing a Workers’ Comp claim, but make something up and we can prove it, you might be in line for a large judgment against them for retaliatory discharge. An employer is not allowed to make up an excuse like that.
Since employers know they are on the line for a big judgment if they do that, these days they often don’t do that. They’re very careful about documenting why somebody’s being let go, and these days, they rarely fire somebody for filing a workers’ comp case, but if they do and if you can prove it, if there’s evidence of it, we can really hold your employer accountable.
No matter what, an employer is not supposed to fire an injured employee just because they got hurt on the job.
If there’s anything I can do or if you have a question, message me or call my office. I’m happy to talk to you for free and see if there’s anything I can do to help you. You can reach me at 1-888-HURT-318 (1-888-487-8318).