There are multiple variables that go into the equation in determining how much your workers’ compensation case is worth under the Illinois Workers Compensation Act. These questions should help you get in the right mindset when evaluating your case:
- How much time were you off work?
- What kind of treatment(s) did you receive?
- Are you able to return to work?
- If you must find a new job, how much does it pay in comparison to your old one?
- Do you have permanent restrictions? If so, what are they?
- Do you have disfigurement?
- Did your injury cause permanent total disability?
As every case is different, it is difficult to assess how much each individual case is worth. It gets even more difficult as the case becomes more complex. To give you an idea, let’s start with an example:
- You return to your previous employment
- You are earning the same amount as you did before the accident
- Your case will settle based on one or more of the injuries
Section 8(e) of the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act is called the, “Schedule of Injuries.” The Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission assigns each body part a number of weeks that are worth an amount dependent on the date of your accident. According to the amended Illinois Workers Compensation Act, Section 8.1b(b), “In determining the level of permanent partial disability, the Commission shall base its determination on the following factors:
- The reported level of impairment pursuant to subsection (a);
- The occupation of the injured employee;
- The age of the employee at the time of the injury;
- The employee’s future earning capacity, and;
- Evidence of disability corroborated by the treating medical records.
No single enumerated factor shall be the sole determinant of disability. In determining the level of disability, the relevance and weight of any factors used in addition to the level of impairment as reported by the physician must be explained in a written order.”
Let’s look the previous example to calculate the value of a workers’ compensation claim according to the old way. You fell at work and broke your leg on July 21, 2005. You needed a cast, physical therapy, and now you’re back to work. Workers’ Compensation insurance offers to settle the case for 5% of a leg. The entire leg is worth 215 weeks of benefits, and your average weekly wage is $1000. The PPD rate is capped at the maximum for your accident date at $591.77 – so what is your settlement offer worth?
5% x 215 x $591.77 = $6,361.53
This seems like quite a low settlement offer; however, remember this is how you calculate the value of a claim based on the Schedule of Injuries. This stems from subsection (i) talked about above, known as the reported level of impairment. The American Medical Association’s “Guides to the Evaluation of Permanent Impairment” and some other factors; employers would choose the AMA Guidelines to be the only factor considered if they had their way. These guidelines considerably reduce value of a workers’ compensation claim. It is from this reason, we encourage you to find a skilled Chicago workers’ compensation attorney to handle your claim and get you the benefits you deserve. Each work injury is different and there is no clear cut way to ensure you get the full benefits you deserve. An attorney who is well versed in Illinois workers compensation law will have a much higher success rate in getting their clients the benefits they deserve.
Now back to our example, if the injury resulted in you going to work for a lower wage than before the injury, then its more than likely that your case would be settled on the projected value of your wage differential. If the injury occurred before 9/1/2011 the wage differential will be based on life expectancy; however, if the injury occurred after this date then it will most likely have less value.
An experienced Illinois workers’ compensation attorney is ultimately your best option to getting you the benefits that you deserve. Many people are adamant that they do not need an attorney, or that they can handle the claim themselves. In truth, we hope that people can handle their claims with just a little bit of knowledge and a lot of caution, but we always say if you need brain surgery where are you going to go? More than likely you will go to a brain surgeon. How about if you need a software system for your business? You’ll consult with a company who specializes in computer programming. Our Illinois workers’ compensation lawyers are immersed in workers comp matters every day and have a sound understanding of not only the law, but the system as well. We encourage you to reach out and consult with our team at Horwitz, Horwitz & Associates if you have a work injury. Let our family, help yours!